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:
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...
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
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
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.
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.
things work together for good to those who love God and are called
according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
Don't worry ... 2) Be happy ... and
the Psalmist tells us to ...
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)
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.
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.
Don't worry ... 2) Be happy ... 3) Be committed ... and
4) Be still ...
said it this way,
still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him ..."
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
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
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." 
Love is patient ...
Don't worry. If you have to wait a little bit longer,
Be still and know that the Lord is God.