Patience for the Journey

patience for the journeySince I teach both Composition I and II at our local community college, along with occasionally teaching a remedial composition course, I see the progression of learning that occurs in my students.  I see their struggle with grammar issues (some of which stem from elementary school), and I watch them grow in their abilities to write longer, more organized, and hopefully, thoughtful essays.  This is what I “get” from my job, besides the obvious (albeit small) paycheck – the joy of watching them grow.

I’ve been thinking about how this joy of participating in my students’ academic journeys parallels participating in others’ spiritual journeys.  While I can be ever patient with a student who cannot see a sentence fragment to save his or her neck, I struggle to be patient with those who, for whatever reason, do not see the loving acceptance of the Father, Son, and Spirit for all humanity.  It seems counterintuitive to me to believe that a God who has given us so many good and wonderful gifts would be willing to allow some to be lost forever, especially when scripture does say that he is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9 NIV).  This repentance spoken of is a changing of the mind toward God, recognizing his love is never wavering and always present.

This repentance, or rethinking about God’s nature and character, is part of our spiritual journeys that will continue throughout our lives.   God doesn’t grow impatient with us as we try to live our lives in the fullness of understanding his love for all.  He isn’t put off when we have doubts or when we just don’t seem to grasp the simple truth of his willingness not to go on without us, as exhibited by the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Our journey of repentance is never finished as long as we are human beings, and it could even be compared to an evolutionary process.

This reminds me of a story I heard about an encounter between a spiritual teacher and a shepherd boy.  It happened that this spiritual teacher overheard a shepherd boy praying to God and saying, “Oh, Lord, you have been so good to me that if you were here with me right now, I would feed you the best grass in the field.  I would cover you with my own blanket, and let you sleep with your head on my lap.”

The spiritual teacher thought this prayer was amusing, and he said to the shepherd boy, “Don’t you see how you are limiting the Unlimited God, comparing him to a sheep that you would care for?”  At this, the boy was discouraged and even fearful because he thought he had dishonored God by his prayer.

Immediately, though, the Holy Spirit whispered to the teacher, “This is not pleasing because you are encouraging the feeling of separation between man and God.  We called you to promote unity, so you must speak to everyone according to his or her particular place in the journey.”

I don’t know about you, but I am convicted by this simple story.  Speaking to others about spiritual truths based on where they are at in their own spiritual journey ispatience sign similar to my efforts teaching composition to students, not expecting them to immediately understand and apply specific concepts, but instead, watching for and enjoying the growth  by participating in that process.  By adopting the patient attitude of the Father, Son, and Spirit, we can participate in this process of growth, encouraging unity instead of separation.

           ~ by Nan Kuhlman

 

6 comments so far

  1. Bob Vischer (pastor) on

    How difficult to know how far along my congregants are in their journey. Many simply do not know how to communicate this amazing truth.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Bob,

      I guess my takeaway is that how far they are really doesn’t matter. While we (in our Western way of thinking) are always desiring to see progress for our efforts, our real joy comes from participating in the journey and recognizing that none of us are alone – ever.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Nan

  2. Jerome on

    Great post, Nan! You reminded me of the illustration of the schoolboy learning Greek grammar in CS Lewis’ “The Weight of Glory.” God knows the good he has in store for us all and he is Patient (Thank God!) with us as he guides us along life’s path.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Jerome,

      I’d forgotten about that C.S. Lewis analogy – thanks for reminding me!

      Nan

  3. Walt on

    Always look forward to your posts. And if we expect God to be patient with ourselves, we need to afford the same to others. In my small group discussion, part of my inspiration is seeing and participating, when invited, in their own journeys toward discovery.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Walt,

      I’m glad to hear that you’re inspired by participating in your small group members’ journeys. Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder that, since repentance is a lifelong process, we ALL need patience, especially from God.

      Nan


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