Have you ever heard someone say that praying for patience is dangerous? Here’s how the reasoning works: “If God is truly perfecting us, and practice makes perfect, He might just give you something to be patient about!” I know it sure seems to be true whenever I pray for patience.
Where do you need patience in your life? As I reflect on that, I often think about all the tough and trying things going on. When people are annoying me or circumstances are not going my way, I often find myself praying for patience. Yet we are now entering the Christmas season, a time of great joy and expectation.
I remember waking up as a kid on Christmas morning and seeing all those beautiful presents sitting there waiting for me to tear into them. It was like they were calling to me, full of wonder and mystery, with never-ending possibilities of what might be mine. They were adventures waiting to be explored and for fun to be had.
And it had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Luke 2:26
Imagine how Simeon must have felt to know that he would not die before seeing Jesus, the Messiah promised of old. Imagine waiting your whole life hoping for that day, and then to find out it would happen in your lifetime. What great excitement he must have felt going to the temple each day, hoping this was the one that would bring him face to face with his Savior!
What promise have you been patiently waiting God to fulfill? What prayer of hope have you been patiently waiting to have answered by God? God is on His throne, working His plan. This Christmas, we celebrate again that the Savior has come and will come again!
And so we—like Simeon—wait patiently for His arrival. We wait patiently for the true Hope of all earth to arrive. So keep praying. Be patient. For Jesus is coming, and He will restore all hope.
Our son loves telling people his name right now. If we ask him what his name is, he proudly tells us, in his excited-about-everything-in-life voice: “My name Eli Noah Christ!” It a good name, but it took us a while to come up with the perfect name for him.
There was so much pressure involved in choosing a name! We know so many kids from our time teaching and leading youth ministry that influences the choice. We struggled because this decision would last a life time. He would forever be called by the name we gave him.
God made a habit of giving new names to His people. The new names always have significance. Abram became Abraham; Saul became Paul. In some respects, their name defined who they would be from that time forward. The “original” name no longer defined them, replaced instead with a newer and greater one by God.
The name your parents gave you isn’t what defines you today. Rather, the name that you bear—the name God placed upon you—defines who you are and how you live.
And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:18
We have been called sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. We are His kids. That is the name that defines us now. Not Jason, Sue, Chuck or any other, but son or daughter of the Lord Almighty.
Halloween is so much fun as a kid. You dress up in a fun costume, then walk around the neighborhood ringing doorbells and receiving candy. When you get home (and maybe along the way!), you look at your haul and can’t wait to sit down and eat it. All of it!
Here’s what I’ve found though: what seems like a good idea at the time often isn’t really a good idea in the end. That big pile of candy in front of you? It sure seems like it would be good to eat it all right now. And at the time, it feels good to eat lots of candy. It’s so sweet and yummy going down, especially those peanut butter cups! But in a short while, you’ll be regretting it.
What is your pile of candy? Maybe it’s praise from others. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of beating that other salesman. Or maybe it’s more: more money, more stuff, more gadgets, more whatever.
Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6
Sometimes, there really is too much of a good thing. When Solomon talks about one handful of quietness, he’s really talking about contentment. It’s about being content with that one piece of candy rather than the whole pile. It’s about being satisfied with the one handful, rather than laboring and toiling after many.
How are you at practicing contentment? Are you living with the one handful, or are you striving for two? Where do you need God to give you His supernatural strength to overcome your own selfish greed and desires?
Have you ever settled for something less than the best? Maybe it was school that was not quite as good as your first choice, but it was cheaper or easier to get into. Maybe you were looking for that dream job, but you settled for the one that was available rather than risk the possibility of no job.
Martha had an up-close encounter with choosing better. She wanted her place to be perfect for Jesus’ visit. Like any good Jewish girl, she would have done this familiar routine hundreds of times for guests. But this time, her sister Mary left all the chores and responsibilities to her, choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Understandably upset, she approached Jesus, hoping He would tell Mary to get off her lazy behind and help out. But she didn’t expect His response:
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42
Have you settled for an OK relationship with God when He was calling you to choose better? Have you, like Martha, chosen the familiar over the better? As the Psalmist writes:
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10
When life gives you choices, choose better.