WE WERE a motley crew. There was about ten of us living in the Christian rehabilitation Hostel. Most of us had only recently received Jesus as our Saviour and we had come to live full time at the Hostel to deal with our baggage. I had been an alcoholic and had a suitcase full of personality problems for which I was still taking valium. One of the ladies had been a prostitute and some of her past customers occasionally tapped on the windows at night trying to get her to come out. Another guy had been so wild that at one time he had been kept behind bars. His food had been pushed to him under the bars while his carers kept their distance. 40 yrs later I still have the Bible he gave me. There were problems with violence, sexual problems, one guy had spent 30yrs in prison. But there we were, all having asked Jesus into our lives and looking to God to give us a new start.
The Hostel was operated by a group of mature compassionate Christians and was largely reliant on donations to keep operating. Because of this we (the crew) were introduced to the life of faith early in our walk with God. Sometimes there was no money for food and we had to gather together to pray for Gods supply. I and my fellow residents had not discovered the fruit of the Spirit yet and we were less than impressed at having to ask God for our food. We were often angry and irritable. Despite our bad attitudes, God still taught us lessons that, for me anyway, became foundations for our future Christian life.
At one time we were low on just about everything needed for daily living. The staff asked that each of us should ask God privately what He wanted us to believe for. We were then to write it on a blackboard in the Kitchen, keep believing for it and to tick it off when it arrived. Some wrote toothpaste on the blackboard, others soap and personal items and various types of food. I felt God wanted me to believe for green vegetables so I wrote it up on the board. Over time all the items were ticked as having arrived with the exception of my greens. A month or so went by and my greens were still up there for all to see as having not arrived. I thought that to be very unfair and carried about a sullen attitude at being left out.
Three months later it was Christmas time and a few of us were involved in a singing group. I had completely given up on the greens by then though it was still on the blackboard. We were introduced as coming from the Hostel and sung in front of a large crowd in a Church. When the whole event was over and everybody was leaving, a man came over to me and asked me to go with him because he had something to give me. I had never met him before. We went to his car and he opened the boot to reveal 3 of the biggest cabbages I have ever seen, up till then and since. They were about 18 inches accross and so heavy that I could only lift one at a time. Later that day I was very pleased to tick my item off the blackboard.
What I didn't appreciate at the time was that God had taught me an important lesson about the Christian life. 2 Corinthians tells us that ALL the promises of God find there yes and amen in Jesus. But that is only half of it. Hebrews 6v12 says that we are to imitate those who through FAITH and PATIENCE inherit the promises. I still marvel that God saw fit to teach me an important lesson even though He knew that my response would be less than gracious.
Faith is believing the promises we have in the Bible and patience is to be added to our believing until we receive what we are believing for. I still find that difficult to do, I am tempted to get irritated when what I want does not arrive immediately or in a short space of time. The New Testament shows that patience is something that God wants to establish in our personality. It seems to be something with eternal value. In Revelation John says, 'I am your brother in the tribulation, and the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ'. James says, ' knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, but let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, wanting nothing.
The secret of success with God is receiving ALL the promises of God ( we should know them all) by faith, but realising that patience will be required before we get what we want. Have you given up on anything you were believing for? Renew your faith and claim that fruit of the Spirit which is patience.