This carousel at the St. Louis zoo always makes me dizzy. Not unlike how I feel in life. Days rushing by like everything around this ride.
Colors and lights blurring past me like the years that have passed since the carousel’s first use in the 1904 World’s Fair.
Sometimes as the days, months and years pass I can catch a glimpse of what my aching heart longs for.
My loved ones.
The last months have felt like this.
I tried to take a picture of my children on the zoo train. The pictures capture them peaceful with the world rushing by them.
These are pictures I’ve taken over the past month. How I’ve longed during this time to slow down life to keep it from rushing away. And how I longed for that yesterday after my trip to the library.
I thought I could quickly run into the library to grab one book and go on with my day.
As I waited, I looked at the obituaries as usual. The 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inch slips of white paper printed in black ink sit on counters throughout town. You can find them in the library, pharmacy and grocery store. It is a way our small town finds out about each other’s life spans. Wondering if I’d see a familiar name, I slowed down for a moment to read.
My heart stopped. There she was. The name I had just moved that morning on my planner. Moved to next week because there wasn’t time. And now there will never be time.
Would patience have made a difference in this one?
With eyes welling up, I took the books and got in my car. I thought of the quote I had read earlier that day.
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty,
to carry within oneself the unanswered question,
lifting the heart to God about it
whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”
~ Elisabeth Elliot
I’ve been thinking about patience lately. Why is it painful to wait or act with patience. Because it can be both. Patience can be doing or it can be waiting.
It can feel painful to wait on God in the moments when I want to handle things my way. In the frustrating moments of parenting that require yielding and waiting instead of….acting in anger. In situations where I want to set things right but, to do so, would be sinful.
I also find it painful to love and serve when I’m in a hurry or feeling busy and weighed down with life. It requires patience to set aside the circumstances pressing in and to slow down and be intentional in order to truly love people.
I even found myself thinking just this morning that an old hymn was going too painstakingly slow. I caught myself feeling too anxious about the tempo to give myself over to worship and loving the Lord with all of my heart?
Why not slow down?
And maybe, maybe I wasn’t patient enough to see that slowing down to visit my old neighbor was worthy of my time.
I had to keep moving on from the library. There were children to take to a balloon race. We got there when the teams were supposed to be filling the balloons but we waited for an hour or more. Another chance for patience. I looked at my dad’s watch and then movement on the field began. Men and women tugged and pulled with all of their weight to move balloons or to keep them from moving. I couldn’t tell. I thought of me and my desire to slow this life down. That is what it feels like sometimes. Using all of me to keep this life from flying away. Or am I actually using all of my strength to keep things moving? I can’t tell.
And in the midst of trying to slow this all down, there is the desire for patience.
Waiting or acting in patience, it makes me feel as if something inside me is tearing away. Perhaps it truly is a dying to myself. I’ve always wondered why but this week that above quote gave me a glimpse into why. Waiting on God requires a willlingness to bear. Bear uncertainty. Bear a change in my own way, my own plans. It requires a willingness to carry a burden. It requires some mental ascent to God that He is in control, not me. It takes mind work, heart work and, sometimes, physical work.
I was told, “It’s OK…you loved her when you had the chance. She knew you cared.” I want to be painfully honest with myself, though.
Every week is busy so how and when do I get to the point of laying it all down and doing what this one life is really all about?
Patience, love, self-control…all fruit of the Spirit. I could just say that the Spirit wasn’t moving. Or…I didn’t love another when I could’ve or should’ve and confess that and be done with it. But I also want to process this so that I grow from here if needed.
Should we ever stop growing in Christ?
In order for the fruit to be produced, I must yield to the Spirit. I must cooperate. And perhaps, by being too busy, I close myself off to some of the live-giving fruit.
I’m processing today whether or not what I’m busy with is truly what God wants me to be busy with.
I don’t have a solution yet to the busyness challenge. I just know some truths.
That the Lord provides the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galations 5:22-24
That I am a new creation with new desires. The desire to slow down in order to love others well is a good and godly one.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” -2 Corinthians 5:17
He works in me powerfully as I yield to Him.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” -Philippians 2:12-13
I trust that the Lord will continue to work in my heart to make my priorities His. I trust in His grace to cover all that I do that I shouldn’t and all that I don’t do that I should. I trust that when I see sin or lacking on my part, His perfection is all the more beautiful. And I trust that He can enable me to do all that He calls me to do to fulfill His good purpose.
I write this as a tribute to the one I didn’t make time to visit in the end. I’m glad I made time in the past. I was blessed when I yielded to the nudges of the Spirit to stop by with two busy little ones to let them crawl around the pond and feed the fish while we talked. I’m glad I took time at one time to know her and she me. I’m thankful for the meals together and the gifts she gave. I learned that not everyone who has received much sadness and loss in life ends up bitter. That one can get through life with patience not only in the busy times but also the slow and painful times. In fact, some end up with a special twinkle in their eyes and a smile for everyone else. After losing all who she cared most about, she was still able to love others well.
Once, upon returning from a scary trip to the hospital, we discussed death. I asked her THE question. The question I had learned to ask in Evangelism Explosion training. I asked her how she would’ve responded if she would’ve died and God asked her, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” I was blessed to hear her say, “I guess it wasn’t because of anything I did.” Then she gave me a smile with a twinkle in her eye.
And I guess as I remember my friend, I should remember that the same holds true for me and for all of us in Christ. Jesus IS perfect. Perfectly patient and loving. In the end, it won’t be about how perfect I was, but about how perfect He was and that I trusted in that.
Linking up with these ladies this week: