David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Patience”

The Patience of Job (Part 1 of 2)

I beg your pardon,

I never promised you a rose garden.

Along with the sunshine,

There’s gotta be a little rain sometimes.

             —Lynn Anderson, Rose Garden

 

I sat at my desk re-reading the Document Control and Change Management Process Guide for the umpteenth time that afternoon. Even though the process manual was coming together nicely, I felt it was taking much too long to finish—every time I typed the last period, another flaw in the procedure would jump out from behind a paragraph and yell “boo.” I leaned forward, determined to clear up the lingering confusion. I sighed. I’d been polishing the document for at least a week, but it hadn’t yet taken a shine.

Chad, the owner of the company, looked up from his computer. I’d been working for him as a contract electronic designer for over three years, and recently he’d asked me if I’d be willing to take on more hours. He’d rebuilt the eight-year-old business from the ground up, a nascent phoenix rising from the ashes of the Great Recession. I’d accepted the increased workload without question, recognizing not only the opportunity to help Chad rebuild his company, but also the chance to witness God’s outpouring of supernatural provision.

“I need your opinion on something,” Chad said. He then asked for my input on one facet of his company vision. I welcomed the break, and after we’d chatted for a couple of minutes, the conversation turned toward one of my favorite subjects: trust. “To make this business work we’re going to have to find people we can trust. I trust you,” he assured, “but I’m still going to ask you a lot of questions.” Having worked in the defense industry for 27 years, I could relate—the Government overseers with whom I’d worked occasionally reminded us that their job was to “trust but verify.” Having stepped out in faith and obedience to write a book full time, I could relate even more. As King Solomon advised his son in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV):

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

 

It’s all a God thing, as I like to say. But trust takes a bunch of patience, the patience of Job.

Despite the outward manifestation of God’s faithfulness over the years, trust and I are still awkward partners in this life’s dance. For the past couple of decades, trust in both God and myself has grown, not like a cottonwood—fast and weak, subject to cracking and breaking under extreme conditions—but like a pecan tree—slow, strong and resilient. And after years of lifting my branches toward heaven, I’m bearing fruit—a bumper crop—the first of many to come. I recognize that, yet …

As Chad and I talked, the subject of patience, especially in the financial realm, followed on the heels of trust. “It’s hard to be patient when all you see is red,” Chad reflected. “But we just need to stay the course.” Definitely easier said than done. If trust and I are still uneasy dance partners, patience and I are continuing sparring buddies. In my book, The Epiphany of Joy, I mentioned that I once asked God, “What’s my worst sin?”

“Impatience,” He answered immediately. The response came with no hesitation.

What’s that saying? “If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.”

I carry around the infractions of my impatience like a well-worn but ever-growing rap sheet. I’ve wrecked cars because of my impatience. I’ve lost money—lots and lots of money—because of impatience. I’ve missed countless opportunities to grow and learn because of impatience. I’m impatient with the pace of God’s financial outpouring. I’m impatient with the rate of acceleration of my writing career. I’m impatient with myself. If the wages of sin is death, then the salary of impatience is regret. I’d do well to write the words of Charlotte Bronte across the chalkboard of my heart: “Remorse is the poison of life.”

We talk about the patience of Job, how he endured Satan’s relentless attacks against his family, property and health while never cursing God. We talk about how he endured the persistent and sometimes foolish judgment of his so-called friends and how he remained convinced that God’s wrath (in reality Satan’s tempting and God’s testing) was unfounded and unfair. But this story is really about the patience (and mercy) of God rather than the patience of Job. Job, though blameless in God’s eyes, was not without sin. The poor guy was in denial:

 

So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.

—Job 32:1-2 NKJV

 

The sin Job didn’t recognize was his own self-righteousness. Only after God stepped in and wire brushed him did Job finally open his heart, repent and relinquish all to his Creator. And after Job did as God commanded—praying for his friends—God restored his wealth and his position: “And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10 NKJV).

