Patience … or an Opportunity to be Patient?

One of my favorite movie lines is from “Evan Almighty.” Since the first time I heard it, this dialog has spoken to me over and over through the years. Let me set up the scene. Evan has been told by God to build an ark. He finally listens and obeys and starts this astronomically huge project. Evan’s wife has taken all she can with the building of an ark and being made fun of and her family falling apart. She has prayed to God for her family to be loving and supportive towards each other and hang tight together – but she has heard no answers. So, she decides to take the kids and leave Evan. They stop at a cafe to eat and the kids have left the table, leaving Mrs. Evan alone. The waiter, which is actually God, stops at Mrs. Evan’s table – sensing something is wrong. After some gentle questioning, Mrs. Evan finally opens up to God the waiter and tells him that her husband is the one that has been all over the news and is building an ark.

Here is where some of the most profound advice I’ve ever heard comes in. The waiter told her:

“If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does He give them courage or give them the opportunity to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be close, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them the opportunity to love each other?”

How many times I have prayed that God would help me be more loving; yes, I wanted the magic fairy wand! But God gives us what we need, not always what we want. God knows that I have qualities and characteristics that need improving. So, God put me into a blended family where other children required nurturing, understanding, compassion – love. My own children will be the first to tell you that I’m a “put on your big girl panties’ kind of gal. Nurturing, understanding and loving, those who don’t love me back were not my strong suits, but what a perfect opportunity for me to improve my skills in those areas.

What are some of the things you have been praying for in your family? Have you been asking God to make yours a more tight-knit family? Maybe your prayer is that your family would follow God more closely. Or, worse yet, you have been praying for your family to have more patience with each other! Even though the above dialog is from a movie, I am believing that God works in our lives just that way – He allows us to be in situations that will give us the opportunities to learn and grow in the areas that we need the most work. He uses those experiences to shape and mold us into the people that will honor Him and glorify Him. Oh, He could just zap us into the people He wants us to be, but then we would miss out on the most crucial part of life – the journey!

I want you to know that I’m not sharing this because I have mastered this whole love and nurturing thing; but I am writing because God is alive and working in me! Hallelujah!

Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him.”

So be careful what you pray for … God is always going to work His best for you – and I don’t think there is magic fairy dust included!

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