2 Peter 3:3-4a,8-9 – First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised?" But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (NIV)
Preparation and patience — often these two do not go together. Preparation suggests activity, getting things done, perhaps working through a "to do" list. Patience, on the other hand, suggests waiting and, perhaps, slowing down.
Each year, my children and I come up with a different idea for a Christmas gift that we make for family members and friends. We have made Christmas ornaments out of wire and beads. We've rolled candles from sheets of beeswax. We've made fudge and truffles, gingerbread men and bookmarks.
One year, we decided to paint glass ornaments. This involved pouring paint inside the ornaments and swirling it around. We were all prepared with everything we needed, and it was time to get started. There were conversations about patterns and colour combinations, and a great deal of excitement. However, patience was absent from the process. New paint colours were added before the first ones had dried, patterns ran together, and paint pooled at the bottom of the balls. It was still a wet puddle days and days later.
The passage surrounding today's Scripture talks of the second coming of the Lord — a time of judgment and fiery destruction. Those who read the letter are challenged to prepare themselves, despite being surrounded by "scoffers". Throughout all the references to death and destruction, where is the hope? Where is the motivation to put any effort into preparation for His coming? It's in verse 9: "He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." This makes me think of loving parents patiently supporting a child — parents who want their child to succeed.
So what happened to those Christmas ornaments? Did we throw them out and start again? No, we let them dry (sort of!) and gave them as gifts the way they were. Our preparations were not perfect, but the gifts were received with gratitude and patience, particularly when my children handed them over with these instructions: "Don't turn this upside down or the paint might spill into your bag!"
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, as we get ready for our Christmas celebrations, help us to be as patient with others as You are patient with us. Help us to prepare our hearts and minds to be ready to receive the gift of Your Son. In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen.