#33 Love is Patient (13/07/02)

By Robert A. Schuller

My father and I are continuing our series of messages on love and today the topic is Love is PATIENT. As we look at the word, "patience," I want you to know that I have two teenagers. So I am experiencing that love is patient ... and I'm beginning to believe that it will take a lifetime to learn the art of patience. Recently I read this illustration of the reality of patience.

At four years old our children say, "My father can do anything." At eight years old they say, "My father knows everything." At twelve years old the saying changes somewhat to, "My father doesn't really know everything." At fourteen years old; "Father knows very little." Sixteen; "Father is hopelessly old fashioned." Eighteen; "He is not only old fashioned, he is old." Twenty-five; "Well, Dad knows a little bit about today's world." Thirty-five; "Before we decide, let's get Dad's opinion." Forty-five; "I wonder what Dad would have thought about it." And at sixty-five; "I wish I could talk it over with Dad."

King David in Psalm 37 shares these words about patience:

"Do not fret ... because of evil doers, nor be envious of those who do wrong. For like the grass they soon will wither and like green plants they will soon die away...

"Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and on His faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your ways to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause as the noonday. Be still ... before the Lord and wait patiently for Him."

Included in these words from the Psalmist David are four action steps. He gave these words to us so we could experience patience in our daily living. Many years later Jesus Christ in His ministry on earth emphasized these same points. The first words are, "don't fret ..." a more contemporary saying, "don't worry" communicates the same meaning, The second action step is to "rejoice ... " or in my words, "be happy ..." Then the third step is "be committed..." and the fourth is "be still ..."

Love is Patient:

1) Don't Fret ... Don't Worry

Our challenge this morning is to recognize the patience in love. Begin by throwing away worry. Early this morning I went to my Rancho Capistrano office to complete my preparation for today's message. Last night after I finished my work, I left my glasses there along with my books and materials that I would need this morning. But when I arrived at the Ranch at five-thirty AM, the gates were locked - which I knew - but I know the combination. The big problem was it was still dark and I didn't have my glasses! And the numbers were really tiny. I needed more light so I shone the high beams of my car directly on the lock. Then I tried to focus on a number ... I figured it out, then another and I finally had all five numbers. But ... the gate did not open! I was so frustrated. I couldn't believe it. Well, there are two gates, surely the other gate lock will work. So I tried that one. I went through the same routine focusing the car lights on the combination and punching the numbers. But that one would not open either! By this time it was nearly six o'clock and I saw a car coming from inside the Ranch. (The Ranch is a retreat center that accommodates groups that meet for study and prayer staying for a weekend or longer.) Someone was leaving to catch a plane. But they couldn't get out ... I couldn't get in. I said, "Would you tell me what the combination on the lock is." She confirmed that the numbers I pushed were correct. Now, I was hoping and praying that our kitchen staff would not be too late. They are scheduled to come at six. At six o'clock they came right on time ... but they couldn't get the lock open either. Now what? Finally another car arrived and I recognized our food service manager and he had the correct combination. The combinations had all been changed yesterday! He opened the gates and everybody was happy!

But having to be delayed for almost an hour drove me to the breaking point of patience. Have you ever felt that way? One more minute and I'm just going to explode? It was so difficult not to think that everything is going wrong. We start asking why such things always happen to us. The words of Psalm 37 and Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34) urge us meanwhile to trust God for all things. "Don't worry." Do what you can and then realize that somehow, someway God is in control. I confess I was worried the entire time, at that locked gate, and God was giving me the perfect sermon illustration for this morning. Love is Patient ... so don't worry.

Love is Patient

2) Be Happy

Happiness is a state of mind. It is not a state of being anything. It is not a state of being fat or thin ... nor a state of being tall or short. Happiness is not a state of being healthy or sick. Happiness is not being CEO or manager of your company. Happiness is a state of thinking. Happiness is a state of mind that allows us to see the possibilities that God has for us. He is in control and wants only good things for us, so trust and believe in Him, and call upon His word.

