Well, I’m still waiting for patience. All I’ve got to say is this: God is taking his own sweet time. If patience doesn’t emerge soon, I may just have to complete my life’s journey without it.
As some of you know, I paint. Not useful painting, of course. Not rooms and ceilings and fences, but the other kind: with oils, canvases, and so forth. My wife, Debbie, as you also know, is an accomplished watercolorist. She’s also fairly accomplished on the patience front too. She takes months and years carefully learning techniques from art teachers, practicing, working at the craft of her art. She takes weeks with a single painting. And if it doesn’t come up to her standard, she scraps it and starts over.
I get frustrated if a painting doesn’t emerge quickly and do exactly what I want it to. Paintings that take days, I find especially painful.
I’m taking a tutorial right now with an extraordinary artist. He requires that I submit two pieces in progress for him to critique. For each piece, I need to describe what precisely is challenging me most. I need to estimate how close to finished the painting is. And he requires that we work from a reference photo. I don’t work like that ordinarily. I’m not a by the book painter. My method is to fail and to fail and to fail until what I’m looking for emerges.
Today, I painted by the book. My reference photo is a picture I took at the Met of a painting of the Seine River in winter by Claude Monet. My goal is to produce a painting in my own abstract expressionistic style grounded in the form of Monet’s painting. I painted for four and a half hours today, and would estimate I’m just under half-way finished with the painting.
I’m sort of miserable right now. The painting is not where I want it to be. It is not where it will be this time tomorrow. And I’m having a hard time just letting it be.
I know that Epictetus, my favorite Stoic, once said, “Nothing great is accomplished quickly.” But I still find it annoying that even my mediocrities take so much time.
We have been together, dear friends, for twenty months. It has been a joy and an honor serving as your interim senior pastor. Our search committee for a new senior pastor has been hard at work throughout most of these months. If the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t come along when it did, I’m pretty sure you would have sent me on my way last summer with a handshake and a nice slice of Chantilly cake for the road. But among the many things this pandemic changed was the timeline for our PNC.
They are still hard at work. They are making good progress. But it will still be awhile before they finish their work.
I’m not going to encourage you to pray for patience. You never know what God will do to you if you pray that prayer. But I will encourage you to pray patiently for the wonderful members of our church who are hot on the trail for our next pastor. This committee covets your prayers.
The PNC is doing their work with discipline and care, intelligence, love and imagination. They are taking no short cuts. They will not settle for less than the very best senior pastor for our congregation.
And, as some of you know already, although my second contract will end at the close of December, I’ve promised to stay with you through next Easter to buy the PNC more time.
Nothing great is accomplished quickly. Patient or not, according to our timeline or not, God will bring us God’s choice for our next senior pastor. And quickly or not, that will indeed be great.