Be Still: Patience is a Virtue

I love to hunt. Some of my earliest memories are my dad, my uncle, and myself all heading out into the field to hunt deer in the winter or turkey in the spring. Those were some great times of fun and fellowship. However, they were also great times for learning life lessons. The majority of the lessons learned center around stillness. Stillness involves exactly what you think it does, little to no movement and little to no sound. I can’t tell you the number of deer or turkey that I have spooked because I couldn’t be still and felt the need to move. Life, like hunting, is a waiting game. To many it might seem like you are not doing anything, but the stillness is accomplishing so much. This is what I want to work through in a few short words:  What does it look like to be patient? What does it look like to wait upon the Lord?

The lives of Christians should display the Fruit of the Spirit. That fruit can be found in Galatian 5:22:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” As we are sanctified by growing in the image of Christ and His holiness, our lives will further display the attributes of Christ as described by the Fruit of the Spirit. This means that we serve a God who is never in a hurry. God has continually put this truth in front of me this year — our God is a God of patience. This means that, as His child, I want to be a person of patience. But that is a difficult task. The primary problem is that, like you, I am not God. Despite this truth, we often act like we are God and that creates in us the desire for things to happen immediately. We must remember that we live within the confines of time and our lives are but a vapor (as the writer of Ecclesiastes states repeatedly). Therefore, when we want things in this life we want them under the tyranny of urgency. This is the feeling of urgency that propels us into thinking that God is not moving fast enough. Or, sometimes it manifests in us believing that God wants us to move faster. This is how we think in our sinfulness as we seek after our own desires. Remember that, as Christians, we should be seeking and striving daily for holiness in looking more like Jesus. This is often the opposite of fast.

God lives outside of the parameters of time. This is what Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:8-9:  “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” One of my favorite preachers, Alistair Begg, once said in a sermon that “it’s the plain things in the Bible that are some of the hardest things to accept.” This text in 2 Peter is plain. God is long-suffering. He takes His time and it is not for us to know the when and the where. Those reasons belong only to the providence of God.

So, how are you called to live in light of this? Are you called to just sit around and twiddle your thumbs while you wait on the Lord? No, absolutely not! Think back to the analogy of hunting that I used earlier. Remember I wrote that the stillness wasn’t wasted time. The stillness had great purpose. One part of that purpose was to listen. Brothers and sisters, when we are still before the Lord and are patiently waiting on Him, we should be listening for Him. What do I mean by that? I don’t mean that we should be listening for an audible voice out of the clouds. I mean that we should be spending time with the Lord in His presence through the reading of His Word. God has so graciously given us an entire collection of writings that tell us who He is, and how we are to live in light of knowing Him. However, we can only hear Him in these times if we are still, both in body and mind.

In addition to being quiet and still, another action performed in hunting is observing. Which way is the wind blowing? Which path seems to be the most traveled? Which patch of ground seems to be good for eating? Which areas in the woods provide the best natural covering? The same is true in our spiritual life. If we are constantly in motion, never taking the time to slow down, we will miss so much. We will miss the subtle non-verbal cues of a loved one that hints at their emotional state. We will miss the gradual changes in the lives of people around us that reveal their growth towards God or their drift away from Him. We will miss what God is doing in our own hearts because we are too focused on the next thing or too focused on our own thing. Brothers and sisters we must slow down and take captive every thought and every action (2 Cor. 10:1-6). We must be with the Lord. If we are constantly in motion, never taking the time to hear from the Lord or observe His leading, then we are just using the Lord as a tool to achieve some self-righteous goal. This is not what the Christian life is about. The Christian life is not about self-achievement. The Christian life is about understanding and living in the love that Christ has for us, and then returning that love with our whole being.

And that is the catch — the hitch pin in our ability and willingness to wait and be still. We must die to ourselves! We must put our full weight and trust on the Lord and His will for our lives. This is the great and abiding hope that we have. This is the command and pleading of our Savior from Mathew 11:28-30:  “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Jesus says that you can rest and that you no longer have to worry about the things of this world. You no longer have to carry the burden of finding and creating joy and purpose in your life. No, you just have to behold Him (the Savior of the world) and trust that He will care for you. We can know that He cares for us because He died for us. So, let’s just be still and sit beside the still waters of the sovereign presence of the Creator of the universe. Let’s let God worry about the timing and the outcomes, because He has it taken care of and He only gives good things to His children.

Because of Christ,

Austin Strange