Writing this series and looking back over many of the things I’ve learned has made me realize something: I am a slow learner. I simply, truly, honestly cannot believe that even knowing the grace of God, it has taken me so long to know such small growth.
When I speak of being a slow learner, I don’t mean that I’m unintelligent, I mean that even what I do know I often have yet to learn in the sense of applying truth and being changed by it.
That, it seems, is impossible to rush. Yet this questions plagues me: How could it be that I still live the way I do when I know the things I know?
How long will God be patient with me? Will his patience eventually, finally, just give out?
As always, the gospel speaks comfort. The gospel takes this truth and gives me positive direction moving forward so that I am not left in despair. CJ Mahaney, in a message to pastors, recently quoted JI Packer:
Appreciate the patience of God. Think how he has borne with you, and still bears with you, when so much in your life is unworthy of him and you have so richly deserved his rejection. Learn to marvel at his patience, and seek grace to imitate it in your dealings with others; and try not to try his patience any more.
To this, CJ adds:
“Think how has borne with you, and still bears with you, when so much in your life is unworthy of him.” When you’re 56, you appreciate a statement like this more than when you were 25. I appreciated God’s patience then; I just appreciate it more now. He has patiently borne with me for 31 more years. My wife, my children, and the men I serve with in ministry know how true it is: there is so much of my life that is unworthy of him.
That rings true for me. I’ve seen that. I’ve seen the patience of God. I’ve gloried in it. My life, literally, depends on it. Now, heaven forbid, that I would ever be impatient with others. I need to hear what CJ says:
When I am impatient with others, I have temporarily lost sight of God’s patience with me. At the root of my impatience is self-righteousness and pride. Daily remembering God’s patience with me protects my soul from sinful impatience with others.
Having had this season to reflect on God’s grace in my life and his patience with me in protecting me and keeping me and bearing with me these 30 years, I pray that I would be patient with others. I pray that I would never for a moment be impatient at the slow growth of those around me. I pray that I would never be frustrated with them more than I’m frustrated at myself. I pray that I would love with a longsuffering love that hopes all things and patiently waits for God’s power to bring change.
But I know I’ll fail. I’m a slow learner. I’ll forget his patience with me and I’ll get impatient with you. And when I do I’ll need to experience his patience with me again. I’m so thankful for his gospel-patience. It’s my only hope.
** This concludes the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday. Thanks for joining on the journey! **