(Re-posted from my former blog The Narrow Road September 20, 2010.)
Reading the first few verses in James 1 we see that patience is more than just a basic fruit of the Spirit. In fact, patience is key to our perfection and completion as men and women indwelt by Jesus Christ Himself.
Why is it that our Lord so highlights the virtue of patience as a significant key to our perfection? And can we actually walk in this supernatural patience in a culture that aids and abets being driven by continual time pressures? How can we walk in sync with the Godhead and heaven above and experience the higher or mystical plane noted in Romans 6? [J.B. Phillips’ translation speaks of “rising to life on a new plane altogether.”]
First, let’s define patience. Merriam-Webster puts it this way: to be patient is to bear pains or trials calmly or without complaint. It is to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain. A patient man is not hasty or impetuous. He is steadfast despite opposition, difficulty, or adversity. And he is very willing to bear things.
James 1:2-4 elucidates just where operating in the fullness of patience will take us. From the King James: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” J.B. Phillips rightly notes that the trials and temptations are God’s tests designed to school us in patience: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will become men of mature character with the right sort of independence.” By independence I believe Phillips means freedom in the inner man. Finally, let’s include the conversational Living Bible with its helpful imagery: “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
Second, let’s take a look at our need for patience. I quote Deanna Deering’s prophetic piece from Masterpiece of the Wilderness published in 2003. The Lord is speaking:
“You must not allow yourself to be in a rush. There is no way to be led by the Spirit when you are in a hurry. Walk, don’t run, in the Spirit. You say, ‘There is much that needs to be done, and these are real responsibilities.’ But there is only one thing that matters. By doing this ‘one thing,’ you will accomplish more than you ever could have done by doing the ‘many things’ first. But not to the visible eye, of course; the results are first received in the spiritual realm, then revealed in the natural.”
“Without Me and My Spirit, you cannot possibly carry out my commands. I have many plans for you, but you can only walk in them through your spirit. Taking time to seek Me brings your flesh into obedience, for it inherently desires quick results. Your outer man has taken many years to be formed. When you set out to seek Me, your outer man will be pressed into submission to My Spirit. Such a process takes time, and it can be very excruciating.”
“That is why many will opt for busyness and allow the visible results to deceive them. My loved one, do not allow yourself to be deceived! Wide is the door through which many will travel. I’m coaxing you. Allow Me to have all of you, so I can take you through the narrow door.”
God ultimately wants us to trust Him. Thus, He purposefully sets up situations in our lives to force us to wait and to train us when the timing of things is not going the way we think it should according to our natural understanding and soulish perceptions. The Lord is always working to establish what is in fact the case–that He is Sovereign over our histories. And that He is an All-wise Father of love.
In His love He is beckoning us to come into His rest–something we can experience when we let Him have full control. In such abandonment, we will experience Him as the Shepherd of Psalm 23 Who leads us beside waters of rest. In other words, by staying within His leading we will be drinking of the Spirit. How delicious this is! The Recovery Bible notes say regarding 1 Corinthians 12:13, “we were all given to drink one Spirit,” that to drink the Spirit is to take the Spirit in and allow Him to saturate our very beings.
In Hebrews, the theology of God’s great gift of rest is developed. When we are positioned in His rest–and functioning in patience is necessary for this–we co-labor with Him, but we do not work in the sense of sweaty, independent self-effort. We enter in to what He Who is outside of time has already accomplished through the cross.
Another picture of a restful walk with Jesus that again necessitates the relinquishing of control is found in Matthew 11:28-30. God created us to function yoked with the Lord. When we let Him steer our lives, we find the peace promised in Him. (See John 14:27.) The passage voices His words, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” In other words, “stay in My timing, die to impatience, and you will experience Me charting the course, you flowing in My Spirit, Me sharing My thoughts with you.”
Patience is crucial to experiencing John 15 realities, too. John 15 is about abiding in or maintaining connection with Jesus, the True Vine. Verse 4 and verse 5 sum up the chapter well: “Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.” The flesh nature, wanting its own way, tends to pull apart from dependence on the Lord. In the giving up of hastiness and impatience, we can lean on (into) our Savior, acknowledging our need for Him and the coursing life of the Holy Spirit. In fact, to abide actually means to wait for, to await, to bear patiently, to remain stable or fixed in a particular state, to continue, and to stay.
Supernatural patience enables us, by virtue of keeping us in God’s timing, to learn to walk as Jesus walked. The Lord said of Himself in John 5, “The Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing, and in the same way. For the Father loves the Son, and tells Him everything He is doing.” Jesus walked by waiting on the Father. In so doing, He remained in the life-flow of the Father’s love. And He walked in what we call the revelatory realm experiencing the Father’s continual communications. In such relating, He was comforted as He walked among men. Succored. Jesus was never alone. The Lord Jesus is the Pattern Son, the first born of those of us He calls brothers. In staying in His timing, we will experience the same rich state of encounter with the Godhead.
Now that we see the promise inherent in becoming men and women of great patience, how do we practically overcome natures given to just the opposite? I invite you to post any helpful comments re: overcoming carnal impatience. What I have learned follows.
2 Peter 1:4 tells us that it is through His precious and exceedingly great promises that we escape moral decay which comes from covetousness (lust and greed) and actually become sharers (partakers) of the Divine Nature. And James 1:21 instructs us to “lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.” I knew that to conquer impatience, being very prone that way, I would have to graft into my being the promises and continually eat of them. I wrote out the verses on patience; and whenever, in my early years as a follower of Jesus, I found myself failing the Creator’s tests on patience, I fed on these life-giving passages. I developed an arsenal in my inner man to deal with my flesh, the worldlings around me, and the buffetings of enemy spirits. By having promises stored in my heart such as Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” and Luke 21:19, “In your patience, possess ye your souls,” and others; I was able to tap the nature of God consistently though not altogether perfectly when situations called for the fruit of patience. Right at the threshold of thought, I found that I could choose to think and act according to these stored promises. [As I have grown in walking out union with the Lord, a more and ever more perfect or mature walk of patience has unfolded.]
Also, I have cooperated with His circumcision of my heart–the cutting away of my flesh nature. [See Romans 2:29.] When impatience surfaces from time to time, I beseech the Lord to uproot this bad fruit including its roots. I literally ask Him to cut out these outgrowths from my flesh nature. Over time, I have found this method effectual in eradicating the traits that are foreign to His likeness.
As I have grown up, the concept of union with the Lord and being centered in the Christ Who indwells me has become a powerful spiritual reality enabling me to drink more continually of the living water within. Thus, I have learned to tap patience from the Spirit within as well as the Word engrafted into my heart. Studying those saints who pursued the inward way has helped me navigate my steps as I “dwell with the Lord as I walk among men.” I allow myself to be directed by the Lord from within rather than be unduly moved by the circumstances without. Thus, I find the higher realm–the walk in the Spirit. [See Romans 8.]
In Galatians 5:25, Paul writes, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step withthe Spirit.” This admonishment we find in the very chapter comparing the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. It is patience that positions us to live by the Spirit and also to pace ourselves or keep in step with Him. And thereby we experience both His life and His leading. It is patience that keeps us in sync with the Godhead. In sync with our Maker, we realize Divine appointments, kairos occurrences, even destiny itself.
Yielding in patience to His control and His timing brings us out of a natural or carnal existence into the spiritual–the mystical plane we are meant to know.
Postscript: If you would like a copy of my doc, “Ammo in the War Against Drivenness,” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.