The other day I posted a blog about not being obsessed with being busy and the importance of slowing down (you can read it here if you missed it https://holyadventures.blog/2021/09/07/busy-days-in-quarantine/ ). My lovely mum commented on the post, ‘oh no! I just asked God to give me more work to do, what do I do now?!’ – my paraphrase. Now anyone who knows my mum also knows it is physically NOT possible for her to do MORE work. Like, if God were to answer this prayer in her ‘favour’, it would only be by creating another day in the week (not a bad idea if you’re listening Lord, but please can you wait until after quarantine is over?!). It turns out she had asked God for a stronger work ethic, so she could get more done (again, insane, but 🤷🏼♀️). Well, would you look at that; lo and behold she suddenly gets more work to do…just so she can practice, I guess… 🥴
Be careful what you wish for!
Today is Blursday, the millionth day of quarantine, and only a few hundred thousand days to go… Every day is amazingly similar, stunningly predictable, Groundhog Day-like (which, incidentally, I hated as a film, but dislike even more as real life!)…and, whilst thinking about my mama and her request for a stronger work ethic, I find myself wondering when I asked God for the gift of patience, and whether I can take that request back! Practicing being patient is really not fun, friends!
I warned you in blog post #1 that God is often a tricksy customer, One to be watched and not to be messed with, and this is a classic example of that!
Ask for more patience, and the only way that can be grown in you is to be in situations that are frustrating, I guess, and that require additional patience.
Ask for the gift of being able to forgive, and it follows that we will face opportunities where we are called on the flex those forgiveness muscles until they grow stronger.
Ask for an increase in any of the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control) and God will give us those gifts, but they take time and experience and practice and energy and sometimes some flippin’ hard work to grow in us.
And, yes, whenever I sit and moan in here, in this posh hotel, with food brought to me 3 times a day (or twice, when they forget me), with the most amazing bed and stunning views and hot showers and with all the time on my hands and nothing required of me…whenever I sit and moan in here, then I really am redefining First World Problems – I get that – but nonetheless, boredom is boredom, and learning to be patient is not fun.
But, and here is the Good News, it will be good. I know that to be true, because we worship a God who only gives good gifts. Learning patience is not a punishment for anything at all. It is preparation for the Holy Adventure God is calling me on to next. In fact, anything we learn, on any given day, is preparation for that which is next.
AND, because God is good and tricksy, in equal measure, we do need to be careful what we wish for (pray, obviously, but there isn’t a song called ‘be careful what you pray for…’ so bear with me in this case of poetic license!), because, as the song goes, we might just get it.
And that reminds me… a couple of years ago a memory flashed up on my newsfeed, a screenshot of something I’d written a decade or so before, long before I was ever ordained, and it said words to this effect… ‘God, if I ever have to lead a church, can it be used to feed the hungry and keep them warm?’ To that request, God clearly said YES, a resounding one, and even in the highs and lows of that ministry, I’ve never regretted that prayer and I continue to pray it for where I will go next and for every flavour of my ministry in the years to come. Please God, may I always feed the hungry and warm those who are cold? Yes?
And maybe, in order to answer these broader brushstroke prayers, God needs to also work on our character? Maybe I never actually said ‘God, please could you make me more patient?’ but maybe God sees that it’s a thing that needs growing in me, and that 27 years in quarantine will be useful for that (14 days, Gemma, 14 days, stop catastrophising!).
So, my advice today is to be careful what you wish for, but wish for it anyways, because maybe that’s what the psalmist meant when they wrote ‘delight yourself in the Lord and you will be given the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4 – inclusive language, mine).
Perhaps the original manuscript continued ‘…it might suck for a while, but it’ll be worth it in the end’. Shame that bit never made the final cut! 😉