The Rev. Thomas Nibbe
Sunday, August 30, 2020 @ 11 a.m.
Dear God, today we need your help…we need to draw upon your wisdom. We’re not very patient people. We always seem to want what we want…and we want it now. Therefore, we’re willing to take up the task to learn the fine art of patience. When we often feel powerless…because we’re waiting for something to happen…and in waiting…we’re not in control…we’ll focus on the power available to us by learning to wait, and to know you are always faithful to help us! You have ordained patience as holiness and we know there is purpose in waiting. We won’t always be perfect in our pursuits, but we’re sure you’ll understand. Amen.
…in the essential moments of life we give up too easily…
…we want what we want and we want it now…
…we give up not realizing that God’s timing in our lives is perfect…
…we have a destiny in life and patience releases the knowledge of this destiny…
We continue to live each day with the pandemic all around us. We have all had to sacrifice and conform to some degree or other in meeting the multiple challenges of our time. These are days to consider issues of justice, mercy and law-enforcement. Political issues keep us all on edge to some degree or other. We askourselves the question…How much of this can we stand? The issue of patience and waiting comes very much into the picture. What would the Lord Jesus want us to consider as folks who trust in Him these days.
The people who are most successful in living are those who have learned to wait. These are the folks who are pleasant to be with and a pleasure to know. They have time to be your friend and time to allow things to develop. They seem to have a confidence in things that others do not have. They usually don’t make rash decisions. They know that all things will work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His Spirit (Romans 8:28). The art of being patient gives us powerful presence of mind.
During the Second World War, General Douglas MacArthur is famous for saying, “I shall return!” He waited patiently for years to finally return to the Philippines. General George S. Patton, Jr., as tough as nails, but a believer, asked his chaplain to pray for the snow to melt, and waited for the Lord’s answer, which came on time for his tanks to pursue the enemy into Germany. Saint Monica (Santa Monica) prayed constantly for her wayward son, Augustine, for forty years without any anxiety or doubt. She knew the Lord would work in the life of her son, and as a result, the Lord presented the Church with one of the greatest theologians.
The people who are most successful in truly loving others are those who have learned to wait on the Lord to bring about change. Most give up after while…it often seems a hopeless case…but the “truly faithful” keep praying in assurance. The Lord will not give up on those who seem hopeless or what circumstance seems a waste of time. God’s timing is perfect. Some persons we have kept in prayer for decades. We don’t plead. We don’t get frustrated. We don’t get mad or profoundly disappointed at the setbacks. We’ll let the weeks and months and years go by. God is faithful—He knows what He’s doing! You have to leave it up to Him. Wait. Trust in the Lord. Carry on with your life. Sometimes his intervention is immediate. Sometimes intervention takes place after what seems ages, but remember that God’s timing is always perfect. We can always trust in the Lord when we commit ourselves into His perfect plan for our lifes. That’s what faith is all about. Note the best definition of faith we have:
“….now faith is being sure of what we hope for…
and being certain of what we cannot yet see…” (Hebrews 11:1)
[…please note these key words……sure…..certain…….we don’t see anything written therein regarding the words…”maybe…if…perhaps”…this sentence from the Bible does not suggest that, first, we have to be morally perfect, fastidiously correct in all the affairs of our lives, and so forth. Be yourself. Do your best.]
There aren’t too many people I know who “enjoy waiting” and there aren’t too many people who enjoy the art of being patient. Waiting is a powerful tool that helps us to accomplish a lot of good. A person needs to sincerely and conscientiously work at it. The result is…Godly patience is a true sign of genuine faith.
There is one thing we’ve learned from life. We can’t always have what we want when we want it. Often in life, what wewant to do doesn’t happen. What we want to have doesn’t materialize. Most notably, what we want to be in life, indeed, doesn’t happen to us. What we want to accomplish on our time schedule doesn’t happen and we get frustrated. Let God have His day. Follow your personal vision. Also be prepared to abandon our personal vision for some unexpected opportunity which comes up you could never have anticipated. In that sense, it is a matter of “letting go” of ultimate control of our lives. God always has something better for us.
In the course of our lives, we often have dreams and aspirations about what we will do and what we will be.
Yet, these dreams seem beyond our reach, at least, in our present situation. However, as we dream, working actively on things we wish for ourselves, we are able to envision…with patience…a future reality for ourselves and as well as those we love and pray for.
Priscilla and I found ourselves with our three daughters in Berkeley in 1972. We strongly sensed a Call from the Lord to serve in Pakistan as missionaries. For four years, we sought a visa from the Pakistani government without success. They were not encouraging missionaries to come. It was hurtful to me that my father, who never questioned me or my decisions, suggested that I was lying to him about going to Pakistan. We couldn’t help but be discouraged. A lady who prayed for us from time to time, received a Bible verse to share in this time:
“…being confident of this that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
—- the key phrase here was “…carry it on to completion…” —-
That put us back on track.
Meanwhile, not long after that, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, where I was working, we had a special guest speaker, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Honorable Javad Iqbal, also the son of Maulana Mohammad Iqbal, the great Muslim political philosopher and poet of India, whose idealism created the notion of Pakistan. I attended his lecture and afterward had an abundance of questions about Pakistan and it’s relationship with Islam. He seemed impressed — and asked if I would like to join him for supper. We had a great time and then returned, down the street, to his hotel. He asked, “Why don’t you come to Pakistan? You need to come to Pakistan!” I replied, “I would love to come to Pakistan, but I can’t!” He asked why not. I answered, “We have tried for years and the foreign office refused to allow us to come!” His response, “Outrageous!” “Wait,” I said, “…you don’t understand…we would come as missionaries…” Iqbal replied, “It doesn’t make any difference…As soon as I get back to my room I will call the foreign office and you will have a visa immediately!”
And that was that!
God put one of the most important, best known Pakistanis in the world into our backyard to usher Priscilla and I into the land of Pakistan…and as missionaries! If you have a vision, if you have a dream…God has a way to fulfill it! In our case, except for the Lord, we waited without any assurance whatsoever for years. God came through for us. The Lord brought the most distinguished Pakistani half way around the globe, within our very neighborhood, to provide a way to do, what was for us, had been impossible.
We can trust that everything we dream and anticipate is “on schedule”. Waiting is not wasted time. The person with the mindset of faith knows that something is always being worked out. The Scriptures suggest that the Lord doesn’t abandon us or our dreams. One of the great dreamers of the Bible was Joseph, one of my favorite Bible characters. In faith, with God’s help, he always turned impossible situations into realities.
The Lord is at work in the minds and the hearts of those who have placed their trust in Him. He has a plan for us within the context of a real world. He honors our dream which honors Him. He honors our aspiration which honors him. His timing is perfect and we can depend on him. To the person of faith, the art of waiting is essential for our personal walk, day by day, and year by year.
“He makes everything beautiful in His time. He also sets eternity upon the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men and women to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his or her work…this is a gift from God…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-13)
We don’t put our lives “on hold” while we wait. We tell the Lord we trust the vision He has given us that will become evident in His perfect timing. We also direct our attention elsewhere for the time being. We become confident in acceptance of our person. We practice gratitude, not as a feeling, but as an attitude—
It becomes for us “the attitude of gratitude”. We live an abundant life while we are waiting. We go about living that great life. In the midst of waiting, the dream has a way of realizing itself.
Deal with your frustration. Deal with your impatience…learn how to wait…
Address your frustration. Don’t keep it in. Your frustration and lack of patience will poison you. Seek out another faithful person to share it. Dr. Fritz Perls used to say, “We are our secrets.” When we keep our feelings inside and we don’t share them, they have a tendency to proliferate, and become a permanent part of who we are. We can look reasonably good on the outside but be unwell deep within. Eventually we become transparent to others. When we share our negative feelings we release them and they flee from us. The reason for communities of faith is to have faithful friends to share our burdens and give us hope.
Learn how to be patient. Make it a goal to be very adept at waiting.
“Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37, a Psalm of King David)
I’m thinking back to the Rolling Stones lyrics, “You can’t always get what you want…” It just isn’t always true.
Often, in our lives, we can get what we want, and might I say, especially the desires of our hearts, if we learn patiently to wait. We would follow a long line of patient believers in learning and practicing this important lesson in life and faith. When we do this, others notice a new maturity in our faith lives in the Lord Jesus.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you in these challenging times.
Be safe. Be healthy. Be well.
(The Rev. Thomas Nibbe is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Pacifica.)