I am not naturally a patient person. I’m a fast walker, a quick reader. It’s hard for me to take things slow. This is not always to my advantage, so I’m trying to find ways to practice patience. To see the benefit in sometimes taking the long route rather than the shortcut.
I made chocolate dipped strawberries for some girlfriends last weekend. I didn’t use the microwave, and I even added a white chocolate drizzle on top. I knew the slow, time-consuming process would drive me crazy, which is exactly why I did it.
I want my spiritual life to take on this attitude of slowness and patience. Instead of rushing through my bible reading, seeing how quickly I can zip through a chapter, I want to slow down and pay attention to what God might be saying. I want to create space for Him to work in my heart. It’s hard to do this when I’m counting pages and tracking verses.
What if I just focused on one word from the chapter? One phrase? One image? What if I stopped trying to “get somewhere” spiritually and instead let God do the working in me?
I really like what Henri Nouwen has written about this topic. It is shifting my perspective on how I see the time I spend in stillness and prayer:
“Prayer is being unbusy with God instead of being busy with other things. Prayer is primarily to do nothing useful or productive in the presence of God. To not be useful is to remind myself that if anything important or fruitful happens through prayer, it is God who achieves the result. So when I go into the day, I go with the conviction that God is the one who brings forth fruit in my work, and I do not have to act as though I am in control of things.”
Psalm 37:7 is a verse that has stood out to me as I learn to slow down, and let go of control:
“Be still in the presence of the Lord. Wait patiently for Him to act.” – Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
As I sit on my couch with some nice music playing, I imagine His hand reaching into my heart and fixing the broken pieces, rearranging some stuff, removing some other things. I whisper, “Lord, do what you need to do in me.”
It’s a little scary, yes. What is He going to find in there? Sometimes I like the way I’ve set things up on my own. What if what I have seems to be working for me? It’s hard to let someone else come in and change what I’ve done.
But if I trust that God loves me, wants what is best for me, and knows the desires of my heart even better than I do, then I will want to surrender to His hands. I will want to invite Him in and give Him the time to do what He needs to do.