Sometimes I find myself in a rush, desperately trying to accomplish as much as possible, as efficiently as possible. While high energy and my naturally fast pace fit well in today’s American culture, this “productive” lifestyle has a downside that took years for me to realize: distance from God.
Patience usually requires cultivation, because few of us are born patient. Witness any infant: instantly demanding when the slightest discomfort arises. Yet experiencing the peace that comes with patience stirred my own awareness and desire toward becoming more patient. This involved no small amount of personal surrender, because it was obvious that alone I was incapable of mastering this virtue. I needed God’s help.
When considering the concept of patience, the words “slow,” “calm,” and “accepting” quickly come to mind. I am drawn to consider more deeply because clearly there’s more—an underlying aspect of patience that these immediate words miss entirely. Ultimately, God is at the root of patience, so this deeper aspect must be revealed slowly, as I’m capable of understanding. Patience is based on deep trust in God. More than simply a willful or virtuous act, patience is a posture of heart that embraces the conviction that God’s timing is far more important than my own. As Teilhard de Chardin reminds us: “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.” When I trust God’s perfect timing, my inner peace remains intact, even when confronted with delays or a slow pace of action or progress. I remember that God is in control, and God knows what he’s doing.
At last, I’ve come to realize that God’s “slow work” is where his best masterpieces lie, for time is often an ally where creation is concerned. The world in all its magnificence surely takes time for my human brain to behold, so naturally God reveals its intricacies slowly. God invites me to embrace this virtue of patience, giving me numerous opportunities to practice it. When I follow God’s lead, at God’s pace, the payoff is huge: experiencing God’s ever-deepening nearness.