Faithful Living

"It was during the ninth grade when I first decided I wanted a personal faith that not only had some life to it, but would be reflected in the way I presented myself on a day-to-day basis. Motivated by a dynamic youth leader, a gifted and ever-patient youth choir director, and most importantly a group of friends with whom I loved spending time, I began attending a youth group that met once a week and singing with my church’s traveling youth choir. One of the warm-up songs was a catchy little chorus that includes lyrics straight out of the Bible. We called it the “Patience” song and it goes like this:“Patience is a virtue, my son.Patience is a virtue and don’t you forget it.All things come together for the Righteous One —Patience is a virtue, my son.”While I learned early on that I did not possess a voice that could serve God in any capacity, I did learn that He gave me the gift of patience. In fact, it was well-developed years before, for I carried an invisible sign that only those in need could see. It reads, “You can tell me ANYTHING and I’ll stop and listen.”When you carry such a sign you learn to be patient. You see, a person’s great need will always present itself at the least convenient time for you. And it will invariably complicate your life.While some kids bring home stray animals, I brought home stay children while growing up. “Had your sign out again, didn’t you!” my mother would exclaim when the phone began ringing or the doorbell chiming. An amazing and colorful collection of kids passed through our front door, with an equally amazing set of stories and traumas. While I realized quickly that I could not fix any of them, or their situations, I could listen. My mom was also a full-time, stay-at-home mother during those early years and willingly provided cookies and milk when needed. And so we would work.But it was not easy. Lots of times I found it a bit embarrassing when I inherited a persistent “tag-along” that greatly needed my listening ear and rather liked being with some of my friends who were a great bunch but did not feel so called to patiently deal with the lonesome and the outcast. Even I had to learn to set boundaries and I felt frustrated when those boundaries were inappropriately crossed.Today my life is busy and I sometimes forget about my sign. But this week it caught the attention of a young adult who had a need and he took me up on my offer — at the very moment I was mustering all the patience I could possibly find.It happened in a line at a fast-food restaurant. I had to deliver one of my kids to an activity and she announced en route that she was dying of hunger and could not possibly wait three hours to eat dinner. Realizing we were close to our destination and could swing in to grab a bite on our way, we took advantage of our good fortune and hurried in. To our great surprise and even greater irritation, one worker cleaned counters directly in front of us but never took our order. The other was slow as molasses as he was a new hire.Not only that, but he read my sign and I realized in the midst of our pressure-cooker situation that nothing but love and patience was in order. If I chose to be rude and demanding I would fail God and serve as a terrible example.The words of the chorus, not thought about in months, began playing in the back of my mind as I listened to his problem. I glanced at my watch. I was seven minutes behind the schedule I had set for myself. But he had a need and as only God can arrange it, I had the ability to easily find answers to his questions and his frustrations.Why did a deep and potentially life-altering conversation happen then, and with me? I will never know. But I do know my daughter was there to see it. She will watch to see that I follow through with my commitment to help this young person make the connections he needs.Faith is impractical and complicating. It demands our best when it would be easier to stress out on those around us. But patience is a virtue, my son. It is also a choice because God asks us to be players in His schemes. ----------------Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books published by Gospel Light Publications. She can be reached at "

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