Andrea, in her 40s, tells how one day after high school she scurried home and sounded off to her mother that she was hungrier than a horse. "When's dinner, Mom?" she reverberated over and over. To further the anticipation of supper, it was Andrea's Birthday, and Mom was fixing her favorite meal: sirloin steak (medium rare), Maine lobster tail soaked in a buttery sauce, and deep-fried homemade french fries.
Andrea recalls how the fresh potatoes crackled in the hot oil as they were lowered into the iron pot. She remembered how the steak sizzled in its juices, a language all its own, drawing the attention of inquisitive minds to stop, look, and listen to the succulent secretions. Andrea recalls disdainfully pleading and prodding her Mom to "hurry it along."
Mom turned to her only daughter and chimed back, "Andrea, now you calm right down. Remember, all good things in life take time and will come to those who have PATIENCE."
Such stories are too familiar in personal and family life. They often overflow into the workplace and larger community. Perhaps, one reason we as U.S. citizens have such an unwillingness to endure the state of affairs with big government is because too many politicians have such a high level of intolerance while practicing bipartisanship for the people's good, thus creating a myriad of unresolved issues which can only be fixed when all parties practice PATIENCE.
The Holy Bible and other segments of sacred literature speak about PATIENCE at many levels. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah writes, "Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Then again, the Psalmist writes, "(God) finds pleasure in those who respect and revere the Lord, in those who await God's steadfast love" (Psalm 147:11; in part paraphrase).
Patient endurance, patient tolerance, patient perseverance - these are attributes of God which serve as models for us to follow the Godly Life. Patience, like quality food for the poor, seems to be increasingly in short supply. The reasons are many because the problems faced are multi-faceted.
Nevertheless, imagine a world where there is more patience demonstrated with appreciation, its close cousin, shown. For example, when you and I buy groceries, the clerk might even say "thank you," instead of copping an attitude that leaves us feeling that he is doing us a favor, which is often the case.
Many of our economic, political, and social woes stem from our unwillingness, hence self-imposed inability, to patiently receive one another and extend patience in return. We want quick returns on our efforts. Imagine Wall Street's effectiveness if investors were more patient of hopeful results and insider trading outlawed. All Christians know The Lord's Prayer, but do we practice the words we can recite verbatim: "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive others who sin against us"? Forgiveness requires patience.
Christians have entered the time of Lent: a Forty-Day Journey of drawing closer to our Patient God so that we might rediscover how patiently close God is to us.
Whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jew or Buddhist, the Sacred Presence of the Divine is always close through patience with us. In reverent appreciation for the Almighty, the least we can do is demonstrate the same with each other. This is when we are best able to appreciate the Divine Presence of God, who seeks to guide us along Life's Journey of Faith, which is more than just any 40-day Journey in time and space.
- Shellhamer is the pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Williamsport.