The Patience of God

My high school friend Terri hosts an Advent reflection group on Facebook each year, and she asked me to write something for one of the days. This was what I submitted.

In this season of Advent, we wait with expectation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. We reflect again on his coming to earth in the form of a baby to live life as a man (fully God, fully man), die for our sins, and be raised again. During Advent, we prepare our hearts to make room for Christ (“Let every heart prepare him room” as Isaac Watts penned in “Joy to the World”). We turn away from the things – even good things – that would draw us away from Christ in this season, and we focus on Him. We ponder the true Gift Giver, God Himself, and the gift of salvation (and much more!) that is ours in Christ.

We also remember that there is a second coming of Christ, one to come, and we consider how we are preparing for that coming. (“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” Luke 12:35)

We wait. We wait for our King’s arrival! We wait for His return!

In this season of our waiting, I began to reflect on a God who waits. Is there evidence in Scripture that God waits for us?

Look at these verses:

“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you….” (Isaiah 30:18)

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

“…God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared,…” (1 Peter 3:20)

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (2 Peter 3:15)

christmas oldMy husband and I are part of a couples’ “small group” in our church. We meet every month, rotating homes, to fellowship and study the Bible together. Several years ago, while we were at our small group in a time of animated discussion, I was listening to everyone share and fully engaged in the conversation. While we were talking about whatever our study was that week, several words flew across my mind, interrupting my thoughts: “I waited for you.”

It’s hard to explain as this kind of thing has only happened a couple of times in my life and perhaps it sounds odd. But while my attention had been fully focused elsewhere, not trying to imagine something God might say, those words cut right through the conversation and spoke (though not audibly) to my heart: “I waited for you.”

I remembered that when I was a little girl, there was a verse in the Bible that said something about God being patient so that many would come to salvation as He did not want people to perish. And in my young mind, I had wondered about that, thinking, “Yes, Lord, but the longer you wait, the more people are born, and so the more people are probably actually going to be lost because there are so many more people!”

After our small group, my husband went out to the movies with the guys, and I went home and got down on the floor with my Bible and prayed, asking God about this. “Where is that verse?” “And are you speaking about that verse to me?”

As I prayed and flipped through my Bible, I found the verse in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

face to faceI asked the Lord if He would keep showing me this verse and teaching me through it if this was truly from Him. Three days of that next week, God brought me this verse through various devotionals and books. One had come in the mail that week from a conference I had attended, and the devotional was about 2 Peter 3:9. I also occasionally work through the book Face to Face (it guides your prayer with Scripture), and 2 Peter 3:9 was listed as one of the verses for the day. Then there was a third source, as well, another day. All three unseen beforehand, placed and timed perfectly that week to show me this truth.

The thought was quite powerful. God had waited for me. Before I had believed Christ and trusted Him with my life and for the forgiveness of my sins, He had been waiting for me. Once it became personal, I suddenly threw out all of the mental mathematical work on that verse that I had done as a child! God had waited for me. I ponder each of those words. Our God, the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world – waiting – for me, small though I am, sinful, unworthy, yet even for me, He waited.

Do you know this King that is coming? The One who has come and will come again? Can you imagine that He might be waiting for you? If you haven’t trusted Jesus for your sins, why not do so this very day, this Christmas season, and experience a rebirth even as we celebrate His birth.

The Bible tells us that if we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). I pray you know this Jesus as your Savior and Lord, and the abundant, eternal life He wants you to have. And may we celebrate with joy a God who is so personal, who loves us so dearly, that He would send His Son into our brokenness and sin to suffer in our place so that we might know His righteousness and be reconciled to God. What a gift! What a Savior! What a King! Praise the Lord!

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