By your patience, possess your soul said Jesus in Luke 19:20 after warning his followers of persecution and hard times. The phrase possess your soul really hit me. After all, my husband was laid off unexpectedly a couple weeks ago and if anything, I have not felt in possession of myself. Angry, frustrated, and disappointed, yes. Patient? Not particularly.
We seem to be living in times where possessing your soul or exhibiting patience is no longer a virtue. The talking heads on cable news interrupt and berate each other nightly, their main purpose to inflame their audience. Patience does not get ratings. Losing it nightly in front of cameras does.
But in the face of this setback, I have had to reevaluate patience. I had not thought of it before in terms of possessing my soul. Owning myself. Acting from a place of love, power, and soundness of mind. I admit most people think of me has a patient person. People often remark on my calmness, not realizing perhaps that it was some patience mixed with a lot of dissociation. It is easy to be patient when you are in denial.
But I have gotten a lot of healing. I feel my emotions pretty strongly now. And I have some gaps in the practice of patience. The week before my husband got laid off, we had to attend a company picnic. The previously charming men he worked for were stilted and awkward. At the time, I felt strangely out of place. Before, at a company dinner, I had felt so welcome. Looking back, I recognized they had made the decision to downsize and hadn’t told us yet.
And I got ticked. It felt a bit sadistic, really. For a couple days, I really steamed. Though in retrospect, I imagine his bosses felt as awkward as I did. The reality is that my husband had done his job so well, they saw their company more clearly than ever. And chose not to grow. Their prerogative.
But patience brings peace and I wanted mine back. I could give you a list of how to practice patience. Really it is just mindfulness, acceptance and perseverance. Instead, I want to give you two images that help me back away from the exasperation and the anxiety. The first is something my father once said to my oldest after a mission trip to Thailand.
If any of you have ever been to Thailand, you know that it is brutal on the women. Because polygamy is practiced, there is a constant tension between the first and second wives. The husbands often turn on the first wives because they have aged. She saw a lot of bruises on the faces and bodies of women there and it wrecked her.
As she sat in our living room, sobbing out her pain at what she saw, my father took her onto his lap. He said to her Look. Do you think Jesus is overwhelmed by what is happening in Thailand? He is there in the midst of all that suffering, and He has peace to offer. He isn’t afraid. He loves and waits. That is what we are called to do. Love and wait.
With those words, he restored peace to her… and to me. Whenever I get overwhelmed or frustrated, I remember that Jesus possesses His soul. He isn’t afraid or intimidated by circumstances or people. He holds justice in His righteous right hand, justice that I can rely on.
The second image is from a dance lesson I had a long time ago. The instructor had us balance on one foot and hold that position. All of us soon toppled over, wobbly from the beginning. Fix your eyes on a point in front of you. That will keep you from falling, she said. Skeptical at first, I gave it a shot. I kept my eyes on a spot about ten feet in front of me and concentrated on holding my gaze. I barely noticed that I held my position far longer than I would have thought possible.
That is what we must do. Jesus is in the midst and we must fix our eyes on Him to keep from toppling. The winds of adversity are always on full blast. They rarely relent. They just shift direction. But my job isn’t to focus on troubles. I will just lose my balance that way. I will forget to possess my soul.
I used to constantly sing the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. The second line always got me. Look full in His wonderful face. If we do this, then the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
Jobs and career moves, while pretty crucial, are among the things of this world. I know that God will take care of us. I could write fifteen blog posts on the various miracles of provision He has wrought. Once, we didn’t have enough money to move our stuff from California to his new job. A horrible hail storm dented our car all over. Sounds bad, right?
Actually, we got a check for the $8000 we needed to move our stuff. So we drove The Car of a Thousand Dents for a few years. We had our stuff back and could feel at home.
So how to possess your soul? Keep your eyes on the Lover of that soul, the one who created it. Don’t waver. Jesus can handle every situation. All you have to do is love. And wait.
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