Patience is hard. I don’t know about you but I’ve been in what seems like a holding pattern for EVER. Yeah, there are bits of movement, but sometimes it just seems like the glimpses of the future I see will never get here.
Years go by. Children get older. Friends’ lives change and I watch.
What seems just around the corner doesn’t get closer because you look down and find you’re on a treadmill. Do you relate?
Being patient is hard.
This morning I took a few of my children over to a friend’s house to teach them about the art of lapidary–rock polishing and cutting for those who don’t know what lapidary means. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either. I just knew it as rock tumbling.
I was kinda familiar with rock tumbling before–as in, I know you pick out some interesting, but common rocks you find here and there, and then put them in a little drum that tumbles them and they come out all shiny and smooth and GORGEOUS.
(A rock tumbler looks like this.)
But I didn’t know that it takes a really long time …relatively speaking. The tumbler mimics the natural processes of a waterfall and its pool of eddies and swirls, gravity and movement and the passage of time.
Still, it takes six weeks of continuous tumbling with short breaks to check the rocks and add a series of smaller grit media to the tumbler with your rocks. Yeah, six weeks! That seems like an eternity in our instant culture. [Don’t you hate it when you have to wait for a new season of whatever favorite show you’re watching to come out and you’ve watched all the back episodes already on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/Cable?]
I can’t show you any pretty pictures of our shiny rocks because it hasn’t been six weeks yet. Today was day one.
Looking at the rough rocks and thinking about how they are going to spend the next few weeks in a dark place banging into each other makes me think about LIFE and how our lives are shaped that way by God. [I promise this wasn’t a setup. I hate sappy life application stories written just to push something Christian-y. This is not that.]
He uses natural and supernatural forces to shape us into polished stones. And it often feels like that–being tumbled around over and over as abrasives cut, scratch and rub off your rough edges and other rocks bang into you from every angle–all of us along for the ride.
And what are we to do? Endure. Be patient. Close our mouths instead of swearing. Release judgments. Take a deep breath. Or three.
I was going to say there’s nothing we can do, but there’s a difference between us and inanimate rocks. The illustration only goes so far. The Bible says that God took out our hearts of stone and replaced them with flesh. That means there’s something we can do and something we can keep doing even if it seems like you have done it again and again and again and again.
Soften your heart. There isn’t really anything the rocks can do to make the process go any faster. The harder the rock and the harder the heart, the more time and grit it is going to take. At least the One running the rock tumbler knows what He’s doing.
Father, let whatever sharp edges are still in me be smoothed away. Help me to lean into the abrasive and receive your work in my heart.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 ESV)
[W]alk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
(Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV)
They sure are pretty when the process is finished.