bearing, endurance, perseverance, persistence, staying power, stoicism, tolerance, forbearance, longanimity, (and my personal favorite) long suffering.
In the peaks and valleys of my walk, I have discovered that the valleys are not always the lamentable times that I assume they will be. I assume (over and over evidently) that simply because have began sojourning back down from the pinnacle of closeness with God that all hell will be released and my life will be miserable. But that is not the case. More often than my melodramatic journey I just described, I find that I am simply going through the motions, thus finding myself in a valley. It’s not intentional and that is the problem. I’m not being intentional about my time with God and so it becomes mediocre in nature. If you have spent any time around me, you know how I feel about mediocrity. But mediocrity can often be the enemy of intentionality.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently about being intentional. You see, she is in college and in love but she’s not such that her euphoric amore emotions fly away with her. Actually, kinda the opposite. She isn’t sure how to ensure that she stays in love; to maintain her level of adoration without it fading over time and that worries her. How do you keep from “falling out of love?”
I’m not an expert and can not claim to be a well seasoned veteran in this area, but I have seen it work in my own relationship over the past 7 years together, 5 years married with the added challenge of two small children. I have also born witness to the beautiful success that is my parent’s marriage of 32 years.
My overly simplified answer is intentionality. (If you were paying attention you should have guessed that since I gave prelude to it before my story) 🙂
By intentionally thinking about my husband, I recall the wonderful things he has done for me, the character he displays, and I find myself falling in love with him all over again. What I told her was that every day I make a choice. I choose to love my husband. That does not guarantee that I will like him for that entire day (something may come up and I will not like him for a period of time), but I will always love him. I intentionally think of what he likes, what he loves about me and I try to exemplify those characteristics for him. I serve him and he, in turn, also serves me.
It is hard, but it is a choice that I make to be intentional in my relationship with him to maintain our relationship and marriage.
I have not maintained that same intentionality with God lately. I have loved God. I have served him. I’ve read my Bible. I’ve prayed. But the difference is in my focus while doing all of those things. I done them, but haphazardly. I’ve been going through the motions.
Now I know how I feel when it seems like someone is only going through the motions with me, I can only imagine the level of patience that God is exuding toward me.
What’s interesting is that when I was looking up verses dealing with patience, most of them directly correlate to me and how I am representing God as someone claiming to follow him.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. –Ephesians 4:1-2, 3
Do I exemplify the characteristics that directly represent God to the world? Am I living in a manner “worthy of the calling to which (I) have been called”?
We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments,riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. –2 Corinthians 6:3-10
Is my mediocre slide in my walk creating an obstacle for someone who is still seeking God and searching for salvation?
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation… –2 Peter 3:15
I love the clarity of that verse. Early in the chapter, Peter is giving hope to the new heaven and new earth that awaits us at the end of this world. But those seemingly simple words, that are all to easy to read right over have the answer. It’s the answer to our suffering, it’s the answer to my lackadaisical season of my walk, it’s the answer to why the world is still turning when it has gone to hell (sometimes, I feel literally with so much of what we see today). God is showing his patience for us because he loves us so desperately that he wants people, his people, to have every possible opportunity to receive his love and salvation.
The earth is literally moaning. We see it in the “natural disasters” that are more and more violent and severe. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis… The earth is crying out to be relived from the brokenness it was succumbed to because of human’s inadequacy to listen to a single instruction. But God is not ready yet, because in the perfect moment, when every man, woman, and child has been given opportunity to know who God is and how much he loves us and to receive his grace, in that moment, his triumphant return will commence.
HE IS THAT PATIENT!
So, I know I’ll slip up again unfortunately. But the hope (and prayer) is that it will be a little shorter. It will be less mediocre. Less and less, until God helps me to break my pattern.
My hope in in my Lord, in whom I trust. All day every day, with growing intensity to continue to be worthy of the calling to which I have been called. Amen.