It was an extra-heavy trash bag, due to the many notebooks I threw away, the journals of my three years in Ethiopia.
I had perused them, retrieved some bits, and all the rest was thrown away, and I am relieved.
Page after page in those notebooks recorded irritation, grumbling, criticism, and demands. Kinda sickening.
Why did God put up with that? I wonder.
There were so many wonderful things about living in Ethiopia; I have a lovely photo book to prove it. I wish I could show it to you.
But good riddance to all that self-centered impatience in those journals.
Our first Christmas in Ethiopia, we were living in the capitol city of Addis Abeba, and we had a few weeks break from language school.
I had not taken any Christmas-y decorations with us so I welcomed the artificial tree and the box of odds and ends that our thoughtful neighbors gave us. It helped so much to have that beautiful green tablecloth, some candles and little knick-knacks.
I enjoyed decorating that tree for Christmas. She was large, the tallest tree we’d ever had, and she stood proud in the great room of our apartment, by the back door.
With some children helpers, I made ornaments, paper chains, and ribbon streamers for her. I tied a silver Ethiopian Orthodox cross to the top for the star.
I loved that tree. She symbolized the gifts of neighbors and she invited me to worship God.
The Cross-Star on her head helped me meditate on Christ’s Death and Birth together and the red and white ribbons hanging down her sides represented the banners that will fly when Jesus returns as King.
She was a special tree.
One day, when the back door was open, like it often was in the warm weather there, a little sparrow-like bird flew in and perched itself right in the middle of our artificial Christmas tree.
Isn’t that funny?
Didn’t he know it was a fake tree? Shouldn’t the ornaments have made him nervous? Was he thinking about making a nest there?
I left the door open so he could leave, but he didn’t seem to notice. He stayed with us all day and the next.
Sometimes he would fly up to the ceiling or over to the window, but then retreat back to the tree.
Eventually we had to chase him around with a broom and a towel to shoo him outside where he belonged.
Then I cleaned up all the poop.
I was patient with that bird . . . up to a point.
I am patient with people . . . up to a point.
My patience is deficient. Limited. Short.
But God’s is not.
He not only puts up with my grumbling, he accepts and forgives me.
Over and over.
He is indeed God Most Patient.
Advent, these days before Christmas, we celebrate the end of the past Wait for The Messiah: Jesus came!
At the same time we acknowledge our need for patience in the now Wait for our King: He is coming back!
Advent is the perfect time to worship God for His great patience.
I am doing that, and I am asking Him to change me. Jesus, please make me patient like You.
I wish it were as easy as taking out the trash.