I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
This week’s SS lesson is about patience. Funny how we get impatient with other people, while wishing at times, that others were more patient with us. However I do know some very patient people. To explain what I am talking about I will have to make a very dark confession. A confession that you probably never thought you would have to hear a lay preacher make. But here goes…..I am 44 years old and am just now learning how to tie a tie! I have been wearing clip-ons for years! Embarrassing I know. I started wearing clip-ons when I was a kid and never really learned to tie a tie because I thought, why bother, just wear clip-ons. Also I never saw the importance of a tie, kind of like Adventist pioneer James White who never wore a tie because to him it was useless adornment. But it became very complicated. People would give me real ties for gifts and then I am sure would wonder why I never wore them.
In my late 30s I tried to turn this around as my friend Doug in Texas would try to teach me how to tie a tie. Problem is I would get frustrated and go back to wearing clip-ons and forget everything I learned and poor Doug would have to start all over teaching me again. He was so patient. So is my dad who recently helped me tie my tie in time to get to my grandmother’s funeral. Then there is my good friend Adam who has been secretly teaching me here in Tampa. Secretly because a lay preacher my age should already know how to tie a tie. Once I shocked a poor mother when she was telling her ten year old son in church that he needed to start wearing real ties instead of clip-ons because he was becoming a young man now. I unclipped my tie in front of them and said, “clip-ons like this?” She was shocked to see that I was not wearing a real tie. That’s when I decided I better get serious about learning to tie a real tie.
Adam has been helping me and I have been watching Youtube videos that have helped too. Now every Sabbath morning I get in front of the mirror to tie my tie and how well I do is about as unpredictable as my golf game. One week I get it on the third or fourth try and other weeks I have to give up and grab a clip-on so I can make it to church on time.
Point is that My dad, Doug and Adam have been very patient in teaching me. They don’t complain that they have already showed me a hundred times. They don’t call me stupid and remind me that a 7 year old could do this. They have shown me the best definition of patience and that is turning frustrating moments into opportunities to teach. Isn’t that what Jesus did over and over with the disciples? When they would not remember a lesson He would teach them over and over again. After all we do learn by repetition.
I have had to learn my own lessons on patience. A few weeks ago I was driving up to a light and got in the left turn lane. The light was green but the truck in front of me was just sitting there so I decided to go around him. As I swerved around him I found my self in the path of an oncoming ambulance with sirens blaring! Oh! That’s what the guy in the truck was waiting on! A few weeks later I am at the bank in a lane with two of those vacuums so I pull up to the second one and another car pulls in behind me to the first one. He got his transaction completed before I did and started honking at me to move! I was still waiting on my money but I pulled out so he could go and he gave me this dirty look as he sped by. I backed back in to get my money. I thought, why couldn’t he understand that I was not through yet? He thought I was finished when I wasn’t and was just sitting there. Then I remembered the truck at the light and how I did not understand why he was just sitting there. So now I have learned to be as patient with others as I would have them to be with me.
One more illustration: Some things in the Bible seem very clear to me, for example, the Sabbath. I wonder why other people can’t see it. There it is right in the middle of the Ten Commandments. Well, when I first moved to Tampa I exited *Maple Avenue from I-275 and drove straight to my new apartment. For years I told everyone I lived off of Maple Avenue. However Tampa is one of those cities where the same street will change names several times as you drive across town. Well after three years I am sitting at the light by my house, looking at the street sign like I have done hundreds of times before, but this time I noticed something. The street sign says “Elm” not Maple. The street changed names and for three years I had not realized that and was telling everyone I lived somewhere else. Now it does not seem so silly to me how other people can see something in the Bible and not notice it just like for three years I had not noticed that I did not live on the street I thought I did. For three years I had been stopping at that light with the sign right in front of me and I never noticed it did not say what I thought it did. So now I understand how someone can read something in the Bible and still not “see” it.
My prayer this year is that I will be as patient with people as I would like them to be with me!
* I used fictitious street names to protect my privacy.
You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.