You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5: 8

 

James has just drawn a picture of patience as seen in the way that Palestinian farmers are dependant upon the cycle of the spring and fall rainy seasons for planting and for harvesting their crops. So too, God’s people are called to be patient so that we wait upon the cycles of God’s own plan. There is no easy way out of this life, and we cannot anticipate a quick and painless release from the burdens of relationship with our fellow worldly travelers. We live with absolute certainty of Christ’s return, but we have absolutely no knowledge of when that might come about.

 

Thus, we are to live as if it will happen in the next moment. This means that we are to stay continually submitted to Christ so that His love, grace, mercy, and peace are presented to everyone that we interact with throughout our days. This last hours of the final day attitude also means that we are to spare nothing in our efforts to repair damaged and broken relationships and that we can trust Christ to care for us when we make ourselves vulnerable to others. Another element of a heart that is set or established upon Christ in these days is that it breaks for the lost and is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of gaining their souls.

 

Christ wants for His followers to live in the full and complete hope of His promised return. In order to do this we are to be people who know our Lord well. We grow in this knowledge by means of on-going study of God’s word that is accompanied by meditation and contemplation upon what it is actually saying. Our relationship with God is further developed as we gather with other followers of Christ as His body and share life, worship, and prayer together in community. Additionally, we know God as we go out into our world and demonstrate to its inhabitants the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To me, this life of meditation on God’s word, prayer, life in Christ’s body, and acting upon the Lord’s calling for my life is the description of a heart that is established on Christ; so, this is what being patient in Him is all about.

You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5: 8

 

It takes real strength to stay calm and peaceful when there is so much turmoil happening all around us. A level of courage that is supernatural is required if we are to discover and to actually be filled with joy when the chaos that is caused by the tornado like wind which ensues from turmoil hits us squarely in the face. We are left in a state where we are knocked down, driven to shelter, and using all of our energy to pick up the rubble and clear away the debris that was our orderly universe a few moments before.

 

As I have heard throughout my life, preparedness is the key to handling these kinds of events. For it seems that even the toughest of situations are made more manageable when they were anticipated and survival skills were practiced, supplies were stored up, and a plan for restoration of what was damaged has been created. When God tells us to strengthen our hearts He is, in fact, saying that He doesn’t want us to be caught unprepared when life’s storms come at us. Christ is my reliable Savior in and through all, God’s word is my guide book and map to safety, and my community of faith is always with me to hold me up, to dig me out when the walls fall in, and to shine a bright light onto the path to the safety of higher ground.

 

Like all exercise plans, the one that gets us ready to stay strong in this life requires commitment, real and personal ownership of the desire to change, and an understanding of the fact that transformation happens slowly. Thus, if I am going to stick with it until lasting results are achieved, I need to be patient with the process and trust that the Lord will take me to the place where I need to go. Then, when the storm winds hit, I can turn toward them, face into the fury, and even know joy as I delight in the presence of the Spirit of the Lord in their midst.