Paul's first letter to the Corinthians informs us that love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4).
It is the dismal, dismal hour of 6 in the morning. I am at the breakfast table, and all of the cereal has been poured. There I am, looking through half-open eyes at two of the loveliest children in the world, one of whom -- I won't say any names -- will act this morning like he has never dressed for school in his life.
All I want to do is go back to bed. I fear that if I close my eyes, I will wake up drowning in a bowl of Rice Krispies. I start to eat and ignore the fact that my left foot still hasn't awakened since getting out of bed and is as useless as a bowl of Jell-O.
Why is it that when you have somewhere to go and children are involved that time flies? It was just 6 o'clock not 15 minutes ago.
That's when I rush the kids along forgetting the basic manners my wife and I have tried to instill in them. Lucky for me, they are not yet keen enough to ask me to say the magic word, so it's more like barking orders than giving instructions: get dressed, brush your teeth, hurry up, wipe your face, put on your shoes.
You'd be surprised that this pastor does get grouchy at times -- mostly between 6 and 9 a.m.
I don't know how it happens, but after breakfast my feet carry me into the bedroom and bathroom. My hands are on auto pilot and, before long, we are rushing out of the door.
I notice that one of those two lovely children -- I won't say any names -- still has bed-head. He stops at the bird bath to poke at it with sticks, as if he's never seen water or a birdbath before. I rush him to the car and tell him to buckle in, and, "Buckle in now!"
Then it hits me. These children, along with the one who birthed them, are the most important people in my life, and here I am rushing them along in life. Did I even smile yet? Have I said at least one nice thing? Have I complimented them on how proud I am that they can dress themselves and brush their own teeth in the first place, that poking around in the bird bath may the first signs of genius or scientific inquiry?
I think I am too impatient. I miss out on the small things in life to make time for what I mistakenly believe are the big things: meetings, schedules, agendas. What am I teaching my family by my behavior? Am I even being patient with myself?
This makes me wonder how God feels about me. There must be times when he jokes with angels, "Look at this one. You'd think he never took care of children before."
According to Paul, patience is one of the fruits of the spirit, along with other virtues such as joy and peace. We like joy and peace and all the rest, but we don't seem to have the time to be patient.
In the Greek, the word for patience is "hupomonay," and actually means "to abide" or "to persevere." Another word that the Bible translates for patience is "makrothumia," which means "longsuffering."
Either way, patience is not a luxury to take for granted; rather, it is the measure of our ability to endure the very pull of time itself.
Time: We all need more of it because we never have enough of it. Yet, from God's point of view, time is not so limited; and, for Christians who see salvation as a guarantee to eternal life, our time has no end so why rush through life?
We still insist on following the world's time, however, and because of that, we fail to see that patience is love in action. "Love is patient" indeed.
The Rev. Joe LaGuardia is the senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, 301 Honey Creek Road, Conyers. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trinityconyers.org.