One of my favorite stories is one I have heard my father share often. I have named it the "Story of Life" because it explains how God works in our lives. It is an old Chinese fable. An old man lives up on the mountain and he has only two possessions, one horse and one son. One day his horse breaks out of the corral and runs away and is gone. This is tragic. It means his livelihood. He can't work his fields or do anything. So all the neighbors come and they are so distraught for him. They say, "Oh, what bad luck you have." The old man replies, "How do you know it's bad luck?" They all go home, shrugging their shoulders.

Sometime later his horse returns bringing with him six wild mares into the corral. The son runs to close the gate. Now instead of only one horse, the man has seven horses. When all the neighbors hear his good fortune they come excitedly saying, "Oh, what good luck you have." But the old man says, "How do you know it's good luck?" They all shrug their shoulders and return home.
Not long after, his healthy son is taming one of the wild mares and in the process, is thrown, his leg is shattered and he is crippled. When all the neighbors hear about this tragic event, they come to express their condolences saying, "Oh, what bad luck you have." And again, the old man replies, "How do you know it's bad luck?"

Not long after, a warlord comes through the village and drafts every able bodied man. Seeing this young son who can't run or can't march, he is left behind. And everyone exclaims, "What good luck ...." The story doesn't end there, but goes on and on and on. That's life! From our tunnel vision we can't always recognize good news from bad news, nor good luck from bad luck.

"All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

LOVE IS PATIENT!

1) Don't worry ... 2) Be happy ... and the Psalmist tells us to ...

3) Be committed.

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:5-6)

Be committed. What is your cause? What is your purpose? What is your calling? God has created every living creature on planet earth for a purpose.
The Crystal Cathedral is a member of a denomination called the Reformed Church in America. We are committed to that institution. As a result of our commitment, our membership requires that we send a delegate to the General Synod, the highest governing body in the denomination. The General Synod is represented by pastors and elders from the one hundred-ninety-six churches in the denomination across America and around the world. This past week I was assigned as a representative of the Southern California churches at the General Synod. The meetings began on Thursday from 7 AM with scheduled breakfast meetings, until as late as 11:00 at night. Our discussions were focused on the opportunities and the many tasks and challenges that face this 375-year-old church. We explored how we could more effectively minister and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible. How can we fulfill the vision and the calling of this denomination to become a light in a dark world? Our church is committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are committed to that vision.

Be committed! We also need to be committed to our families. As fathers and mothers, we need to be committed to our children ... and that ... many times requires patience.

Love is Patient.

1) Don't worry ... 2) Be happy ... 3) Be committed ... and
4) Be still ...

The Psalmist said it this way,

"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him ..." (Psalm 37:7)

Be still and wait. Waiting is something we do not like to do. It says that the average person becomes visibly agitated after waiting forty seconds for an elevator. I know I personally become impatient waiting thirty seconds for the microwave to heat up my coffee or my hot water in the morning. I become impatient when the one-hour photo takes one hour and thirty minutes. We are an instantaneous society. When we want it ... we want it now. But there are some things that just take a little longer and requires more patience. And when we try to rush, things just don't come out right. I wrote about that in my book, "In Search of Morality ... Living a Fulfilled Life from the Inside Out."
"I believe that our inability to wait has created tremendous problems in our society. People cut corners because they don't want to wait to do things right. People rob and steal because they don't want to wait for wealth to accumulate over time. Teenagers experience pre-marital sex because they don't want to wait for marriage.

Some people endanger themselves and others by driving too fast simply because they can't wait to get to where it is they're going. Some people get themselves in terrible credit problems because they can't wait to have all the things they want.

Many teenagers mortgage their future by dropping out of school before they've graduated because they can't wait to get out into the world and start making money."

It may increase your patience to realize that every minute you have is another gift from God. The minute you are living through right now is a gift from God. So when God tells you to wait for Him, He is perfectly within His rights. He is asking you to give back to Him what He has already given to you." [1]

Love is patient ...

1) Don't worry. If you have to wait a little bit longer, don't worry

2) Be happy

3) Be committed

4) Be still and know that the Lord is God.


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