The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience (Gal. 5:22)
Mark Buchanan’s fine book The Rest of God relates a story handed down through several generations of his wife’s family. This piece of lore tells about his wife’s grandmother Alice, who lived in a part of the Yukon known for luring gold-hunters willing to take great risks for the sake of great riches.
Grandma Alice had a garden in which there sat a massive stone. In as much as the stone would never be moved, Alice worked hard to beautify it and make it the natural centerpiece of the garden. She regularly polished the stone, rubbing it down to a smooth shine.
On one such occasion, as she polished the stone, she noted a fine caking of gold colored flakes. Pressing her moist finger to the stone she discovered a powdery gold-dust. Whatever it was that seized men and threw them into the raw elements to strike gold seized grandma Alice that day. She began to rub the stone feverishly, “like it was a bloodstain,” seeing the powdery gold accumulate with every stroke.
As weariness caught up with her she paused to wipe her brow, and then noticed with horror her left hand. Her wedding band was nearly as thin as a wire on the underside of her finger, thick and normal up top. In her eagerness, she had been grinding away her wedding band, chasing a treasure which wasn’t there at the expense of a treasure that was.
Buchanan reflects on the episode this way:
I’ve squandered treasures in pursuit of dust. I’ve eroded precious, irreplaceable things in my efforts to extract something that’s not actually there . . . Here are a few: all the times I never swam in a cool lake with my children, made a snowman or baked sugar cookies with them, lingered in bed with my wife on a Saturday morning, or helped a friend in need all because I was in a hurry to – well, that’s just it. I don’t remember. I was just in a hurry . . . I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things lie in the wake of all that rushing. Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. Turns out I was throwing it away. Sanding away my wedding ring. (The Rest of God, 43-45).
To live with patience means to live at a pace that allows us to truly experience life. A hurried life, a life lived anxiously, frenetic and impatient, has a price tag. We grind away our treasures as we chase what we think we must have, only to find we haven’t truly lived.
How does Buchanan’s story speak to your life? What treasures are you sacrificing because of hurry? What would it take to break that pattern?
Lord Jesus, I am too often in a hurry. I feel the push of expectations and demands, of schedules tightly packed. Grant me the kind of patience that resists hurry, and teach me to live the abundant life that you came to give, threough Christ our Lord. Amen.