The brightly colored gift bag hung from my door greeting me with the letters, P-E-A-C-E. The colors danced across the bag with inviting allure. I removed the bag from the door handle, wondering what was inside and who had left it, made my way in and curiously opened the card contained within my serendipitous discovery.
The card was signed by a dear friend and the gift was a belated birthday present. I was so excited with the first gift of stationary, I did not realize there was a second gift wrapped tightly in tissue paper tucked a bit deeper within the bag. I only discovered my second gift, when I was about to fold the bag and toss the tissue paper. I felt something very hard as I gathered the wrappings, and quickly realized there was a second surprise.
I unwrapped a metal bracelet, like a watch, but instead of a watch face there appeared a colorful porcelain medallion with the following words: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. ~Romans 12:12
With appreciation I contacted my friend and assured her I had received her thoughtful gift. We talked about getting together in the near future. I picked up the newly acquired piece of jewelry admiring it before setting it down on my dresser, and going about the rest of my afternoon.
Now I know that God is patient, because certainly He continues to be patient with me, and I believe I still am in need of His meting out graciously much of this attribute for me and within me. He is also creatively persistent in communicating His will for me, generally and specifically.
I assure you I have read the Book of Romans many times. I have studied and pondered the truths presented within its pages. Still, I am like that bleating sheep in the distance. You know the one. The one that wanders to the edges of His grace, just to see how far that grace goes?
I have learned that no matter how far you get from Him, He is never far from you. Not that I am encouraging you to test the limits, just reminding you that His limits are limitless. His grace? It’s beyond reason. You cannot get to the place where He cannot hear your bleating.
He is patient with this slow learning sheep, offering three little statements that stand out among a plethora of directives. Like stars glimmering in the night, catching the eye, causing one to linger long in their upward glance.
The words make a To Do List for soul security in insecure times.
Directive 1: Be joyful in hope– I ask myself, am I joyful in hope? I ponder hope. We have a Hope that is unseen but ever-present. This Hope has a name- it is Jesus Christ and this Hope gives us purpose, strength and endurance for whatever the path ahead holds for us.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16
Directive 2: Patient in Affliction- I ask myself, am I patient in affliction? No one wants to go through suffering, pain, trials. But we all do. God’s Word promises that these circumstances have the potential to give us much in return as we learn to trust Him (James 1:2-4).
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your word has revived me. Psalm 119:50
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. Psalm 119:92
Directive 3: Faithful in Prayer- I ask myself, am I faithful in prayer? When I think of faithfulness in prayer the persistent widow (Luke 18) comes to my mind. She comes to my mind, because I need to be more like her. We are to walk by faith not by sight, yet I am often guilty of doing the exact opposite. I get shortsighted and see obstacles instead of opportunities. I quit to soon, forgetting God’s faithfulness to me. I want to be more like her because Jesus held her up as an example of how to pray and never give up.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. John 18:1
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
I need reminders and God is faithful to provide them; these reminders take many forms. They are packaged in thoughtful gifts, kind words, and a loving rebuke. They show up on doorsteps, through words from others, in the pulpit and Scripture.
Lord, all things are possible with you, through you. Help me to be all those things You are in increasing measure. Thank you that you are my soul’s stability in unstable times. Thank you that you are patient with me in the process I am in. Help me be the same way with others.