Feeding eight dogs all at the same time is quite the process. In my house, each of the dogs has its own place for eating. As soon as it's mealtime, they are quick to take up their individual spots. Not all of them eat at the same pace, however. The older dogs, with fewer teeth, eat more slowly, while the young ones gobble it almost as quickly as the bowl is set in front of them. The very old dog eats by herself in a separate room as she chews a few bites, walks around in circles for awhile, and then goes back to nibble a bit more. Sometimes, she decides not to eat at all, so in due time, I have to pick up the bowl and remember to offer it to her again a few hours later.
Most days, the feeding process goes smoothly. Some days, however, especially if I am in a hurry or feeling frazzled or tired, I feel my patience wearing thin — very thin indeed. At such times, I remind myself to be patient, as each dog eats at its own pace according to its age and wellness.
The other morning at 4:45, while I was waiting for Skye to finish her breakfast so that I could go back to bed before I was really awake, I was talking to myself about patience, and the Lord reminded me of this verse:
Ephesians 4:2 – Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (NIV)
As I was contemplating its commands, I found myself comparing the dogs' eating pace to the pace at which different people learn and grow. We are all different, and the Lord speaks to each one of us in His own way according to our nature and abilities. He is also always completely humble and gentle with us, being patient and bearing with us in love.
What a wonderful thought and reminder this was for me at that early morning hour. So often, I can become impatient and cross with myself as I am struggling to learn and grow in a new situation.
Perhaps you, too, become impatient with yourself when you are faced with new areas of growth or old habits that just won't seem to let go. Or maybe your patience is tested to the limit when others continue to disappoint you when you feel that they are not shaping up the way that they should in certain areas. If so, take a moment to reconsider today's Scripture, and ask the Lord to help you to live it out, not only with regard to others that you are feeling impatient towards, but also in regard to yourself.
After all, we all learn and grow better in an atmosphere of gentleness, patience, and love, rather than one of impatience, criticism, and harshness!
Prayer: Father God, bless us this day with the grace to be a people worthy of the calling that we have received in Christ Jesus. Enable us through the power of Your Spirit to be completely humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love, that each of us may learn and grow according to the pace and process which suits us best. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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