Unlike most folks, I am a patient person. I surprise myself with my own long suffering sometimes. In fact this is largely what made me so good at my job when I was working in the psych hospital. I would say it has a lot to do with my attraction to/from the streets as well.
This doesn’t mean I always have endless patience. I have weaknesses same as any other, except not the same weaknesses generally. I find my patience wears thin at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sometimes I think about that very first night I joined a group at an all night prayer vigil down at Mayhon Library. It did not freeze that night. It was early in the Fall of 2009, but it was damp and cold. I became so desperately miserable around 2 a.m. I toughed it out for a couple hours, but I was praying and looking in those windows of the library at all the books under the security lights kept safe, warm, and dry. I was jealous of the books! This while humanity lay shivering just feet from such comfort.
I began to have a new set of questions that night: How did God’s good world get ordered this way? How can it be that a “Christian” town such as Lubbock keeps the books inside, but lets the image bearer of God languish in the cold and damp just outside that warm, dry space? Where is the Church? Is this not the Church’s flock of lost sheep?
I am actually being liberal in my estimation. I bet these questions came home to roost at about 45 degrees, really, but I like to think I have more patience than that.
My questions were not selfish in nature. The cause I joined that night was not for me. I had a warm bed at home, which I eventually went back to around four in the morning. But the questions went with me. They haunt me still. And since that night, I have slept in a lot colder, wetter, windier conditions many times after sharing worship behind dumpsters, in empty lots, city parks, under “no trespassing” signs, AND out front of locked up church-house doors.
Am I bugging you? Do I wear on your patience?
I remember that Dr. King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he too called on the Church to finally get busy with Our Father’s Business. Yeah, I will claim that great company to be in. After all, that is Jesus out there being neglected yet again tonight, and he ranks a mite higher than Dr. King. Oh yeah. That’s him. He tells you as much when he identifies himself with “the least of these brothers…” (Matt. 25:40). This is the same Jesus who proclaims, “Behold! I stand at the door and knock! If you open up, I will come in and party with you…” (Rev. 3:20).
It’s his knock at the door bugging you; not mine. It’s colder than 40 degrees out there, and that incessant knocking that is wearing on your patience is Jesus! Perhaps you should answer now before his patience runs thin and Judgment comes knocking.