“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
You can tell a lot about a person by how they eat a mint.
That’s what one of my professors taught me in graduate school. He would sit a bowl of peppermints and hard candies out on the table in each class and watch.
People who approach life with more ease and patience tend to take mints and savor them for a while. They allow the mint to dissolve in its own time.
People that are considered more “high functioning” don’t go for that. It may start off that way, but they don’t have time for mulling around with their mints. They go in for the kill and bite down. Game over mint.
“Life is meant to be savored, Julia,” he would tell his mint munching pupil.
I thought about him yesterday after dinner as I crunched down triumphantly on a peppermint. After all these years, patience is still a challenge for me. I like sprints, not marathons. I like quick lessons and shallow valleys. Let me chomp down and crack open God’s truth and move on.
But that is not what life gives us most of the time.
So when it comes to delays, I am sometimes disappointed in myself when I lose heart. When I feel discouraged. When I slide down the mountainside exhausted from climbing.
I’ve always desired more patience, but when God brought me into this season and set me on a path with no finish line in sight and told me to “go,” I was secretly hoping the distance was an illusion. I was hoping I would turn the first corner and find victory. I never desired a patience that would bring me to a place where my legs would give underneath me; where I would feel broken. But, it was in this type of race that God wanted me. Because it’s in these types of races where I experience a truth that says, “they that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31).
If I had all the strength I need, why would I need to be renewed??
If I could rely on myself, where would I rely on God?
Renewal means, I WILL be depleted, but He is faithful to restore if I allow Him to.
So when I think of it this way, patience is not willpower or emotional indifference. Patience is a waiting that relies on God. Patience makes God the finish line.
Just recently I got an invitation to the Wings for Life World Run. It’s a unique race format where the finish line chases you. You keep running and as long as you are ahead of the finish line (catcher car) you’re in the race. Interesting, huh? If there is no end, what keeps the runners going? Why do they even start? Well, the race benefits spinal cord injury research, so racers are motivated to run for those who can’t run for themselves. That goal is the cause.
So when Paul said in Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark of the high calling that is in Christ Jesus,” he was urging us to set Christ as our cause.
Endurance makes my goal God himself.
So where does that leave me now?
Still in the race….
But when my legs fail me, I remind myself to keep my eyes on the prize.
“He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the One who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
When I grow anxious in the wait, I allow, “patience to have her perfect work” (James 1:4).
When I struggle with my endurance and want to insert my own finish lines, I instead surrender to the One who is the “author and finisher of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
That’s what patience means to me.
What about you? What's your cause? Who are you relying on?
Maybe one day I’ll savor mints.
But what I am determined to do is learn the type of patience that God desires for me.
A patience that relies on Him
A patience that endures.
Let’s pray: Lord God, help me to be still enough to see the works that You are trying to perform in my life. Give me an enduring spirit of strength, peace, and confidence in the “meantime” as I wait on You. My desire is that my waiting ministers to others as powerfully as my victories because they are both for my good and completing a perfect work in me. As I lean on You and not my own understanding or abilities, thank You that by Your supernatural power I will walk and not be weary, I will run and not faint. I will complete Your race and when it is all said and done, YOU will receive all the glory. In Jesus name. Amen.