Many years ago, I was in the middle of my first major crisis. I was at a loss for answers, and as an Atheist, my paths to advice were limited to other people. I was left with a circular route of thought. Out of sheer frustration and hopelessness, I buckled to the pressure of prayer.
I didn’t know what god to pray to. Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Odin, and Gaia were at the top of the list regionally. As I met representatives from each of these gods, I found that the common trait they each had, was admitting there was a higher power at work in their lives. I fell into the human need to please through actions and after many trials, I concluded, these activities do nothing but help my feelings. I needed something more permanent.
I prayed to God. “I need patience, wisdom, and love. Lead me to these things, and I will follow you.”
The next day, I met a Christian man. Well, to be honest, I knew this man, but we hadn’t seen each other in over a decade. That lead me down a path to patience.
See, it took me a while to figure out how this meeting helped. But, let me tell you, you want to practice patience, hang out with Christians. In a couple years, I leveled up my patience, when I had a wife. Patience forged love, and love strengthened my patience.
Until my child was born. Taking both patience and love to the next level. And through the building of my family, through 2 wives, a total of 4 kids, I realized this was the ultimate training grounds.
And then yesterday happened. After years of people constantly telling me “I wish I had your patience.” or “You have the patience of a Saint.” I was at a crossroad, again, asking God for advice. He said to me “Well, what would Jesus do?”
I replied, “Well, to be honest, Jesus moved around a lot. He had a lot of needy people following Him daily, and he hid from them in a garden. Ultimately, He gave up His life.” So, am I to follow suit? I was lead to a story in the bible most people have heard. Jesus walking on water was more than a miracle. It was an account of godly patience.
(Matthew 14 in case you want to read the incident yourself)
Jesus was just informed that John The Baptist was beheaded. This was Jesus’ family, the man who baptized Him. He needed some time alone and left to do so. But, the people followed Him. If you ever had kids, you understand this dilemma. He needs some alone time, and here come the needy seeking His time and talents. He still wanted to be left alone but put himself aside to meet their needs. His disciples, the most trusted entourage in history, wanted to step in and send them away. But Jesus knew this wouldn’t work. So he sent for everyone to come to him.
Once everyone was full, he sent the disciples out on a boat, and he sent the people home. All so he could make his way to the hills, so he could be alone. You know, like, feeding your kids and sending them outside to play, so you can get some time in for yourself?
So, after an already stressful day, the disciples were out in the boat, when a storm started up. Have you ever had a storm rise up, stranded in a spot you couldn’t avoid it, but fearful of meeting it head on? Here they were, on their own, no hope in sight. As they were in a panic, they see Jesus walking on the water towards them. Were they rejoicing when help arrived? No. Big surprise, they made matters worse. It is almost like a human condition, to take a small problem, and make it bigger.
They became more fearful of a ghost. Really? They know Jesus, been with him all over, and even just left him on the shore hours earlier. Yet, somehow it made sense to them, that this would be a ghost, not their leader. So much so, they even doubted him as he confirmed his identity. and in order to prove he was actually him, Peter challenged him. “If it is you, invite me out to walk on water with you.”
Jesus gave him what he had asked for. He was walking on water! But, instead of focusing on the answer, he got caught up in the storm raging around him. He chose to focus on the problem instead of the solution, he began to sink. Calling out again for Jesus’ help. Jesus helped him up into the boat, and the storm stopped.
So, as I read this, it makes me wonder, “What was Jesus thinking?” As he just tried to get some time for himself, the needs of those around him needed to be met. Even if he didn’t think they were important, the fact that the people did, made it important to him. Not only did he set aside his needs to meet those of his people, he ended up getting his time when his people were happy. He didn’t try and escape while chaos was brewing. He made their needs top priority. And when things got thick, he didn’t abandon his people, he came to help them. Even when they made things worse, he still persisted to help them. Could you imagine the look on Jesus’ face when he saw Peter smacking the water around him in a panic? Have you ever seen a child in 3 inches of bathtub water, freak out? You, seeing the whole picture, know there is no danger there, and you also know you are there in case of emergencies. But to the child, the fear of the unknown weighs more than the trust they have in you.
Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset”. Understanding the human need to make things worse than they are, will help you temper your patience. Because in the end, if you let stress consume you, you will drown in it. If you are watching those around you experiencing a storm, understand, they may not see you as being there to help them. The need to make things worse will probably get some accusatory arrows shot your way. But hold steady. The time will come they will seek out your help, just make sure you are there for them. Be outside the storm if you are to help. Make sure not to get caught up in the storm.