Patience Is a Good Deed
I have been pondering what I wrote yesterday about the connection between faith and works, wondering what really constitutes “works” and who should get the credit for them.
First, I want to say that I can’t take the credit for the good works or deeds God has produced in me because of the faith I have in Him. When I look back on a particularly “good deed” I can generally see that what I have done was not what I would have naturally wanted to do. It is the Holy Spirit working in and through me.
Let me give you an example of how simple, and yet not like me, a “good deed” can be. The example is one of patience. I am, by nature, not a patient person. If you were to see me in my car driving to work in the morning, you would know that. I talk out loud to other drivers who take a few too many seconds to take off at the traffic light or who drive a mile or two below the speed limit. These verbal complaints regarding my impatience with other drivers can come in the middle of singing a great Christian song by Jeremy Camp or Third Day. So, you can see, by nature I am quite impatient.
So last Friday I went to my favorite sub sandwich shop for lunch, arriving a few minutes after 12:00. There were only two people in line in front of me, which I was happy about because that meant I would only have to wait a few minutes after ordering to be on my way with my sandwich. It had been a particularly trying morning at work, and I was ready for a nice relaxing time blogging while I ate my lunch.
When I ordered, the woman behind the counter (who managed to remember my name about the 4th time I ate there) told me they were short-handed and it would be more of a wait than usual. I said that was okay and placed my order. It turns out they had two people call in sick, and I think the guy making sandwiches was her husband and he didn’t really know what he was doing. After seeing several people who came in after me get their sandwiches before me, mine was finally ready 45 minutes later! This whole situation was a perfect recipe for impatience to rear its ugly head.
But amazingly, I didn’t feel at all impatient. I even heard myself tell others who were waiting that the long wait was better than the employees who called in sick getting germs on our food. I remained polite to the owner and thanked her for the sandwich as I left. She commented that she appreciated my patience.
This tiny act of exhibiting patience in this situation served to alleviate the stress of this poor woman whose employees had called in sick. (Did I mention it was a beautiful, sunny Friday? The nicest we’ve had in months?) This simple “good deed” had an impact on another individual dealing with a difficult situation. But it wasn’t my deed, because as I said above, I’m not a patient person. But God is exceedingly patient, and I simply allowed Him to exhibit His patience in me.
What simple good deed does God what to do through you today?
This one ministered to me. I too…find myself getting irritated about small things…and I have seen God dealing with me on this area time and time again. And well, I don’t think the lesson of patience can be learned in just a few occasions but rather…throughout a lifetime.
Lord…help us. And thank you for your honesty on this one.
Gladwell, I agree this is a work of a lifetime. But I know that He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion. I started an empty canvas, and the painting is only partially done. But it is already more beautiful today than it was in the beginning thanks to the Artist.