Long Line Lessons in Patience

Can you imagine siting in your car for 30 to 45 minutes behind a line of 50 cars stretching several blocks and winding around streets? Add in another 30 pedestrians who had parked nearby and were now lined up outside of this business where a competition has obviously emerged between foot and motorized traffic during peak hours. What was this all about? This was a typical weekend exercise in patience as patrons waited for their World Famous Round Rock Donuts! Our son and daughter-in-law were on the “donut run” this particular Sunday morning at 8:00am all in an effort to retrieve a special treat for the “visiting old folks” and themselves. The treat was none other than a dozen of the quintessential fresh-hot, absolutely delectable and of course, well-storied (This is Texas!) and carefully packaged glazed donuts!

Round Rock, Texas

I had a lesson in patience years ago at a DQ in Calvert, Texas! I had just attended a denominational meeting in Fort Worth and was on my way back home to Southwest Houston. The closer I got to my destination, the more uptight I was about getting back into the hurried pace of the city. I did not realize how “wound tight” I looked standing at the counter with my tie and white shirt looking all business like, but it must have been all over my face. Here I was in a rural and laid back community of 1,200 population just two hours northwest of home, but I was already feeling uptight and frazzled over my life amidst a frenzy of freeways!

I was not aware of showing any impatience, although I’m sure I was! After ordering, I stepped back to wait on my chocolate shake and it was then that I heard the adult server standing across the counter say, “Hey, relax! This is Calvert!” I think I replied, “Thanks! I needed that reminder!” This man’s well-intentioned comment resembled a mixture of psychological counsel as well as a Chamber of Commerce-like tip on the contrasting qualities of his community with the big city.

People who know me know I don’t do long lines very well! There is another donut chain that advertises, “Hot Now!” when its product is ready for display. Why is it that I love the idea of “Now!” so much?! You guessed it! I’m impatient! And that is not a good thing for one’s physical, emotional or spiritual health! Have you thought about how God may be engineering circumstances in our lives that become opportunities for us to learn patience? Long store lines, summer construction zones, delayed airline flights, and medical waiting rooms are legion!

What are these things telling us? When I repeated this question aloud, Monique simply answered, “Let go and let God! And pray!” I hate those compact clichés… especially when they hit a nerve of truth! 😉 I do know that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and evidence that God is having His way with us. The Apostle Paul lists nine fruit in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (5:22-23, NLT). Patience is nearly in the middle of that list as if to say it is holding the other fruit together!

I wish I could make a list of three easy things that would build patience in our lives. However, I think my beloved wife stated Paul's intent when he said, "The Holy Spirit produces this fruit!" Therefore, "Let go and let God" have His way in this endeavor to grow us in patience. In other words, get pride, selfishness, and angry reactions out of the way so that God can use the circumstances of everyday life as a classroom for growing His fruit. 

When others see what God is doing in and through our attitude, they will see Christ, our Lord, who said, "Come to me... Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and will find rest for your souls" (11:28-29). My prayer is for Christ to teach us so that patient love is our first and only reaction in the challenging circumstances of our lives!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 


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