Watching a heron is an education in patient stillness. They wait motionless, javelin-beak and sharp eyes watching, then strike swiftly. Sometimes they miss, and then like this handsome bird they carefully and slowly stalk through the shallows until another fishing spot appeals. Then they wait… and wait…
If you impatiently alarm or fluster a heron, and it suddenly perceives you as a threat, they become instantly comical. Taking off in a hurry is something they do efficiently but not elegantly!
How like me. I can be patient. But if I get flustered, or become agitated or angry, I lose all my poise. I am built for comfort rather than speed, and am elegant only in the sense of a hippo trying ballet.
Parents have a wonderfully annoying phrase… “Patience is a virtue.” Mine trotted it out whenever I was impatient or stroppy. It was SO aggravating- and didn’t immediately make me want to be patient!
Patience usually develops as a fruit of experiences of frustration and impatience. As the wise preacher said, don’t pray for patience unless you are willing to face things that demand it in large quantities. Patience is a skill acquired through practice. (Photography is a skill greatly enhanced by patience- especially if you wish to photograph wildlife.)
It is also a fruit of love, a gift of the Spirit, a response to the amazing Love of Christ that inspires us to emulate our Saviour. Christ in me makes me more like Him.
My conclusion? I will be only as patient as I am loving.
Perhaps “patience” is just a seven-letter spelling of LOVE.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Lord, help me grow in patience, in obedience to You, and in love to all those I encounter.