5-9So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
(2 Peter 1:5-9)
Passionate patience - seems like an oxymoron, right? Patience suggests the ability to wait - how many of us actually wait with any kind of passion? In fact, if we were to be totally honest, we'd probably say that we dislike waiting because it seems like such a waste of time!
The very first definition of patience has nothing to do with waiting. In fact, it has to do with bearing up under annoyance, persecution, misfortune, pain - all without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or emotional outburst! It is the next definition of patience that most of us associate with - that of a willingness to suppress our endless restlessness when there is a delay in our gratification. If we go so far as to examine the very first "synonym" of patience, you will find the word "stability" describing it!
Peter even goes so far as to imply that our patience (stability, lack of restlessness, diligence) needs to be passionate! What is being described is an intensity that surpasses the normal patience we exhibit in daily dealings. When the need arises for our persistence, we are intent on persisting. Fervent, enthusiastic, consistent submission to the alert discipline, spiritual understanding, and good character that God is building in our lives.
Things in life will come our way that will require us to make the right amount of emotional investment - neither too much, nor too little. Peter is describing the type of life that is in balance - emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There is an intensity, but it is not marked with restlessness. We have observed people going through things that we could label as "intense" in their lives, each taking hold of that "intensity" in a different way. Some dig in deeper, almost looking for cover in whatever can distract them away from that severe intensity. Others turn tail and run, attempting to escape the intensity because it is too unpleasant, requires too much investment, or presents uncomfortable options for them.
Peter is describing the kind of response to intensity that does not move quickly to complaint about the circumstance, does not easily become irritated with the amount of investment being required (emotionally, physically, spiritually). In fact, there is a response that shows that the desire for immediate gratification is no longer the motivating influence in our lives. For many of us, we have a long way to go on this one. Honest evaluation of our lives would confirm that we struggle with submission when the issues are intense, the pressures are mounting and the promise of any kind of gratification is waning!
How do we get to this point of passionate patience? Remembering what Peter has already told us, it is through allowing the Holy Spirit to work into the very fibers of our being the stability that needs to be there. Today will present us with one or more opportunities to choose wisely - when we do (we call that obedience), a new fiber is woven into us. The more we make those choices, the more the fibers are interwoven, until we have a strong cord that bears up under pressure. It is not instantaneous! In fact, it takes time.
My mother-in-law learned how to weave. She had a small loom in her house where she learned the skill. I remember her passing the small wooden piece called the shuttle through the fibers of yarn stretched on those wooden bars of that loom. At first, she was clumsy, slow, and not very sure of herself. As she practiced, the passing of that shuttle became more like an art than an effort. Today, she creates pieces that are on display around the world. Each piece is a work of art!
That is what God is after in us - a work of art. His goal is that we will allow the "passing of the shuttle" to become a thing we are comfortable with - allowing him to "weave us" into a work of art. At first, we feel like it is a clumsy, slow, and arduous process. After some time, the "passing" of the shuttle becomes easier - in other words, we don't resist the work of the Holy Spirit in directing our choices any longer. We enjoy the touch of the Holy Spirit's hand, gently directing us, keeping us steady, allowing just enough tension in our lives to "weave together" that which produces the beauty of his holiness within. Passionate patience - it is the work of the "Skilled Artisan" in our lives.