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Not Yet

Spiritual Training Cycle: Submission (wk. 10/13)

The double under. For the uninitiated, it’s a simple physical task – jump the body off the ground and pass a rope underneath your body twice while suspended in air. For me, it’s perhaps the most complex physical task I’ve pursued. And pursuit is the right word. Because double unders are elusive. I can’t tell you how many times I tried and failed. How many YouTube videos I watched. How many different jump ropes I tried (surely it must be the rope and not me). A few years into my adventure for double under conquest, I remember attempting a few after class – with no success. My coach walked by, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "not yet.”

Not yet. Disappointing and comforting all wrapped into one. And that’s the tension athletes feel when they embark on the development of a new skill. Skills rarely appear overnight. Instead, they take time. With good coaching and consistent practice, “not yet” becomes another way of saying, “trust the process.”

We must also learn to trust the process in developing the spiritual skill of patience. Patience is the space where faith becomes foundational. It’s the space where God’s rhythm becomes our rhythm. It’s where God prepares us. But patience is hard. When you’re waiting on the test results, or the annual performance review, or for your friend to apologize, “not yet” is not comforting at all. Until you realize that patience is also a process.

Like the double under, you don’t just instantly have patience. It must be developed. And to become a virtuoso in patience, such that others marvel at how easy you make it look, you must be exposed to situations that test your patience. And you must keep the proper perspective about them.

The book of James is a letter to people who are suffering. They are being persecuted for their faith, they are questioning why God would allow them to suffer, and some are considering abandoning their faith in Jesus altogether. James tells his readers to be patient – easier said than done. Then he gives examples of patient people. Farmers are patient. They must wait for the rains and for the land to produce a harvest. The prophets were patient. A man named Job was patient. Job persevered through some really difficult things, and when we read his story, we realize patience is the process where we develop the character of God.

You want to know how much you love someone? Wait on them. I don’t mean take care of them. I mean wait in your car for what seems like an eternity for your teenage children who were told to get ready an hour ago but somehow can’t get it together. What you say when they open the door will reveal a lot about you. Will you greet them with compassion and mercy or anger and frustration? That’s patience revealing your character.

Mercy. Compassion. Empathy. Love. This is what patience has the potential to produce in our lives. The question is will we trust the process? So, whatever you’re praying for; Whatever you’re asking God to do right now; Whatever you’ve asked Him to do already like a million times; Be patient. God’s greatest answer for you may simply be, “not yet.”

Questions for Reflection:

What kind of waiting frustrates you the most? (i.e., waiting in line, waiting for others, waiting for your food, etc.)

What part of God’s character is patience developing in you?

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