Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patience is a virtue: Living with what I do not know

There are many things which sparked these thoughts, but the most all encompassing is probably my realisation of how impatient I am! I don't think this is always obvious in my character, people don't often tell me to have patience, but then they also don't see the state of my heart, don't hear my 'inner chatter' or my prayers, don't know the ins and outs of my walk with God. To be honest these are things even I only see in small glimpses, were I presented with them face on in all their human frailty and sinfulness, I would not survive it. God have mercy. The glimpses alone are enough to challenge me, and to leave me open before God. I am impatient. I want things I should not; I want things that are good and desirable, but I want them on my terms and in my timescale i.e. now if not sooner. I will tell God I want to Know my weaknesses so I can give them to him (code: know how to start sorting them out myself - that's the best way right?). I will tell God I want to Know if this person is the person he has planned for me, and I need to know now because then I can know what to pray about our relationship (code for: I won't need to face quite how idolatrous I am capable of being...). I will tell God I want to hear him speak, but it needs to be now while I squeeze my quiet time into five minutes before rushing out to work/curling up in bed. There is much going on here, but I have really started to realise how I want to live according to my plan and not God's, how unwilling I am to wait for the Good he brings, and how little I like not knowing when that Good will come.

The thing is, however good the thing I desire is, if I only desire it on my terms then I am listening to the lie of the serpent in the garden, that it would be better if I had it now, that I need it now to be complete. What happens in the Garden of Eden is the first act of idolatry, and Knowledge is the idol. Eve desires now what God does not intend her to have yet, and the result is death - that's the cost of impatience! When crossing a road, if you don't wait for the green man you're risking being knocked down by a car, no matter how well you think you've looked for traffic (I realise this is an imperfect example - I myself have crossed many roads without waiting for the little green man, and have lived to tell the tale - by the grace of God...). Eve thinks she's weighed up the risks fine on her own, but there's no green man.  Knowledge in and of itself is not evil, there is no reason to believe that Adam and Eve would not have obtained knowledge had they obeyed God's command and continued to live his way. But in taking the shortcut to knowledge, choosing to have it instantly rather than through a day-by-day, year-by-year walk with God, they tried to cross the road without waiting for the lights.

When I want God's good gifts on my terms and not his, I am trying to take that same short-cut. I want the treasure at the end of the journey without having to go on the journey itself. I want the joy of knowing God, without spending time getting to know him. I want a person who will know me, live with me and love me without going through the time, misunderstandings and hard work of learning to live with and love someone. I know (or at least believe!) that getting to know someone is a lifetime's work, and getting to know God is the work of eternity.

Why must I wait for that relationship I so want? I do not Know. But that doesn't mean my waiting will be idle. God is at work in every moment of my life, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day on the journey that will come at last to the marriage of the Bridegroom and the Bride.

Why must I wait to hear the voice of God? I do not Know. But that doesn't mean I wait in vain, for in my waiting I glimpse more of who God really is, I rest in him and feed on his Word, so when he speaks I recognise his voice.

In grasping at Knowledge, we find it is more than we can bear and death is our reward. In waiting faithfully, and walking day by day in the garden with God, we have access to the tree of Life, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And in the waiting and the walking, maybe we will find that the Knowledge might be ours also. Knowledge (even gained the right way) is of less significance than that which is Known. My joy is not that I KNOW God, but that I know GOD.

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