Whittling Away at Patience
By Josh Steele
If you ask my wife, she would probably tell you that patience is not one of my greater virtues! Truth is that she would be right. For as long as I can remember, the only time I was ever patient was sitting in a deer stand or turkey blind. Even then, times were trying!
This brings me to one of my newer hobbies. Several years ago, I had been turkey hunting one morning when I found myself seated next to a green field. It was about midday and had been a long and quiet morning. To be quite honest, it was somewhat boring! Well, I found myself searching for something to keep me busy, for I knew "you can’t kill a bird on the couch!" That’s when it all started. I began whittling, and before I realized it, I had whittled my first complete project. It was a small cross that sits atop the letter "K" in a totem pole fashion. You see, my wife was at home almost 9 months pregnant with our first child…a little girl whose name would be Kyleigh! The carving still hangs in her room today.
This started something in me. Soon I found myself chipping away at sticks every time I was in the woods. This past deer season really brought on some new projects. I soon developed a love for whittling cedar. It is a beautiful wood and carves quite easily. I would sit there, concealed in my stand, slowly and cautiously whittling away at the wood. I have always loved crosses and I guess that is why they are the objects that I most often work on. Something about a cross out of the cedar…they are beautiful to say the least!
Now for those of you that have never tried whittling, let me explain. It is an art form that takes lots of practice, a somewhat steady hand, a broad imagination, and most of all patience. You see, if you get in a hurry with your knife, a project that you have been working so hard on may be gone in a matter of seconds. Impatience alone can cause drastic mistakes. The whole time I was doing this, however, there was something that never quite hit me! God had finally found a way to teach me patience, and I didn’t even see it coming. It is truly amazing how things like that happen all in His time and on His terms. As I look back now, I am really happy that God chose this method to teach me.
I often think about Job when I think about patience. Have you ever heard the statement, "He has the patience of Job"? Well, let’s review why. Job was a man of integrity. He feared God and turned away from evil. He was a very rich man with a large family and many possessions. God allowed Satan to test Job not once but twice. The first time God told Satan he could do anything to Job except harm him. So Satan basically destroyed all Job’s possessions including his children. When Satan sought to attack Job a second time, God told him he could do anything but take Job’s life.
After the first test, Job made a profound statement, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) Then he goes on to say, "Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" (Job 2:10) Job truly was a man of integrity. If you continue to read through Job, you will see that, although he goes through the ringer, Job patiently waits as he seeks answers from the Lord.
As I said before, I am glad God chose blessing me with a hobby that I enjoy as a means of teaching me patience, instead of allowing the wrath of Satan. So just remember…… sometimes we don’t even realize that God is trying to teach us something. Keep your eyes open, your mind focused and PATIENTLY await the Lord. He might just be whittling you into His likeness.