Patiently Waiting for the Harvest
Recently, I ordered some seeds and supplies for my garden, and thanks to having Amazon Prime, I was guaranteed “next day” shipping. However, the “next day” came and went, and around 9:00 PM, I received a shipping update saying my package was delayed. Needless to say, my patience was tested, and I realized that the phrase “patience is a virtue” has been all but lost within our culture. Patience is no longer seen as a desirable trait, because we have been conditioned for instant gratification. “When do we want it? NOW!”
Unfortunately, this lack of patience has trickled into our faith as well. Whether we admit it or not, we often desire a God that is like a magician or superhero who comes to the rescue at lightning speed. But that’s not how life works. Nor is that how God works. The deficiency of our wants, wills, and desires compared to the reality of life and of God can often become a stumbling block.
In reality, quick fixes never really solve anything. They’re either a Band-Aid or they fail to address the true source of the problem. We’re quick to latch onto things we can control, like our environments or situations, when our focus should be on changing ourselves.
Changing ourselves is at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Time and time again, Jesus invited his disciples to change their lives and reorient their hearts to be more in line with the very heart and Kingdom of God. However, the human condition gets in the way. It is only by the grace of God that even though we fail, God still calls and claims us as his own. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
In my opinion, one of the greatest theological understandings about God’s grace came from one of the pioneers of the Methodist Movement, John Wesley. Wesley believed in God’s grace embodied in three different facets, which we experience throughout our lives: Prevenient, Justifying, and Sanctifying. God’s grace is given to humanity as a gift and understood in different ways throughout the seasons of our lives. Grace is an integral part of our relationship with Jesus Christ and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Throughout this life, we embark on the journey and process of Sanctification, “being perfected in love.” Wesley described Christian perfection as a heart filled with “the love of God and neighbor” and as “having the mind of Christ and walking as he walked.”
Sometimes this journey is truly a process. We often do not get the outcomes we expect or want, and our “virtue” of patience wears thin. We don’t like being told to “wait” whether it is for a package or for someone to call us back, but it is in waiting that we find hope. The apostle Paul told the church in Rome to “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor… Rejoice in hope, be patient in seasons of tribulation, and persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:9-12)
As we patiently wait for the harvest to come, may we all press forward together in the love and hope we find in Christ Jesus.