We all have things that we’re waiting on: waiting for a dream to come to pass, waiting for health to improve, waiting to meet the right person. When it’s taken longer than the amount thought, it’s easy to get discouraged and think that it’s not meant to be. But David said in Psalm 37:34, “Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act. Travel steadily along his path. God will honor you to inherit the land”. Just because it hasn’t happened yet does it mean God’s work is done with you.
Give yourself more time to grow into what you see for yourself. Give the Lord more leeway to show you what you believe could be yours, or something better, or unexpected paths and blessing you didn’t know were going to be yours.
Patience is more than a virtue. It’s a path. Patience is a path. Patience is more than a path, too. It’s a practice, a way of life. Staying steady is faith in action. We don’t want to be up one day and down two days. The tortoise beats the hare in Aesop’s world and the real world.
Too often we settle for a first victory. Too often we get crushed by an early defeat. It’s not that easy to be given one blessing after another, to be chosen as the best in this or that, to have an easy time walking through whatever door is opened to you. It is at the time, but that’s not the finish line. Too many people walk through a couple of doors opened for them, but when they find start to find doors have turned into walls, they don’t have what it takes to keep feeling around until a doorknob is found and turned.
There are folks who bump into walls, get bruised, maybe even watch out the window others making their way through door after door, getting ahead of them, but they’re still back close to the starting line and not going anywhere fast. That makes you resilient or it makes you retire. Stay steady. Not all surfaces are walls. There are doorknobs to turn and doorways to walk through.
So, our daughter Elise has practiced soccer a lot for the last five years. She’s 15. But there have been a lot more walls than doors for her. She’s been injured about half this time. She’s been the smallest player or the second to smallest on several of her teams; this coming season, her sixth, she will move to her sixth team—six years with six teams. That’s unheard of. Elise has bumped into so many walls so many times, from injuries to lack of size and speed to lack of playing time to moving again and again that she could be forgiven believing it’s all and only walls out there for her. But she’s patient. She has a many year plan for soccer and her. She’s a tortoise with two killer
soccer feet and a great first touch. So now, she’s the tallest and one of the two biggest girls on this new team. The team is also a member of one of the two top national leagues girls can compete in. She’s also been given the starting position that she wants to play. Elise stayed steady and good things are starting to happen. Now if we can only make sure she stops getting injured!
There’s power in doing the right thing consistently. You don’t work hard for a month and then slack off the next month; you’re consistently excellent. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:28, “We should always be abounding in the work of the Lord”. What can you say about yourself that’s always? Are you always worried? Always late? Always hot tempered? Why don’t you change those always? If you’re consistent in the wrong areas, it will keep you running into walls, not getting what can be and should be your path. The Lord wants to work good things for you but it may involve a longer path to get there. God’s ways aren’t shortcut ways. Take the Lord with you on your journey. If it’s taking you through locales and situations you think are beneath or too hard, hang in there. Hold onto your faith.
This is what David did. At 17 years old he was out in the shepherd’s fields taking care of his father sheep’s, just minding his own business, when he was called to come home. The prophet Samuel chose him out of his seven brothers to become the next king of Israel. But did David go to his bedroom, take out his suitcase from underneath his bed, and start throwing clothes into it? Of course not. He didn’t wish his brothers good lives, kiss his dad and mom goodbye, bend over to pet his dog goodbye. He didn’t open the front door, take two lefts and a right, stride down the road that led to the king’s palace. He never got a royal robe on him. He probably went out the back door like he always did, his dog in tow, and headed back out to look after his sheep. If you want to read about being a tortoise, if you want to get a good look at what it looks like to have one door open and two closed, if you want to comprehend the meaning and power of patience, then keep reading David’s story. Take it to heart. Learn from an expert in loving the Lord even when the Lord doesn’t make things easy.
It’s easy to follow God when you’re hearing something loud and clear; when you have clear direction and things are going your way. But how do you respond when God is silent, and the silence is deafening? You’re doing the right thing, but it’s not improving. You’re being your best, but doors aren’t opening. Months have gone by, maybe years, and you don’t hear anything. Keep doing the last thing God told you to do, the last good thing you did. Stay steady, keep being faithful.
The truth is David wasn’t ready to lead anyone. Sheep, sure; a faithful dog, definitely. But being a king, leading other adults, and a people, that would take time; it would take crises and challenges to see whether he could handle himself and others well. It would take growing and changing and improving and adapting. It would take mistakes, errors, wrongs. It would take patience and passion with purpose. David grew up and he grew inward. He had to because he had to face a lot of stuff, perhaps more than we face, but no wall feels good to bump into.
When you seek God’s blessings, no matter who tries to stop you, no matter how big the giants are, no matter how unfair it is or how long it’s been, if you stay steady, stay patient, not bitter because people did you wrong, not giving up because it’s taken a long time, not losing faith too much when you’re not feeling it, then what’s coming for you can’t be stopped. The path you keep walking leads to where it’s destined to lead. God’s hand does not fail to provide. Let us keep doing good until we find the path open before us, until the fruits of our faith drop like ripened grapes. What the Lord has promised, can’t be taken away. Walk in the power of God’s direction and your patience will be rewarded.
Month after month David kept taking care of his father’s sheep, fighting off wild animals, making sure they were fed and protected. David could’ve slacked off, taking the easy way out. Nobody was watching him in the shepherd’s fields. But David understood that you have to be your best even when you don’t get rewarded. We need to thank God even when the path isn’t easy; even when there are more walls than doors.
David’s dad hadn’t invited him into the house when Samuel first came, but David didn’t get bitter; he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He shook it off and kept steady. His brothers made fun of him when he took their lunch to them at the battlefield; they tried to make him feel small. But David didn’t take the bait, he walked away. After David defeated Goliath, king Saul was jealous and tried to kill David, chase him and then his men through the desert and over mountains for years. It was unfair, but David didn’t try to get revenge. He could have killed Saul, but he wouldn’t do it. He wasn’t impatient. He kept to the good, keeping his faith and to his path. Thirteen years after David was anointed king, Saul was killed in a battle, and David became king.
The only thing that’s holding some people back is consistency. What would happen if you would consistently get to work on time, consistently treat your spouse with respect, consistently exercise, consistently put God first place, steadily find the good in others, steadily learn the lessons life is
teaching you, steadily keep joy in your heart and spirit? Many of you have been doing this. You steadily make decisions that follow what’s best; you sacrifice to raise your children; put on hold what you want to do; you stay faithful in your marriage that’s difficult; you’ve done your best at that job, going the extra mile. You’ve done the right thing. The Lord rewards those who stay steady.
Now do your part and start moving forward in faith: Not bitter over disappointments, not discouraged over what didn’t work out, not upset because it’s taken longer, there were delays and detours, nothing can stop you. If you keep steady, being faithful when nobody is noticing, doing the right thing when it’s uncomfortable, not complaining because you don’t see things changing, then you’re going to win races.
Don’t get discouraged by what’s not changing, don’t slack off because it hasn’t happened yet. Keep doing the right thing consistently. God has not forgotten about you. The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in you. Now, dig your heels in, stay steady. Provoke yourself to faithfulness. Challenge yourself to rise to challenges. God’s will makes a way to those who stay steady on the path.
Can the church say Amen?