Thursday, February 20, 2014

Patience with Joy (and stepping WAY outside my comfort zone!)

I do a Bible study each week with Community Bible Study and I am a children's teacher so that means I do my study on Wednesdays and on Thursdays I spend my morning with the youth. As part of our Wednesday mornings, everyone is asked to sign up for a week and prepare a devotional around a specific theme.  This year our theme was prayer. We were to read through some prayers in the Bible and prepare something to share.

I have spent quite a few years in this study (not this specific class but with CBS in general) and in the past I always avoided giving my devotion. I would "forget" to sign up or sign up for a day I knew a conflict would arise. I was terrified to share a teeny tiny 3-5 minute devotion when I had no problem getting in front of a group of kids and speaking. I didn't want the grown ups to judge me.

Since this year has been about forcing myself out of my comfort zone. I did it. And it was great. Or my group of 30 some women loved it and told me it was great (yay God for giving me the right words to speak...because I literally threw it together the morning I read it.) And then a month later I was approached about sharing this in an opening on a Thursday morning potentially in front of hundreds of women. Ummm....excuse me?

Luckily, leading up to today, we were traveling and crazy busy. I had no time to get nervous. I was even okay this morning, until I was walking up the steps to the podium (taking deep cleansing breaths on the way.) But,  I did it. Slightly awkwardly towards the end as my voice got a little shaky, I lost my place and kind of just ended.  What are you going to do? It is what it is. So here is what I shared this morning.

Colossians 1: 9-12

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks[a] to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

For endurance and patience with joy.

And God loves to test my patience.

I shared with the teens over the course of studying Esther that I am not a patient person. I actually had to take a personality assessment when I worked for American Eagle (on the retail side) and scored lowest in patience….which for them was great. I had a high sense of urgency. I would get things done now because waiting around for stuff made me (and still makes me) a little bit (okay a whole lot of) crazy.

 Now I don’t work retail anymore and haven’t for some years but that high sense of urgency hasn’t left me. I want things to happen now. I want to make a plan and carry it out…no time to waste. How productive can I be….how much can I squeeze into a day? If it was feasible I would schedule every hour so that efficiency was maximized. I feel the need to accomplish the things on my to do list and add more to my plate all the time. I need to be important. I need to be needed. I need everyone to know they can count on me to get it done. (And that's a whole other work in progress.)

But God wants me to be patient. And not just patient….patient with joy.

And the irony here is that I married a man whose job is pretty dependent on the weather and what is available. John works for a company that paints bridges. And bridges don’t move. You have to go to them. And we never know where the next job will be…or what state will vote to have it’s funds distributed so that bridge repair and maintenance gets a cut of it. (hint Pennsylvania doesn’t do this often…..) And then we talk about what is available. (and I don’t get to make a plan yet…at least out loud.) And then there are pre-bid meetings. (and no…I don’t get to make a plan yet.) And then there is the bidding process (no plan) and then there is the matter of awarding the job to someone. And even if we don’t get the job, I don’t get to make a plan yet. Because contractors default all the time. Or challenge the bidding process. So a lot of times it gets awarded to the second or third bidder…’s a waiting game.

 Patient with joy.

And then….even when we get the job and seems like we are ready to figure out a plan for my life and how we are going to juggle this (moving, staying – some sort of schedule for the year) They go into contract negotiations with the state and the start date gets pushed back.

I usually don’t get to make a plan until a week or two before (and that’s if I am lucky….) because his job often depends on the weather as well.

And even once we have the job, I never really know when he is coming home for the “winter off season” and when he is leaving again because of the weather. He came home exceptionally late this year and just left again (typically he doesn’t leave until mid-March) because unlike here, the weather there is unseasonably warm.

And we are entering the season of bidding new jobs and trying to figure out what may happen in the next year or two.

God still wants me to be patient and patient with joy.

So even though I do not know what the next few months will bring….in reality none of us do. Things happen all the time that can uproot us…jobs are lost, family members are lost, we have to move, or start over in something….change happens. It is an inevitable part of growth and life.

I just have the a little sneak peek over the next hill…the knowledge that it’s definitely coming for us sooner than it does for many others and anticipation that comes with it. And with that anticipation I have to remember to be patient with joy. Enjoy the moments we have in the place that we are. Live in that moment because I don’t know where we will be going next.

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