Patience

For the past few years, I’ve chosen a key word to help me clarify areas of progress:

  • I’ve chosen one word to be the focus of prayer for each of my children.
  • One year I gave my husband a word for the year. My amazing, fun loving husband tends to say whatever he is thinking so several years ago I told him I was choosing “filter” as his word for 2017.
  • I also choose a word regarding an area of life I’d like to work on personally.

Last year I didn’t do very well with my word – “thoughtful.” I want to be the kind of person who sends heartfelt letters, special gifts, or gestures of love to others. I don’t come by this naturally. I did send my college kids a few letters and packages as well as write some thank you notes. (A few of them I even actually mailed.) Other than that – not very much thoughtfulness.

As 2018 came to a close I began to think about a word for 2019. I usually want something measurable that I can check off a list. But as I listened to the sermon one Sunday at our new church, I was struck by the pastor’s point that most people don’t put accomplished goals in obituaries or on tombstones. The tone of how we are remembered is often more character related. People talk about kindness, generosity, love, and those sorts of things. These are states of “being” rather than “doing.”

In this same message, I also heard this great statement:

Your desires for tomorrow should drive your decisions for today.

The pastor challenged us to think about what kind of person we want to be remembered as after we are gone. Then we must back up to today and make choices that line up with that character.  These types of things are more difficult to measure and make action points to track.

As I reflected on what could be said of me and… what could not be said about my character – the same word kept coming up in my thoughts, life, and pretty much everywhere I turned. It was:

PATIENCE

  • I don’t like waiting in line.
  • I have trouble waiting for others to make decisions.
  • I often find myself in a hurry.

But if I make “patience”  my word for 2019 – how can I chart my progress? How will I know if I am growing in patience?

As I thought and prayed about these problems, I realized that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Only God can produce it in my life. Patient is the first word to describe love in 1 Corinthians 13, and God is love. If I’m going to be transformed in patience, it will be the work of God in transforming my life.

As I’ve been writing a new Bible on Romans this past year, I remembered Romans 12:1-2:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

An idea began to take shape in my mind. What if I memorized two Bible verses each month related to patience and recited them to my accountability partner weekly? That would be a way to present my body (and mind) to the Lord and allow Him to transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.

So I’ve written out my verses on paper and inserted them into my planner for the entire year! I am praying that as 2019 closes, the Lord will use His Word to sink deep. I have a feeling I might find many opportunities for patience as I ask God to teach me! That can be scary, but I want godly character more than personal comfort.

I don’t know if you are into a “word” for a year or not. There is nothing magical about it, however it does provide an opportunity to reflect, pray, and plan. If we aim for nothing, we will hit it every time. This year, I’m aiming for patience.

I got my first opportunity on New Year’s Day on a walk with my family. I wanted to exercise and they wanted to take in the nature surrounding us. (How dare they?) Even thought day one of patience didn’t work out so well, I’m anticipating God doing a mighty work in the days and weeks to come!

If you have a word for this year – I’d love for you to share about it in the comments!

 

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