Does Patience Drive Your Car? Biblical Garden of Love Part 1B
Patience is one of those virtues I often lack. Holidays, house guests, events, warm weather (or cooler weather depending on the season), birthdays, etc… you name it! I impatiently await them all.
Patience with people… that’s another story. Sometimes I am patient, but more often than I’d like to admit, I’m not. We have all experienced the familiar ruffling of feathers that goes on inside of us…
…that rising of your chest as you’re holding your breath to keep from bursting,
…that clenching of your fists or fingers around an object,
…that slight change of tone or pitch of your voice or maybe drastic change if you’re already losing your temper.
It’s hard to be patient. When things are going well and going the way we want them to, patience is easier. When your child or your coworker is treating you with respect, it’s easier to be patient. When your boss or your best friend is being nice to you, it’s easy being patient. When your husband is loving you the way he’s supposed to, patience is a piece of cake.
But when someone cuts you off in traffic, your child talks back to you, your best friend blows you off, you are treated unfairly at work, your feelings aren’t considered in your marriage (or insert other relationship), when your boss tells you that you’re not doing it right… yet again… patience kind of flies out the window and your impatience smacks into the other person’s windshield. If you really lose it, you go digging up all those beautifully planted flowers of patience, throwing caution to the wind, forgetting how ‘ugly’ the Biblical garden of love looks like without them.
Slam on the brakes! Driving head-long into another person because they hurt your feelings, they forgot about you, they criticized or belittled you, they disrespected you, or even tried to walk all over you isn’t going to solve the problem. Frankly, it’ll make it worse. Take a step back. Ruining your garden by pulling up all those carefully planted sprouts of love isn’t going to make you feel better. In fact, you’ll feel worse.
Being impatient is like driving down a road in the middle of a storm and suddenly realizing that there’s a tree down in front of you: You can continue to litter the road with tree branches of impetuous irritability or you can take a step back and breathe. Let the rain fall if it needs to, but adding to the storm with your own fury will only cause more branches to fall and flowers to be destroyed.
What happens when we’re impatient?
What’s really going on here? There’s always a root beneath the impatience – a deep, ugly root. We are frustrated. Our plans have been disrupted. Someone isn’t keeping up with status quo or following through with what they said they would. We are angry. We’ve been hurt. We’ve been wronged. We have malice in our hearts. They sure were wrong. What they did was despicable. We will make them pay.
We resort to complaining and grumbling when we’re impatient.
Why are they taking so long? Why didn’t they listen to me when I was trying to explain or rationalize? Why didn’t they treat me with the respect I deserved? They…they…they. Notice it’s finger-pointing. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they began complaining because they didn’t have food like they did in Egypt. (Numbers 11:4-6) When the spies returned from Canaan, hopeless because they were afraid to fight the Canaanites because of their might, the Israelites complained and griped, wanting to elect a new leader to take them back to Egypt (Numbers 14:1-4). They weren’t patiently awaiting the wisdom of their human leader, Moses to reassure them. They weren’t waiting on the Lord patiently to reveal His plan for His people as He had promised them ‘the land flowing with milk and honey.’ How quickly they forgot the horrors of being enslaved by the Egyptians! Did they really distrust Moses as God’s elected leader? Did they really distrust that the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would deliver on His promise?
Sounds like foolishness, but isn’t this what we do sometimes? We point the finger and blame others for our problems. We distrust God’s chosen leadership over us – our husbands. Ephesians 5:23 says, “For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church.” Verse 22 right before that says, “Wives submit to your husbands.” Pretty clear, right? Complaining to our friends, our siblings, our parents, or our co-workers that our husbands aren’t doing their jobs, that they’ve failed us, that their guidance is really ‘misguided’ from our point of view isn’t submitting to their leadership, to God’s appointed leader in your life.
The Bible calls complaining ‘wickedness.’ In Numbers 14:27 the Lord says, “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.” And they were severely punished. All Israelites over the age of 20, except Joshua and Caleb would die in the wilderness before seeing the Promised Land. James 5:9 says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged…”
We lash out at others when we’re impatient.
When someone cuts you off in traffic, does honking your horn and cursing them out really coming from a heart full of compassion? When your boss passes you over again for a promotion, is complaining about her to your coworkers in the break-room over coffee or pointing out all her flaws to your friends over margaritas at the bar after work coming from a heart full of patience? When your husband pushes all your buttons and teases you again after you’ve told him time and time again to stop, is blowing up at him and calling him names coming from a heart full of respect and love?
