Last Wednesday Deb and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch. We enjoyed our ‘usual’ – hot braised chicken and a cup of tea. When the fortune cookies arrived I switched them around so that the one nearest me would become Deb’s and vice versa. Here’s how they read. Deb’s: “your charm will bring you something wonderful soon”. Mine: “you must remain patient in order for good things to come your way”.
Deb’s charming and will get something wonderful? And I need to be patient? This was a little too close to the truth! We both laughed but Deb laughed a little too hard and said something like, “Boy that fortune cookie was made especially for you, ha, ha, ha, ha!” I immediately lost patience with the fortune cookie game – it was time to go!
Patience is a virtue that I’ve witnessed in others but rarely experienced myself. I tell myself that I don’t have time to be patient – that’s what impatient people do. Besides after lunch I had to rush out and get Deb something wonderful. She on the other hand has plenty of patience. Of course I would be patient too if my ‘charm’ alone could bring me untold treasure!
I’ve been thinking a lot about patience as we enter this season of Advent. For the next four Sundays we will be reminded to S L O W D O W N and be patient. We are expected to wait. We are told to be hopeful. Our salvation is (almost) at hand. But waiting alone is not enough. Being hopeful about the good things to come isn’t the complete answer either. Impatient people like me, try to “gird our loins” and tough it out so that we can get through these weeks of waiting. We prove our worth by being watchful and ready to embrace the impending joy of Christ’s coming.
But that misses the point. The beauty is the waiting. The joy is in embracing the longing. The peace comes when we surrender ourselves to God’s plan. True patience then is actively living in the present. It requires us to let go of our need to finish the game; win the race; get to the prize. The true joy of Advent is acceptance. Accepting our here and now; for better or worse. We live with the hope of better things to come but we must love and treasure what we have now if we are to truly be fulfilled in the future.
That’s a tall order for the impatient amongst us. But with God’s help and your prayers…
Lord, we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:7