A Cup of Tea

Have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t pray for patience because God will test it when you do?” Patience is the one virtue I can never seem to find adequate amounts of and the one thing God continually brings to the forefront of my studies or daily devotion. I realized a long time ago that perhaps the victory was not necessarily in concurring patience, but in the lessons learned long the way.

I think patience is achieved over the course of a life time. I am much more patient in my forties than I was in high school or in my twenties. In my thirties, with a house full of four young children, the limits of my patience was tested. Now at forty-three I am realizing that patience has little to do with the actual circumstance and everything to do with my reaction to what is going on around me. Patience is not only a virtue, it is a choice. Finding the joy in every moment, priceless.

As we continue to look at the book of Colossians, I want to focus on two scriptures in chapter one.

Colossians 1:10-11 (NKJV)

10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

Colossians 1:10-12(MSG)

9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Colossians 1:10-11 (GW)

10 We ask this so that you will live the kind of lives that prove you belong to the Lord. Then you will want to please him in every way as you grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about God. 11 We ask him to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy.

Colossians 1:10-11 (NIRV)

10 Then you will be able to lead a life that is worthy of the Lord. We pray that you will please him in every way. So we want you to bear fruit in every good thing you do. We pray that you will grow to know God better. 11 We want you to be very strong, in keeping with his glorious power. We want you to be patient. We pray that you will never give up.

As I ponder these scriptures this morning, I am particularly drawn to the God’s Word translation that says We ask him to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy.

Putting into words the images that come to mind when I read God’s Word is sometimes difficult. I can see the idea in my mind’s eye but verbalizing that image can be elusive. Today that is not the case. When I read verse 11 the words endure everything with joy jumped off the page and into my mind’s eye vividly. I saw two scenarios, one was a coffee shop bustling with people and activity. Customers ordering, barristas frantically preparing the complex concoctions that the customer has asked for, others are working on laptops, studying or reading, while still others are engaged in conversation. The atmosphere is supercharged with activity and as the caffeine hits the system, causing the conversations to become louder and the adrenaline to pump harder, your brain shifts into hyperdrive trying to process all that is going on around you.

The second scene is a much more serene corner tea shop. The calming music, the fresh flowers on small cafe tables for two, the wicker furniture and lavender scent in the air cause an immediate exhale as you walk through the door. It’s an oasis from the loud, crazy, caffeinated world outside. Here you are able to sit and enjoy the relaxation of simply being still, with or with out a good book, with or without a good friend, but definitely while sipping a soothing cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cup of coffee. It’s my morning kick start and most days than not, my afternoon pick me up. A good, strong, not bitter cup of coffee simply makes me smile. Sharing it with friends, even better. The caffeine kicks in and my synapses start firing on all cylinders and I feel I can tackle the world and wear high heels while I do it! But I have to admit that I love a great cup of tea too. And more often than not, that tea will be enjoyed alone. Almost as if I am treasuring each sip and the relaxation it brings to my soul, wanting no one or nothing to disturb the moment. (America seems to be one of the few places in the world that an afternoon tea time is not the norm. Perhaps we could learn much from the cultures who take a moment during each day to exhale.) Enjoying a hot cup of tea brings me joy. Not because of the tea itself, but because I force myself to take a moment to breathe, allowing the busyness to fade away for just a moment. In that brief moment I am recharged and reminded to endure with joy. What good is there is being impatient and expecting everyone to be on my time schedule, do things the way I think they should be done, or only see the value in my own opinion. There is no room for personal growth or enduring patience  with an attitude like that.

I think Paul’s reminder to the Colossian church is still valid today. In his masterful opening of this letter to the Colossae people, he is so encouraging. The news of their good works for God had reached his ears and he wants them to know that it is their acts of kindness that define his prayers for them. Can you imagine having a hero in the faith write you a personal letter that encourages you to keep reaching out in love because that love is making a difference?! Personally asking God to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy.

I encourage you today to fix yourself a soothing cup of hot tea, find a relaxing spot and take a moment to let God calm you, energize you and bring things into focus, so you can patiently endure with joy all that comes your way.

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