In all three scenarios, these reactions are coming from a heart full of frustration and anger. Psalm 37:8 warns, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath – it leads only to evil.” Proverbs 30:33 states, ” For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Kind of a gruesome analogy, but evil, strife… are those things you want in your marriage? in your relationships? in your heart?
Ephesians 4:31 tells us to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice,” and Colossians 3:8 says something similar: “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” These things are not godly.
We lack trust in God and understanding of God when we’re impatient.
Like the Israelites wandering about the wilderness, we are blinded by our own agendas, by our own pain, by our own misery when we’re impatient. A group of disciples and Jesus boarded a boat and went out to sea. While they were out, a storm came up – fierce, intense, crazy. The disciples, fearful for their lives, impatiently awoke Jesus who had been sleeping down below and begged Him to save them. I always wondered what would have happened if the disciples had waited on the Lord. Would He have saved them sooner? But instead, they didn’t. Jesus rebukes them calling them faithless and asks why they are so fearful. Then He speaks to the wind and the waves and all is calm again. (Matthew8:23-27)
When storms rise up in our life and threaten the safety of our boat, it’s tempting to cry out to God and ask Him why He isn’t fixing the problem now. In some cases when the winds and the waves rock our ship of life, we might be tempted to take over and try and steer things ourselves.
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” God calls us to trust in Him with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding. By acknowledging Him in all our ways, He will direct our path. (Proverbs 3:5-6) He’ll steer our ship. He’ll be in the drivers seat. He’s got everything under control.
There’s a beautiful Casting Crowns song that I love called Praise You in This Storm. The song begins with the lines: “I was sure by now/ God You would have reached down/And wiped our tears away/Stepped in and saved the day/ But once again I say ‘Amen’ and it’s still raining.”
God’s plans are not our own. When we’re impatient, we miss the beauty, wisdom, and glory of God’s plans for our lives. a heart full of praise replaces a heart lacking faith.
Read the chorus:
And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
So What Does this Have to Do with the Garden of Love?
When we’re impatient with God, this tends to translate over into our relationships with others, particularly those who are closest to us, namely our spouses. Complaining to others about something your husband does or doesn’t do isn’t respecting him. Lashing out at your husband when he does something wrong because you can’t hold your temper isn’t loving him. Taking over something that should be your husband’s responsibility, grabbing the reins of your marriage out of his hands, shoving him out of the driver’s seat because you think you can do it better isn’t trusting him.
Grace isn’t an excuse to complain to your friends knowing you’ve been forgiven. Grace isn’t an excuse to blow up or flip out because we’ll be covered. Grace isn’t an excuse to try to do things your own way because God did give you a brain after all, right? Grace is always an reason to refrain from saying hurtful things, forgive as we’ve been forgiven, to take the high road and remain calm, and to let your husband make mistakes and learn from them without butting in impatiently.
Without love in a marriage, patience will falter. Without respect for your husband, patience will fail. Remember you have been created by God and you were chosen by God. Your husband is a unique creation, also chosen by the God of the universe, and he has been placed in an incredibly wonderful and difficult role in your world – your leader. And with the way we women act sometimes, it’s a hard job to have.
This doesn’t mean that you are a weak wallflower with no opinions of your own and no input in your marriage. The very fact that you are at his bedside means you’ve been given a megaphone for influence in your marriage. BUT… you also have been given a “backseat” spot in the vehicle of your marriage as opposed to a “behind the wheel” spot because God designed the man to be there to protect you, provide for you, and guide you.
When Adam and I go places, he always drives, and I don’t mind. I trust his driving skills, and I know he will do everything in his power to protect me and get me where I need to go, and that the car is ultimately in God’s hands. The same is true in the leader-follower aspect of our marriage. Even when I don’t understand what direction we’re going or why he’s doing what he’s doing, I still need to trust my husband in good faith that he knows what he’s doing and he has my best interest at heart.
I trust Adam’s decisions and wisdom because 1) he’s connected to our Father in heaven who’s watching out for us, 2) he has my best interests at heart and desires to protect me, and 3) he loves me and through his love, he gives me guidance, helping to shape my faith walk with the Lord and pointing me back to God. Now he’s not always perfect at it, but that’s why there’s grace. I could get impatient – gripe and moan, belittle and criticize, and/or try a hostile takeover of the wheel, but I must remember the power of God’s love and grace in my life.
Some of the best advice I ever received before getting married was this: Be continually gracious and forgiving toward your spouse’s sins – and be continually convicted of your own.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14
Allow patience to sprout up in your marriage in places where your husband will least expect it – in rocky or thirsty soil. Water the plants of patience in your garden with a heart convicted by the Word of God. Feed the flower of patience with fertilizer of love and respect. Allow patience to flourish in your marital garden of love.