Sunday, June 01, 2008

Waiting - Part 3

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. - Galatians 5:22-23

"Lord, I pray for patience. And please give it to me NOW!" - Christian prayer


I believe that as Christians, our spirits have been born again (1 Peter 1:23) - made into brand new creations (2 Cor 5:17). We've become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We've been joined together with God (1 Cor 6:17). Christ is in us (Col 1:27) and we are in Him (1 John 4:13). We are complete in Him (Col 2:10). He has perfected us forever (Heb 10:14). This is good news! It's the reality of who we are in Him, and it's all due to His loving kindness and grace. Again, I believe this is the truth about our spirits. "God... made us alive together with Christ... and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:5-6).

I believe it's a different story with our souls. What I mean is, although our spirits have been made new creations and are complete and perfected, and have become partakers of the divine nature, there is still a daily sanctifying work of grace going on in our souls (our mind, our will, our emotions, etc). I can tell you for certain that my will does not always line up with that of the Spirit. My emotions do not always reflect the truth of who I have become spiritually in Christ. My thoughts vary from moment to moment. Put simply, one moment I can be thinking pure, holy thoughts and the next moment I can be lost in impure, ungodly thoughts. Happy one moment, sad the next. Trustful one moment, doubting the next. And so on.

But yet in this soul-life, through the daily, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, I'm growing. And to get specifically to the topic of this post, this growing process isn't instantaneous! A lot of waiting is involved. Since we are joined with God spiritually and have become a partaker of His divine nature, our natural desire when we realize that in our souls (minds, wills, emotions) we're not patient with our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our coworkers, ourselves (or on a bigger scale the overall development of our own personal life stories), is to become more patient. And since we're impatient in learning patience, we wish God would simply snap His fingers and make us patient!

Of course it doesn't work that way. Patience, along with all the other fruit that comes out of an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit, takes time. It's not instantaneous. There's a process going on, and I think that most of the time we don't even understand all that God is doing in and through us to bear His fruit. I do believe there are times when we're given revelations and insight about what He's doing, and those are wonderful times, but we generally don't see the bigger picture. However, in all of this we've been given a gift that I believe can and should help to melt away all the doubt and uncertainty when we don't see. That gift is faith.

I wholeheartedly believe that faith truly is a gift, and not something that we can earn or muster up by ourselves, and yet there is yet a growing process involved in learning to walk in faith. To walk in faith is to know that there is a bigger picture, even though we can't see it. It's to know that God is at work in us, to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phil 2:13), even when we don't sense what He is doing. There is a growing process involved in which you "let your roots grow down into him (Jesus) and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught" (Col 2:7 NLT).

Growth by its very nature is not quick or instantaneous, so it naturally involves patience ("long-suffering"). Patience involves waiting. Waiting expectantly requires faith. Faith requires believing what you don't see, but again it's a gift and it simply means that you are believing and trusting in the One through Whom all things were created - the One who is before all things and in Whom all things consist! (see Col 1:16-18). It's a well-placed trust, no?

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