A beautiful view of the mountains

Many Patiences

I recall many times during my seminary days when my professor would say to us (in Greek but I will translate) “You must have patience, not just patience but many patiences.” Of course in English it sounds silly. You ‘can’t’ have many patiences. You are either patient or not. Truth be told, I have depended upon his advice many times during my ministry.

Each one of us suffers from impatience at one time or another. Some of us even suffer daily. It doesn’t help that we live in an instant gratification society. We don’t even need to leave our home to go to the movies anymore. On the other had we also don’t need to be home to watch our favorite TV show since the advent of the DVR. We are surrounded by either situation when we ‘get what we want when we want it.’

Few things are more dangerous that being impatient when it comes to our spiritual life. It requires time, dedication, and practice to live the Christian life. We grow closer to God daily when we patiently engage the life of the Church. Take a moment and (patiently) read today’s reading from Saint Paul.

Brethren, since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2nd Corinthians 3.12-18

It is the very last verse I want you to notice today. “We are BEING CHANGED….” Saint Paul doesn’t say we were changed or that we will be changed. He says we are BEING changed. That means it takes time to achieve the likeness of God. We are growing closer to Him “from one degree to another,” and that requires……..that’s right. It requires patience.

It doesn’t only require patience. It requires many patiences. Unlike the new sports car that goes from 0 to 100 in thirty seconds, we do not go from fallen to holy overnight. Our spiritual life requires time to develop.

Throughout the Scriptures God uses images of growth and nurturing to describe the process of our salvation. We are seeds that must fall into the fertile soil. We are branches that must be pruned. We are roots that must reach deep. THEN…we are harvested.

If your spiritual life isn’t what you want, don’t give up. Have patience to develop the skills you need to live the Orthodox Christian life and you will grow strong. Don’t look at the holy monastics on the mountain and expect your life to be the same. First of all, you live in the world with different struggles. Second, you didn’t see them when they first arrived at the monastery. Trust your spiritual father to guide you. Don’t just have patience. Have many patiences.

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