June 23, 2017
Numbers 14:18 - The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.
I don't remember if the story I'm going to share with you is real or not. I do know it was told to me by one of my parochial school kindergarten teachers about 35 years ago. It was winter in Minnesota, and boots and mittens were a necessity. Thirty-five years ago, without this stretchable rubber stuff, putting on boots was a struggle, a struggle the teacher did daily, without complaint.
It was only when she had almost wiggled and worked the second boot on one of her students that he commented, "Teacher, I think my boots are on the wrong foot." Sure enough, they were.
This has been a long day the teacher thought to herself. It didn't get shorter as she took the boots off.
With a heaven-sent prayer, she started the process all over again. When finished, she helped her student to his feet. The boy looked down and said, "Teacher, these aren't my boots."
In a calm, well-controlled tone the teacher whispered through clenched teeth: "Oh, I'm sorry, dear. Maybe that's why they went on so hard. Let's get them off and put your boots on."
Only after the boots were off did the boy comment, "These boots are my brothers. Mom said that I had to wear them today."
The Bible doesn't say so, but I have to believe there is a special place in heaven for people like that teacher who knelt down and struggled to slide those boots on one more time.
When finished, with a sense of satisfaction, she looked at her student and asked, "Now, where are your mittens?"
He replied, "I didn't want to lose them so I stuffed them into the toes of my boots."
The subject for this devotion is patience.
Now it's true, I have been blessed to actually know people like that kindergarten teacher. To say that they are precious and rare is hardly an overstatement. Sadly, most people do not have that quality. Road rage, being upset with slow-moving lines at banks, grocery stores, and fast-food joints -- all point to the fact that one of the most common of human attributes is impatience.
In contrast to humankind, we have our Lord. His dealing with us is defined by the psalmist in the passage above. In that verse, I encourage you to note two things:
1. The first part of the verse says "The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression." His desire to have all come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved is of prime importance. To make this possibility a reality, the Father sent His Son into the world to be the single sacrifice who would balance the scale of justice and save all who are called by the Holy Spirit. Patiently, the Lord waits for repentant hearts to be made.
2. The second part of the verse reminds us not to think God's long-suffering patience is the same thing as being forever suffering. God's grace holds out salvation to all believe, but His justice demands that those who reject His Son will, themselves, be cast out into darkness. In short, the day is coming when the Lord's patience will be at an end.
But that won't be a problem for you, will it? That's because you wait patiently for Jesus' return.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are times when we grow impatient with life, Your people, and even with You. For impatience which is out of control or inappropriate, I ask Your forgiveness and ask for a deeper appreciation of Your patience with me. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries