God is patient to us impatient people
After WW1, the French General Louis Laurey asked his gardener to plant an oak tree in a particular part of his estate. The gardener said to the General that the tree you had chosen was a slow-growing tree and would not reach maturity for nearly a century. The general replied “In that case there is no time to lose. Plant it this afternoon.”
In a Christmas interview in 1986 Richard Nixon, spoke of peace efforts underway throughout the world during the Reagan administration. He was asked, “Is the USA better off this Christmas than it was at this time last year?” The former President answered: “As an American, we have many great strengths, but one of our weaknesses is impatience. The Russians think in terms of decades, the Chinese in terms of centuries, the Americans think in terms of years, months, and even days. But in the quest for a realistic, lasting peace, we expect overnight success – instant gratification – we are bound to be disappointed.”
Who likes instant coffee and tea? When I was a boy, we harvested coffee, dried the seeds, skinned them, roasted them, grind them…then drink. Not instant, but it has a beautiful aroma.
How do we live today? We live in a day of tense impatience. We want instant coffee, tea, service and above all instant money, instant success, and instant millionaires, – so we gamble a lot. When we are in a restaurant sometimes we are impatient with the waiters. Above all we are impatient with our God.
We try to put God in our timetable and rush Him into doing His will on our schedule. If ever there was a time when God’s people need to exercise patience, it is today. There is more to the cross of Christ. The other half of the cross is the crucifixion of self in the life of the Christian. Some people like to grow instantly in their Christian life, but they don’t like to carry the cross.
There is no room for painless commitment. Salvation is free, but not cheap. 1 Cor. 13:4 says “love is patient” “Love suffers long”. What a description of love! 1 John 4: 8 “God is love.” Psalm 103: 8 “the Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” 2 Pet. 3:9 “the Lord is not really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” God is described in the Bible as “slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.” He does not get impatient with His children.
He was very patient with Adam and Eve, although firm in His dealings with them. After they had sinned God sought them and asked “Where art thou?” He was patient with Cain, giving him a mark of protection against a hostile world. He was patient with Noah and his generation, postponing the flood until all hope of repentance was past. Noah preached on the same text (the same sermon) for 120 years without results, but his family. That was the first floating church. So God washed this planet earth and started all over again. God is a patient God.
You see, the OT is a thrilling story of God’s patience with the children of Israel. Again and again these recipients of God’s love and mercy murmured against him, disobeyed His commandments, worshiped other gods, and ignored His covenants with them.
God declared they had “played the harlot”, but He did not cast them off. Yes, God disciplined them when it was necessary, but He continues to love them. God’s correction was never prompted by vengeance. He went on loving them and proceeded with His plan to send His Son to provide for them – redemption from their sins and reconciliation with His loving fellowship.
God, the Father has never changed. God still has that patient love. He provides us His grace, which we don’t deserve, for we often grieve the Holy Spirit and ignore our vows to Him. We all fall short of the glory of God. Yet we expect the benefits of His promises without carrying out our part of the covenant.
But He goes on loving us, wooing us, courting us like a man courting his beloved girl, He goes on forgiving us. That is grace amazing! The love of God suffers long. He’s patient! All by grace and by grace alone.