Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Laugh out Loud in the Clouds

I was driving yesterday just going about running a couple of errands before picking up my Kindergartner when God seemed to streamline into the seat next to me and look at me and communicate in the way He does best and it was as if my soul heard Him saying, “See this is what I mean.”
I already thought it seemed a little comical that I have been frustrated with this recent cold holding me down and God was drawing me to read about patience on two separate readings that morning. First, in Max Lucado’s book titled “A Love Worth Giving…Living in the overflow of God’s love,” I was opening my heart to hear once again how loving, patient and kind our God is to us. And recalling that just weeks ago in summer camp we taught the kids the truth in Proverbs 14:29…”Anyone who is patient has great understanding. But anyone who gets angry quickly shows how foolish he is.”
I admit that I am often motivated out of fear of punishment and I don’t want to be a fool…yet like the Word says in James 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” I can definitely be a person of patience…especially when people are watching; but I felt like God was asking me if His patience was radiating from my heart as His patience.
What does that patience look like? I read in Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor and two verses popped off of the page.
*Matthew 18:26 “The servant fell on his knees before him, “Be patient with me, he begged. And I will pay back everything.”
*Matthew 18:29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.”
I think I was at first just overwhelmed with the picture of this man on his knees crying out with repentance. Oh, it is not a picture that we see in this world often. We are prone to run from our mistakes and cover them up.
As I prayed and asked our Lord to please help me grasp this patience; He led me to yet another scripture…and I love what Psalm 103:8 says about God..He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love! Do we grasp this love? Do we ask Him for patience?
I have to admit that I have once been afraid to pray for patience; hearing in my early years as a Christian, “Oh, be careful what you pray for…don’t pray for patience…He will bring you lots of trials to acquire patience…” Today I am laying those lies down. It is a lie to think that God only grants us things through trials….I believe He will bless my obedience to surrender and yes trials may be a part of it…they are part of life. And if they stand for His greater purpose I will choose to embrace them.
It says in Gal 5:22 that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. A spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and a by- product of Christ’s control in our lives. All we need to do is ask Him for it.
I began to do just this and meditated on the Greek word: makrothumeo which is translated into patience and found only 3 times in the Gospel. It is the word that the servants are crying out in Matthew 18:26 &29 and is also found in Luke 18:7. Makrothumeo also has these meanings: to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart; to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles; to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging; to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.
Bear with me here... Have some makrothumeo…the verses in Matthew use this word to demonstrate a deep repentance and crying out for God to be patient with us sinners. And then the last time this word is used in the Gospel it is used after depicting the story of a persistent widow seeking help from the law. An ungodly judge gave the persistent widow what she was asking for because of her persistence. My commentary wanted to make the point that if an ‘ungodly judge’ would do this for someone; wouldn’t our loving patient God give us what we are asking for. Hallelujah! We know this to be true…John 16:24!
God’s word is living and breathing…for the very word makrothumeo can communicate both our need for God to be patient with us and for God’s promise to give us patience!
I once heard a pastor talk about needing to move God’s word from our head to our heart. Lord please help us makrothumeo…
1. Cry out to God our need for Him to be patient with us and admit we are sinners.
2. Acknowledge that God is patient with us
3. Embrace this patience and be patient with ourselves
4. Allow God’s patience to flow through us and give the gift of patience to someone else…everyone else in your life.
So, after praying over this, I was driving my van out of the subdivision preparing to turn left. When a vehicle approached with the right of way; waiting to turn left onto my street; when opportunity 1 and opportunity 2 arrived I felt impatience rise in my blood and wanted to hurry this car along…by opportunity 3 and 4 I was fuming (can you relate?) The person in the vehicle then motioned for me to go; probably because they noticed the fire coming out of my ears!!! Relieved to actually put my foot on the gas I sped on my way and there was God in my passenger seat smiling ever so patient at me!!! Oh Lord, please help me! I never laughed so hard at myself. How easy I can process through it and pray about it…but living it is another story! I so need Him!
God embraced my willing heart to seek Him and rejoiced with me a little later as I was singing to Matt Redman’s song “You Never Let Go.” I glanced up at the sky and right there in the clouds was a harp…and I swear I heard the angels singing along!!! I can’t do this alone and don’t ever want to think that I can. Thank you God for never letting go! Thank you for being ever so makrothumeo with me!!! I love you!!! May I honor you by allowing Your makrothumeo to flow through me.

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