(continued)

 

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

Learning to Love the Silence (2014-01-10 Daily) [2 of 2]

Distraction is a powerful weapon in the devil’s arsenal.  And if distraction is Satan’s white noise, then busyness is his sniper rifle.  He picks us off moment by moment with each act of selfishness, each act of pride, each act of apathy.  Busyness aims for our hearts, so we need to be vigilant against his schemes and slip on and tightly buckle the breastplate of truth, because, as Solomon offered in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Including our capacity to listen.   But we have to remember that, as children of God, we possess the power to come against anything the devil throws at us.  As Paul instructed in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  The Spirit gives us self-discipline.  Self-discipline to listen.  Self-discipline to obey.  Self-discipline to pray.  Self-discipline to quiet ourselves before God, enter His throne room, and acknowledge Who He is, a privilege bought for us by the blood of His Son.  And the Spirit gives us self-discipline to be still.  To love the silence.  “Be still, and know that I am God,” the Psalmist quoted God in Psalm 46:10a (NIV).  In the New American Bible translation, the same line is translated “Desist!  and confess that I am God.”  Desist, God says, as in cease, stop, quit it!   And the Message translation puts it this way: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.”  “Stop!” God is saying to us, “Stop with your busyness, stop with your self-focus, stop with your fretting, your distractedness, your small-mindedness, and confess and acknowledge that I am God!”

 

The Lord said [to Elijah], “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

–1 Kings 19:11-13

 

God’s voice comes in a whisper.  No wonder we complain we never hear it.  He desires a dialog with us, not a monolog.  He desires to show us His glory, and when we recognize His glory and tell others about it, He is glorified.  And we are satisfied.  But to hear God’s voice, we have to learn how to love the silence.  Patiently.

I admit I struggle with patience, and I sometimes have a hard time waiting for the Lord to provide guidance, direction, and timing.  Once I asked God what my greatest sin was.  “Impatience,” He replied.  I heard His voice loud and clear, but, sadly, patience and I still don’t see each other eye-to-eye.  I’ve wrecked cars because of impatience, lost a ton of money because of impatience, suffered through a bad first marriage and worse divorce because of impatience.  But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is very clear: those who waited on the Lord with an attitude of patient expectation received the Lord’s promises.  And when they didn’t wait, well, the Bible is full of examples of folks jumping the gun.  One of the most remarkable is the story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael.  In Genesis 15, God promised Abram he’d be the father of nations, a people as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the beach.  But when Sarai didn’t conceive right away, she grew impatient, and in Genesis 16 she urged Abram, already in his mid-80’s, to sleep with the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar.  Of course, Abram complied.  The result: Ishmael, “a wild donkey of a man” according to the angel of the Lord in Genesis 16:11.  Isaac finally came along when Abram, who’s name God changed to Abraham, reached 100.  God kept His promise to bless Abraham’s descendants, and while Ishmael received God’s blessing, God established the covenant with Isaac, who fulfilled God’s promise at the appointed time.

After Pharaoh finally relented and commanded Moses and Aaron to take the Israelite people and leave Egypt, God led the Hebrews out of the land of their 430-year slavery along the desert road instead of through the land of the Philistines, until He commanded them to camp next to the Red Sea.  The Israelites found themselves with desert behind them and the Red Sea in front of them, and for all intents and purposes, they had their backs against the wall when the king of Egypt changed his mind about letting his slaves go and sent his chariots after the Hebrews to recapture them.

Immediately the Israelites, numbering more than 600,000, cried out to God and started complaining to Moses:  “’What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”?  It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” (Exodus 14:11b-12 NIV).  As their slave mentality oozed from God’s chosen people, Moses looked past the physical impossibility of their situation and exhorted them to continue to trust the God who had freed them from Egyptian slavery.  But instead of calling for action, Moses urged the Hebrews to do the opposite:  “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV).

You need only to be still.  And when they kept still, the Lord opened a passage through the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through to safety on dry land.  When the Hebrews replaced fear with trust and held their ground, God performed one of the most spectacular miracles the world has ever known.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 30:15.  But in our society, rest, quietness, and trust are in short supply as we strive and struggle through everyday life just to keep up.  And isn’t that the trouble?  We strive to keep up.  But as adopted sons and daughters of the Most High King, there are only two commands God expects us to follow: love Him, and love each other.  That’s it.  “Live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear,” the apostle Peter wrote in his first epistle (1 Peter 1:17).  Love God, love each other, love yourself.  Rest, repent, trust.  Listen.  Learn to love the silence.

 

–THE END–

Copyright ©2014 by David C. Hughes

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: