I Tripped on a Snail

There are several posts I have been working on lately. Some word studies, passages of scripture that have been opening up and challenging me, a new series on things in life that I want to begin or to continue to do well. I was going to work on them today until a snail messed up my plans.

Ok maybe “messed up” is a bit extreme. But at the very least it made me stop for a moment and think about what’s important. The thoughts that followed made some of the studies and writting I have been working on seem a bit misplaced for the moment.

I remembered a song from when I was a kid about patience. It was the story of a snail named Herbert. This was the lesson Herbert’s father had for him:

Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient you only start to worry
Remember, remember that God is patient too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you

The snail was crawling across the deck as I was having my meditation time this morning. It would make some progress, wiggle its antennae around, turn its head this way and that, then make a little more progress.  It really did look like something out of a cartoon.  It’s Monday so my meditation time was focused on “peace”. As I prayed for peace in my life, contemplated Herbert’s lesson about patience, and watched the snail slowly make its way forward, a thought came to mind that I couldn’t shake:

Why do I worry over things that are supposed to bring joy to my life?

My children, friendships, family, my home on the lake?  I somehow allow these things to become points of stress and anxiety. At the same time I become numb to things that I could be more “anxious” about: income, a job, food and transportation.  I see an emotional cycle where fear and insecurity drive an inability to effectively care for myself and rob me of the joy that God has delivered to me on a silver platter.

There was a second part to the thought:

Why can I not be patient and, in patience, experience life as God brings it to me instead of as I would have it?

Another snail came to mind. As Jonah sat on a hill watching over the city of Ninivah, God allowed a leafy plant to grow and give him shade.  Just as it got comfortable, God also sent a bug – a snail in my mind for the sake of today’s life lesson – to devour the leaves and kill the plant.  Jonah was indignant. Haw dare this snail take aways what was rightfully his?  He was learning a valuable lesson about God’s inexhaustible traits of grace and mercy. Mercy being that which is deserved but not given and grace being that which is given but not deserved. (I would cite the chapter and verse here, but just read the whole story – big fish and everything. It’s not that long and it all makes more sense in context!)

I’ve been told that I’m a very patient person and that may be true with other people, but rarely if ever am I patient with myself. What is a difficult truth to swallow is that a lack of patience with myself is a result of my need to control my own destiny. It’s a symptom of needing to surrender more and more of the little pieces of life to God.

God is my provider. He does not desire me to be numb to the needs in my life, but rather to knowingly and intentionally trust Him to meet those needs.  In trusting Him, I can free my mind and heart to richly experience the Joys he surrounds me with every day, in that day and not worrying about what they may or may not be tomorrow.

Many people will tell you that you should never pray for patience – God won’t just give it to you but He will find a way to teach it to you. Praying for peace is not much different. It requires patience, it requires grace, it requires mercy. When it comes to peace, however, I don’t see much difference between learning it and having it. Either way I can experience it and that makes it all good in the end.

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