Aloha Friday Message – August 31, 2012 – Aloha Friday, NOW!!

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Read it online here, please.

Romans 12:12 – Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.

Colossians 1: 11 – We also pray that you will be strengthened with his glorious power so that you will have all the patience and endurance you need.

I read an essay by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in the Hawaii Catholic Herald this week that really gave me a hard kick in the tea kettle. The opening paragraph went like this:

“There’s an adage that says that an atheist is simply someone who cannot grasp metaphor. Thomas Halik, the Czech writer, would suggest rather that an atheist is someone who cannot be patient enough with God.”

He goes on to write later in the essay, “And so we live with a lot of expressed and unexpressed impatience with God. Atheists, it would seem, at a certain point just give up on playing the game and, in essence, say the words: I’ve seen enough; I’ve waited enough; and it’s not enough! I will no longer wait for God! But if atheism is just another way of saying I will no longer wait for God than the opposite is also true: Faith is just another way of saying: I will wait for God. If atheism is impatience, faith is patience.”

I am impatient. I want things to happen. I am the guy who prays, “O Lord my God, teach me patience … and let me learn it NOW!! God you know that I want my son to give up meth and go back to the Church NOW!! Oh, and God, I need you to get my daughter up out of the house and into a job NOW!! You need to get busy and take care of my friend’s idiot husband NOW!! AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, KNOCK OFF THAT NEIGHBOR’S DOG THAT’S BEEN BARKING FOR THE PAST TWO HOURS!! MAKE HIM CHOKE, NOW!! You know, you really need to do something about these inconsiderate people that cut me off on the freeway, too!!! Do it NOW BEFORE THE KILL SOMEONE!! And while you’re at it, what happened to that PATIENCE I asked you for, huh? I see; well, thanks a bunch, God. Not on the menu for today. Fine! Then I guess I’ll just have to put up with this endless barrage of joint and muscle pain until you feel I’ve suffered enough to get your attention!!

Gosh! I hope that’s never happened to you, Beloved! I hope you are NEVER that obnoxious. I regret to say, I have been. I want what I want when I want it. Even though I tell people this all the time, I forget it applies to me, too: God’s timing doesn’t run on our time. It took a close friend just 30 seconds to tell me that, and two seconds after that I realized what a jerk I am when acting like God needs to get caught up with the things on my schedule. Why am I in such a rush? You probably remember this little story that goes around the Internet – The Rosebud:

 
Unfolding the Rose

The Rosebud

A young, new preacher was walking with an older, more seasoned preacher in the garden one day and feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do. He asked the older preacher what was his purpose. The older preacher walked up to a rosebush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals. The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the WILL OF GOD for his life and for his ministry. Because of his high respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to TRY to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact.

It wasn’t long before he realized how impossible it was to do. Noticing the younger preacher’s inability to unfold the rosebud while keeping it intact, the older preacher began to recite the following poem.

UNFOLDING THE ROSEBUD

It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of GOD’s design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers,
Is not known to such as I;
GOD opens this flower so sweetly
When in my hands they fade and die.
If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of GOD’s design;
Then how can I think I have wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?
So I’ll trust in Him for His leading,
Each moment of every day;
I will look to Him for His guidance
Each step of this pilgrim way.
The pathway that lies before me,
Only my Heavenly Father knows;
I’ll trust Him to unfold the moments
Just as He unfolds the rose.

You also remember the story of the boy who tried to help the butterfly out of its chrysalis only to see it die because the struggle of freeing itself  was what made the butterfly’s circulatory system functional. Sometimes what we think we must do is inconsistent with God’s plan. When we realize that we’ve been working against him while all the while insisting we were working with him, we might at times feel embarrassed, or tricked, or even get belligerent with God and say, “Well you could have told me sooner, you know, that I was wasting my time on that!” And then we think, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I talking to HIM like THAT?!” And often we realize we are talking to him like that because he’s been talking to us and we’re not listening.

I listen to God. I know what he sounds like; I’ve heard his voice … well, a couple of times … maybe three. And he knows my voice! Bellowing, pleading, whining, occasionally praising (though I sometimes feel like maybe it comes off more like I’m trying to butter him up). But, yeah, I know what it’s like to hear God speak, and – honestly – I really like it when he does. But to tell you the truth, he’s seemed quieter than usual lately. I know why. It’s because I haven’t shut up long enough for me to listen. I just run up to the Throne, shout my demands, and then rush back to my own Drama-Fest.

In the two verses at the opening of this message, Paul is using the Greek word ὑπομένω hupomeno {hoop-om-en’-o} for “patient” or “patience.” In Strong’s notes, this word is used to denote endure, to tarry behind, to abide, suffer, remain, abide, preserve, and persevere under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ. Looking back at Rolheiser’s statements, not only am I being a jerk, I’m sounding like an atheist jerk! It is time for some serious recalibration. I have been heavy on the advice, slack on the follow-through and strong on the knowledge but weak on the application. I am an atheistic-jerk Pharisee. OUCH! It’s time to look for a better way. Maybe I should pray?

There are nine prayer-points in Paul’s words to the Colossians.

  1. Seek to know God’s will,
  2. Grow in spiritual wisdom,
  3. Honor and please God by
  4. Continually do good, kind things for others, then
  5. Continue to expand your knowledge of God as God more and more so we can …
  6. Be strengthened with God’s glorious power so that we will
  7. Have great patience and endurance, enabling us to
  8. Feel in our hearts and show to others we are full of Christ’s joy, and of course,
  9. We all hope and pray we have the wisdom, courage, and strength to give thanks always.

All believers – and jerk-atheists – have these same basic needs. When you don’t know how to pray for someone, use Paul’s prayer formula as he used it for the Colossians. And speaking of prayer please remember to:

Share-A-Prayer

KG – Peace in body, mind, and spirit while dealing with Satan’s attacks on health, family, friends, and future. Having received insult and abandonment in return for love, this MBN member’s faith is unwavering, and served as the inspiration for today’s message.

TW, and DG’s mom – Gentle hospice and trip to heaven with a special escort from Our Lady.

CF, FO, CW, TM, GW, SC, FR, and may others over the past year battling cancer and other chronic illnesses.

For family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, and anyone we know directly or indirectly who is in the grip of any form of addiction – alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, or any other debilitating abuse – let us ask God to help us be patient as he helps them toward attaining or maintaining sobriety, particularly TO, PB, JJ, CN, CO, and many others we have prayed for this past year.

For jerks, atheists, believers, and well-intentioned souls who just can’t wait for God to do what needs to be done (instead of what we want to be done) – we pray for genuine patience that arises from true faith.

For you and for me, and for all the people we love and especially for all the people who love us despite our weaknesses – God be merciful and forgive us our sins. Lead us into the quiet splendor of your unconditional love and uncompromising grace. Amen.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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