The driver behind me honked his horn as the light turned green. Apparently, the gray SUV at the intersection had not moved fast enough to suit him. Once in motion, and apparently in a hurry, he passed me and changed to the left lane. After a few feet, he drove back to the right. I wondered what he had to do that called for a rush. We both exited and turned into a shopping center parking lot. With plenty of  available spaces we parked at the same time. Where did impatience take him? Maybe one minute ahead of me. We all have things to do, people to see, and places to go. I’m not sure if impatience gets us there faster, nor if we make a pleasant appearance with our arrival.

One of my to-do projects last week, was cleaning out a filing cabinet.  I was overwhelmed with the endless pile of stuff I no longer found useful in the past eight years. Once I had my personal green light to purge and clean, I admit I mimicked the driver’s impatience when my progress wasn’t moving fast enough. That’s when I came across a reminder of the lesson my anonymous driver, (who by the way walked into the same supermarket as I) and my exasperation with my never-ending task, showed me.

Stuck in a file folder, was a card that read: Be patient. 

I let that thought-instruction-command-visual reminder-sink in and more carefully continued my task. That’s when I found an email dated May 7, 2004 (I told you I had a big job) from a former student. That year was my last semester teaching at a Christian college before I began a new season of writing. He described how he grew academically, but this is what caused me to tear up:

Coming into the school year, I was never a religious person. But being surrounded by the Word of God all the time at this college took its toll on me. More than anything, your class, because every day we prayed together and showed love toward one another as I have never seen that before. The love and trust shown in class made me want to learn more and more about Jesus and now I have Jesus in my heart, and I am happier than ever. I want to thank you personally for bringing me closer to God and I wish you the best in what you do after teaching. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for our class. Thank you and God bless you!

Let’s not do impatience, but become, and be patient.

Patience is a tall order. We want to rush and get to our destination or the next item on our to-do list. In our effort we fall short until we look at how, found in Galatians 5: 22-23 (ESV): “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. “

It’s not our doing but in the Spirit’s strength we can move to becoming and being patient.

Once I dried my eyes thinking of the opportunities God had given me in my teaching, I slowly finished cleaning out my cabinet. I reorganized and often stopped to reminisce, lingering at teaching notes and reading dated newsletters before I tossed papers in the trash. With patience and a trash bin half full, my project took two days. When I finished, I thought about the lessons I learned-the treasures I found and what patience gave me. I also thought about that impatient driver and wonder if he chose self-checkout to avoid a long line.

What about us? How many times do we choose self-checkout in life? Where has patience reminded you how glad you are you didn’t rush? Lots to discuss today. Please share with us.

Next time we’ll consider other accessories that contribute to pleasant drives and our appearance when we arrive at our destination.

Well into the first semester, here are 15 Timely Thoughts to Encourage College Freshmen

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