He also knows that I'm onto Him.... "ohhohohoooo boy, am I onto what He is trying to do!"
(Think quick! What movie is this line from??)*
He throws little tests of my patience my way every so often, and I just give a little grin as I tell God (rather smugly) that I am going to prove Him wrong (as if I could prove God wrong... it's quite laughable) and show Him just how patient I can be...
... and I always end up falling short. Sometimes I last longer than my normal time span, but I almost always lose in the end and get rather frustrated with the person and/or situation, but mostly with myself.
Recently, He's been throwing the same trial my way over and over again. It involves a person with whom I do not see eye to eye on many things, and without going into much detail, I feel a continued lack of respect and courtesy towards what I believe and as a human being in general. Unfortunately, it is not possible to just remove this situation from my life right now, and so the continuous cycle of dealing with this has really started to weigh down on me. I pray about the situation, for patience, and for this person, but I still can't seem to shake it off and I end up letting my impatience and frustration get the best of me.
It was one of these more recent times that I received some very good advice to help me see it all in a different light. God is trying to make me more holy... He is giving me opportunity after opportunity to be saint-like, as we are all called to be.
The readings this past week were exactly along this line - a calling to be holy:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Great. I can totally succeed at this challenge...
But it did get me thinking. God has asked us to do many things... but He wouldn't ask us to do something that was impossible, and He especially wouldn't ask us to do something that He Himself wouldn't do first. One of the infinite number of reasons why "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) was so that He could teach us how to be more like Him.
So if God is calling me to be holy, to become a saint, through the latest tests of my patience, how did Jesus live this out?
I know that I will often get impatient in intellectual and academic conversations and settings, especially when I am teaching. Jesus was a teacher too, and he had to deal with those Pharisees on more than one occasion. The Pharisees knew the Law and Scripture backwards and forwards, yet they couldn't see that the fulfillment of both of these was standing right before their eyes! Yet, Jesus was patient with them. He continued to point out what was right in front of them over and over again. Even when he started to sound like a broken record, he didn't lose patience with them. This is the kind of patience I need to exude when I teach as well.
Back to the latest test on my patience, which involves the constant battle of trying to stand up for myself while also trying not be judgmental. When I am presented with this recurring situation, I have to pull out all the patience power in attempts to not completely give up and break down. Yet again, Jesus exemplifies what it means to have patience when he had to pull out all the stops in his death.
God could have come to this world in a time when His death would have been quick and painless - like the French Revolution. Dying by Madame Guillotine? Not so fun, but pretty fast (as long as the blade was sharp, of course). Instead, He chose to come during a time when He would suffer not only a painful death, but one that was long and drawn out. A death that would take hours as his skin was torn to shreds, as he was forced to carry a tree for miles, as he was nailed to the cross and crowned with piercing thorns, and finally as he slowly suffocated on the cross. Dying like this... that had to take a lot of patience.
I mean, Jesus is GOD. He could have stopped at any time and said:
"Hey guys, this has been real fun, but I'm getting impatient, so I'm just gonna die now so I can save the world. Peace out."
But he didn't. He had to endure the entire weight of all of the world's sins before he could expire... and he did it with patience and humility.
I don't know about you, but when I put all of that into perspective, I think I can handle a few tough strains on my patience. While they may still be difficult at times, I have to remember to see the good that God is trying to bring out of the situation. He is trying to teach me to be holy like He is holy, perfect as His son is perfect.
*So this little line comes from one of my favorite movies... if you guessed Princess Diaries 2, then you are a winner!