I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance. – Revelation 2:2
Like the people of Egypt under the leadership of the Pharaoh and his servant leader Joseph, every family will have its fat years and its lean years. My family was no exception, yet for some reason the lean years seem to have left their noticeable marks more than the fat ones.
During one especially lean year, I had approached Dad with the hope of buying a new bicycle. Although I was saddened to hear that it was impossible, I was later assured that a used bicycle could be purchased and that Dad and I could work together to paint and fix it up.
Patience was not one of my childhood virtues. Having watched the newly purchased, used, rusty old bicycle sit untouched in the garage for three whole weeks, I finally decided to paint it alone, and I did. At the young age of ten I was old enough to remove the wheels, chain, pedals, and seat. I taped the handlebars, but cleaning, sanding and removing the rust and priming were unknown requirements to me. Besides, I was anxious to quickly move past the work to the fun part – spray painting. So, having completed the taping and removing of chrome parts, with five cans of 69-cent spray paint, I spray shot that old rusty bike from every angle imaginable. From the rear brakes to the front fork, it was undoubtedly red all over. And I was proud. At last I had my shiny red, beautiful, like new-bicycle. And I had done it all by myself!
When Dad came home from work he was noticeably surprised and yet a little bit quiet. After supper he joined me in the garage to reassemble the unpainted parts of the bike. It really did look good.
This, of course, gave me ample opportunity to brag to one and all of my great painting accomplishment. From then on I really babied that bike, kept it washed, oiled, and shined. I was really proud! Then for some unknown reason the shiny new paint on my red bicycle began to crack and peel off. When I first noticed it I went straight to Dad to complain about the cheap paint he had bought. His easily recognizable smile quickly informed me that I was at fault. And his explanation about the futility of covering up the rust, how it would only look good for awhile but eventually show through was an enlightening lesson for my youthful impatience.
There is still within me a large dose of childlike impatience that wants to rush ahead and do those things that are bright, shiny, and easily recognizable. But now I know that things worth doing require patience, planning and underlying hard work. In Revelation 2:2 John writes to the angel of the church, “I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance.” I find his words applicable to many areas of my life. Had I known them at ten years old, I could have applied them to the renovation of my bicycle. Since I know them now, I will certainly apply them to my personal faith and to the up-building of the church.
Prayer: Teach me patience, Lord, and lead me not to rush the lessons. Amen.