Our family posted up at the end of the Memorial Day Parade route today. By my husband’s estimations (he loves to calculate stuff like this), since we were at the end of a route that spanned 1.6 miles and the parade was likely inching along at about 3 mph, the parade wasn’t going to make its way to us until approximately 30 minutes past start time.
I’m sharing this entire math-word-problem-stuff just as a way to explain how and why we were uncharacteristically early (yay!), but to the kids that was torturous. Thirty extra minutes! Well, that meant waiting, for-ev-errr. To them, it felt like waiting for eternity.
Eternity. That’s a big one. An abstract concept that exists outside of our linear, earthly understanding of time. Or… is it really that far out there?
The Bible says, eternity is inside of us!
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Eternity is in the human heart?!*
*gestures hand to sides of forehead and extends them, fingers splaying in a fashion to imitate explosion, or, in other words: mind.blown.
It’s a short verse, but wow, it’s a big bite to chew on! When God wired His universe He designed humans for His eternity! That’s a truth that can only be swallowed bit-by-bit. And how do we even begin to process it?
Well, God knows what we need and He has given us all the tools for living in His Spirit. And I think the best one for this particular job is the beloved patience.
It’s what I told my kids while they were waiting on the parade “Patience my child. You can have patience.” I remember as a kid getting the Bazooka Joe gum wrapper that read “Patience is a virtue. Seersucker is a fabric.” While I chewed on that one, literally and figuratively, I had to ask my mom to describe seersucker. This was after all, a childhood before Google!
Regardless, by then the whole “patience is a virtue” adage had been drilled into my mind. By adulthood, I’m sure I had formed some pride around that virtue. I considered myself a pretty patient person. Then, I had kids, God laughed, and I realized just how impatient I really am. And thus, I find myself praying every single day for more patience.
Eternity is steeped in mystery. So, without patience, holding onto the Hope of eternity is really hard. Patience is a training ground where our hope gains strength. If we are going to take hold of and really sink our teeth into the hope that He makes all things beautiful and that the “not yet” is lassoed to the “it’s all in good time”… well, we surely need patience.
First, our parents spoon-feed us patience with tiny, mushy bites on little airplane-zooming spoons. They taught us how to wait our turn at the playground’s coveted twisty slide. “Ick, patience!” the bitter grimace on our faces said. Then, we made a big mess but ate with our own fingers. When the boiling of a potential tantrum threatened to spill out in the toy-isle, we took a deep breath, and simmered as we thought about asking Santa instead. The calm on our faces as we put the toy back on the store shelf said “I can be patient.” Next, we adopted good table manners. With a napkin in our laps, we cleaned our plates. We experienced the delayed gratification of making a purchase with our first paycheck from our part-time job at the sunglass kiosk in the mall. The prides in our eyes saying “Patience is a virtue.”
Then we put the food on the table, serving up heaps of patience for all, feeding ourselves with the leftovers. We work hard hitting the same nail on the head, day after day and providing for others. Our tired eyes ask for “More patience, please.” Finally, we eat really slowly, savoring every morsel with patience now woven deep into our legacy. When our granddaughter spoon-feeds us our last meal of some hospital Jell-O, the inexplicable peace on our face says “Ok, eternity now, Lord come.”
Bit by bit, bite by bite… we have nourished our souls with patience and we find ourselves ever closer to the eternity set within our hearts.
As we walked back to our car after the Memorial Day Parade today, my son turned to me and said “That was worth the wait!”
Hope is hard, especially when it so often feels like an eternity. But when the mystery is unveiled, when we arrive at the feast of eternity, and our souls can fully fathom all the work of our magnificent Creator God, we too will proclaim “It was worth the wait.”