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Patience & Persistence from Pastor Nicole Woodley

I’m a Madison girl (that’s my mother’s maiden name). My mother and her three sisters grew up helping at their parent’s restaurant. They have a joke when they get impatient about something that goes like this: “I’m a Madison girl, I come from a long line of short order cooks, I want that done...yesterday.” Short order cooks don’t have the privilege of waiting patiently. They have an order and they have the ingredients. Their job is to fix that order in as SHORT a period of time as possible, hence the name.

I could say I come by my impatience honestly. But I have farming in my blood too. My dad grew up in a farm family and my husband is the 4th generation of Woodley farmers. There are parts of farming that require swift action, but as far as I have been able to gather in the 5 years we have worked as Woodley farmers, patience and persistence more accurately describe the top qualities required for the job.

Every year we farm, I am reminded that patience and swift action both have their place, both traits are necessary and helpful. But, more often than not I am reminded I had better know which one is necessary in which moment or my “short order cook” genes take over and I get myself in a huff. I can’t say I’m always good at it; maybe practice helps. I’ve always admired the fact that my husband, born and raised on a farm, seems to know deep in his bones whether items require patience or a quick response.

Our Christian faith is no different. Sometimes God calls us to a long enduring walk that requires patience, endurance and persistence. Other times, God’s call requires action in “short order” fashion.

The Moses project reminded me how much I love Moses’ story as a leader. He wasn’t always a faithful dance partner when God called him. Yet, somehow, Moses led God’s people swiftly to freedom during the Passover, when there wasn’t even time to let bread rise. Within that same swift march to freedom, there was a moment when God called Moses to stop and stand still. There was Moses, with his staff in hand, watching God part the waters and waiting patiently for the exact moment he could let go and let God conquer the Egyptians who were in hot pursuit.

Moses' story reminds me yet again, the only way to know whether patience or swift action is required is to draw near to the One who calls us into action, God himself. I would like to think that with practice, I get better at knowing the difference, but the truth is, this is always a dance and I’m not always a good dance partner. Sometimes I take the lead when I should follow, sometimes I step on toes or lag behind where my dance partner leads. But, no matter how often I stumble, I am reminded that God will not. He is trustworthy and He is faithful. His faithful presence endures forever.

So, in these uncertain times, may we be reminded of God’s patience and presence with us as we learn new dances in these uncertain days. May God make plain when we need to act quickly and when we need to endure with patience in His presence, the one and only certainty that can guide and ground our days.

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