November winds and rain have torn most of the leaves off our trees. The maples and aspens, the ash and ironwood stand stark and bare. Only the oak, beech and, of course, all the evergreens cling to their leaves.
The fallen leaves will increase the humus that enriches the forest soil in the years ahead. A wise neighbour has a sign by the road, Leaves Wanted. He obviously understands the potential that too many of us waste. He must be a patient man.
The production of humus and compost takes time, lots and lots of time. The production of character takes even more time—and patience. Sometimes we are too impatient with our children or with ourselves. Why am I making the same mistake again? Why haven’t I yet learned to trust God, to stop being anxious, to give thanks in every circumstance, or to know unshakeable peace?
Our impatience is understandable. We no longer have to churn our own butter or knit our own sweaters. We have fast food, lightning fast Internet, smart phones, and twitter. We want things and we want them yesterday. Could this omnipresent pressure to speed things up be one component that leads to failures in so many marriages and the low level of social discourse?
As someone has said, almost everything comes to those who wait. But we don’t want to wait. We want things to happen now, fast…including the development of our children’s character and the change in our partner.
However, Scripture is clear. “The fruit of the Spirit is…patience”(Gal 5:22) and patience is a crucial component of character. We don’t learn patience without going through difficulties over a period of time. And patience expressed over a long period of time is called, perseverance. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:3-5). We’ll never see God’s love poured through our lives without developing character and that doesn’t come without persevering through trials.
Which of God’s promises do we want? More faith? More peace? More joy? “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”(Heb. 10:36). “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Patience is needed in every sphere of human endeavour and in every relationship. As we develop character marked by “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” we are able to “bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another”(Col. 3:12,13). Isn’t that one of our great desires, to live in a community where we all get along?
Humus takes time to develop, so does patience. Let’s give each other time.