For the first decade of my ministry I preached from the King James Version of the Bible. As a result, much of the scripture I have committed to memory comes from that translation. Although it is inadequate in many ways, it also is rather remarkable and beautiful. One example is Luke 21:19, which says, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” The New Revised Standard Version replaces the word “patience” with “endurance,” which may be more accurate, but I think it misses the mark for modern living.
Perhaps you are a more patient driver than I am and don’t mind if the person sitting in front of you is texting after the light turns green. Of course, they look up just in time to make it through, leaving everyone else to sit through the light again. Maybe you are not irritated by the guy in the checkout line who forgot something and has sent his child or spouse to fetch it while you and everyone else waits. Perhaps the doctor keeping you waiting for 45 minutes while she sees three pharmaceutical reps isn’t a problem with your schedule. Yeah, I didn’t think so …
Jesus, though, was onto something. Patience, or the lack of it, really does say something very explicitly about the state of our souls. Why are we always in such a hurry? Are we really that important? Will someone die on the operating table if it takes us 90 seconds longer to check out at the grocery store? Is there really nothing we can read, or think or pray about while we wait for the doctor? I’m always complaining about not having any downtime, and here the Universe is giving me some. I’m wasting it, however, by fussing and fuming and resenting it.
I have to say that isn’t true for me anymore … at least not as much. I’ve come to enjoy my time sitting at the airport or on planes. Oh, I still get impatient now and then, but, somehow, in a life that has gotten overfilled, I have come to relish found moments of freedom to think and pray and breathe. When the doctor was running late, I read a magazine, and I can’t remember the last time I did that. Thanks for letting me catch my breath and find a new recipe for deviled eggs with avocados. Yum.
Rev. Michael Piazza