Monday, August 9, 2010

Teaching Monsters to Wait

I'm an impatient Christian. I have an "inordinate desire of being delivered from the evil which (I) desire: and yet there is nothing which tends more to increase evil, and prevent the enjoyment of good, than an unquiet mind" - Francis de Sales (17th century spiritual director).

Have you ever felt the monster of impatience slouching around in your soul, robbing you of peace, stealing joy, and blinding you from the Holy Spirit, your reality and ever-present counselor? I do. As a child of God, wrestling with the reality of sin, I like slinking around with my monster. My monster and I agree that we want to get over my sin problem right now, or yesterday!

However, I'm learning, with much help from Gary Thomas' book, Authentic Faith (audacious title eh?), that the God I serve stands outside of time. While he is concerned with my growth and maturity, he doesn't often move as quickly as I desire. In fact, he seems to move really slow, to the chagrine of my monster and me.

His seeming slowness, combined with the reality of my impatience, lead to a really, really "unquiet mind." My monster agrees. My monster, rather than being fed by God's peace, is fed on thoughts that begin with "I just wish God..." and "I wish I'd..."

What I'm finding is that I'm a very prideful person. To be honest (which is a good policy, sometimes, I guess, if I have to) my pride makes me a demanding little brat. I whine and moan when God doesn't deliver me from "besetting sins" - whatever besetting is. I stomp my feet and pout when I find myself being lazy, inattentive to others, unkind, selfish, and a host of other ugly things that keep my monster slouching around.

I'm mad at God, wishing that he'd just get moving with me. When is he going to start working on project "Phil's Sanctification: When God discovers that Phil knows best." When is he going to get with the program? When is he going to check into this address:

Phil's Always Better Hotel
101 Phil's Cooler-Than-You Street
Philipton, VPL fls-da-bst
Planet Philip, Super-Duper-Fun Galaxy of Phil, Universe of the Almighty and Humble Phil

and start living according to Planet Philip's rules. Oh wait...

Usually my monster is so loud with his impatience that I can't hear the patient voice of God. God doesn't follow time-tables, charts, and certainly isn't coerced by a demanding attitude: (insert female, British, cockney accent here) "Little monster, am I going to have to put you in the naughty chair?" While he wants me to be transformed, he wants to submit my transformation to him. My guess is that he wants me to realize that my sanctification work really isn't mine, it's his and it comes with his timing.

After all, God's design is that my hope should be in him, not in his transformation of me. If I hope in him and draw close to him, recognizing the perfect standing I have before him, and the new nature that now rules in me, my attitude will be one of confident patience, not an unquiet mind. Maybe my monster of impatience will sit down for a good while and pay attention to the God who is making all things new, including me. And unfortunately for my monster, God's going to teach him how to wait. Pride and self-centeredness aren't good starting points for a life of faith and hope - a life lived in eager expectation of what God can and will do.

I can picture the Holy Spirit patiently explaining to me: "Wait Philip. Just Wait. Quiet your unquiet mind and wait. Ask your monster to take a load off and wait with you. Rest in your new identity, but more importantly trust in the author of your new identity. His timing is perfect. His sense of time is pretty good, since he created time after all. Your life is in his hands. He knows Mr. Monster: your sin, impatience and pride. He knows your inquietude-'tude,' and he asks you to wait."

"Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life" (Jude 21).

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