The Virtue of Patience
Stop, Look, Listen, GO!
Waiting isn't common in our time of instant gratification, but it's so worth it. Stopping, looking, listening, and then going gives us the ability to discern what God really intends for us.
My mother taught me this in regard to crossing the street when I was very young. I have been thinking and writing lately about waiting. Something that is not natural for me. Neither is it valued in our instant gratification society.
Do you know anyone who wants to wait for anything? Think about Amazon Prime. Yesterday I ordered a small item and got it in six hours. Amazon has made a lot of money on delivering what other people want and doing it fast. I hate to admit it, but I don’t like waiting in lines at the grocery store.
But if I ignore my mother's advice, odds are I will get hit by a car sooner or later. So I am disciplining myself to take these four steps whenever I find myself rushing into anything. Try my mom's four steps and see if they help you.
Step 1: Stop
My first step is to tell myself STOP!!! Sometimes I even yell to myself. This is the most important step for me. I physically stop, but also I stop whatever I am saying and thinking.
I try to cultivate some calmness. Stopping helps me, whether it is five minutes or several days. Or maybe I stop for a long, long time and never start whatever it is I was dealing with again. This usually takes a lot of practice.
‘Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.
Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?’
Step 2: Look
Looking happens for me when I make myself stop. Looking is not really only seeing with the eyes but asking myself, “What is really going on with me inside and around me?”
What am I experiencing and what do I feel about it? Once I start looking I tend to keep looking for a while longer. This is a good thing.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Step 3: Listen
Looking and listening are different. I want to hear God’s voice or recognize the other voices that might lead me astray. I have a chapter all about this in my book Live Large!.
I know that getting the right message before I go makes all the difference. Especially if I know that message comes from God.
let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
Step 4: Go
Even if you stop, look and listen, if you don’t go, you won’t get to where you want to be. Action is important, but it is only helpful to yourself and others if it is the action to take.
This is true no matter how little or big a step you are thinking of taking. When you decide to step out, be decisive and give it all you have.
The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
Reading and thinking about this will not help me very much. Actually taking it into my heart, praying for insight, and staying with it until a new habit emerges is what makes a big difference. What if Noah had done all the work of stopping, looking around to see what was happening, listening to God, but not going into the Ark and setting sail?
Change is hard, but it’s worth it.