Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15-16
In recent years, audiobooks have become somewhat of a staple in my life. Whether I’m on a run, heading to the grocery store, or commuting to work, my phone is always with me, so therefore my books are, too. It’s also super helpful when your books for grad school can be “read” in audio format, if you catch my drift.
I recently finished a memoir about a Canadian Ph.D. student coming to faith while studying at Oxford. It was such a fun book to listen to as the narrator voices a variety of accents depending on which character is talking. It’s actually quite impressive how she effortlessly moves from an English accent to an Irish accent to an American accent—and many more. In one particular conversation, the main character talks with one of her friends about how when we look back on our lives, even before we chose to follow Christ, we can see God’s hand in everything—like He was always there, and we just didn’t know it. The main character says, “True, and yet, why did I not come to know Him until this year?” Her friend responds, “Only God knows. But maybe that’s not the question: maybe the real question at stake is why did He keep trying?”
When those words rang through my ears, my breath stopped, and tears slowly pooled in my eyes. Isn’t that the truth of the matter—He never stops trying. He has infinite patience.
I resonate so deeply with the author and her question. She looked inward, wondering why it took her so long. In contrast, her friend’s question focused on God, helping shift her mind (and mine) from herself to the One that never loses patience and never stops pursuing His own.
In today’s Scripture, Paul instructs us to do the same—to center our eyes on Him. Paul could easily have spent his whole life after turning to Christ, lamenting His past failings. Instead, he shifts his gaze to the redeeming view of His story. God’s limitless patience with him testifies to the non-believers His infinite patience and love for them.
When we shift our gaze from ourselves to Him, instead of self-condemnation, we get the joy of experiencing His heart for us. In turn, we become moved to reflect His heart through our patience with others.
Our view of God is paramount to how we live our lives each day. Set aside some time today for reflection and think back to a time when you thought God had gotten tired of your repeated shortfalls. Replay the situation in your mind but now with the understanding that God’s patience is infinite. How does that shift your view of that time? How does this shift your view of God and yourself?