Patience, Patience

We feel like we have been in a season of waiting for a year. Waiting for God to restore our joy in life and hope for work. Waiting to move to a new place. Waiting to see who would move with us. Waiting for tickets to land in Bridge City. Waiting for COVID restrictions to ease (still waiting on that one).

We are now starting to settle into our new home here in Bridge City. Today, the kids are building couch forts to stage Nerf wars in the living room, and I felt a wave of contentment that they felt at home enough to creatively play in our house with our own furniture (as opposed to the unsettled feeling of living in someone else’s space or having all your own things packed away). Perhaps we are over the waiting?

Yes. But alas, no.

One of the catchphrases of our co-workers is “faithfulness is success.” We already are being reminded in hard ways that the road is long and full of challenges. While we have seen so many wonderful things along the way and have seen God bless us in so many ways, we also find ourselves still waiting.

We finally have an apartment and a new place to live and work. We expect resident permits to arrive any day. Yet, we still have so far to go until we feel “at home” here. That sense is one that will be formed over years and seasons, not days and weeks. As newbies in the language and culture, even buying vegetables at the market is a lesson in humility and patience.

Perhaps the toughest area of patience for all of us is the area of making new friends. Cultivating deep friendship is slow in the best of times, but COVID restrictions here require us to be inside after 7pm and all weekend long, which makes getting together with others in our non-work/non-school time rather limited.

As I bring these challenges in prayer to the Lord, I hear his whispered reminder: “Yes, these too are a gift of reminder.” We long for a satisfaction that comes in part through the things around us: family, home, relationships, culture. These are good things in which we flourish and find meaning. But it is grace that we cannot fully find ultimate satisfaction in them because they are not the ultimate thing for which we were made. We live in the already-but-not-yet of His kingdom. We yet await eternity, not as a nice fantasy to sate our sorrows, but as a literal place centered around Jesus.

In his recent Atlantic article (a read well worth your time), Tim Keller reminds us of the distinction between worshiping the gifts and worshipping the giver of the gifts. I distort this distinction multiple times each day.

It is good for me to make a home here, to cultivate a place of rest and invitation for my family and guests. But the disappointment I feel at its imperfections and annoying requirement of constraint maintenance also nudges me to remember that the gifts of this life aren’t the chief end of my ambitions and affections.

We are not naturally a patient people. James was written for a people like us who have need of endurance until Jesus finishes what he has started. So pray for us. We need endurance in learning language. We need endurance in building new relationships. We need endurance in parenting and in marriage. We need endurance in our work. We need endurance in continuing pandemic restrictions. May we not grow weary and lose heart.

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