the right kind of tolerance

Well, yesterday I was supposed to drive 3 hours on paved roads to a pastors prayer meeting to teach and then drive back home. I ended up driving 4.5 hours partly on not-even-sort-of-paved roads, crossed 3 rivers (I think the same river 3 times) without a bridge (sorry Justin..I forgot my camera...argh!), and taught. On the way back my pastor friend Rosaniel told me of a shortcut on even worse roads that ended up being blocked by a semi trailer that ended up being an hour longer because we had to drive through a forest on a road not much wider than a sidewalk.

Sometimes things turn out differently than you planned. Even in Australia.

I've heard it called a "Contingency Tolerance" - how well you adjust when things don't go as planned. I know some people with a really high Contingency Tolerance. I am not one of those people. By sort of de-facto training I am growing in this regard. Yesterday is an example. Either run with it or get all freaked out. People often say, "Be careful what you pray for" because if you pray for God to help you become more patient you may have a day where He actually helps you develop that characteristic. I now think that is a silly thing to say. I know it's most often said in jest, but I have heard some folks (even myself to myself at times) seriously tell other people to NOT pray and ask God to help make them more patient/kind/generous/forgiving/gracious/humble/faithful/loving for the somewhat puerile reason that it could lead to them have a bad day.

Heaven forbid we ever do anything difficult, right? Heaven forbid I sacrifice the great god Comfort for a little maturity. To quote a favorite theologian of mine, "Good grief."

I've said before that comfort is overrated. But I think it may be worshiped instead. We gear our lives for comfort. Ease of use. Remote controls. Laptop computers. Drive through. Phones that surf the internet, take pictures, play games and plan your day. We trust technology more than the God of creation. More even than our own brains. The spell-check on Blogger wants me to capitalize internet and yet doesn't even have Blogger in it's lexicon. Spiritually, I wonder how far we are from the fatty floating-lounger people of WALL-e. Just floating to church. Floating to work. Spiritually doing almost nothing and becoming quite fat and lethargic in the process.

Yesterday I was tired. Really tired. I woke up at 4 after the kids had gotten up at 11 and 1:30. Before I got up to teach we had a 15 minute private prayer time where we all knelt on the floor next to benches. I prayed for 5 minutes and then fell asleep. Just like the disciples in the garden. And I'm human. We all are. Which means I'm weak and get sleepy. I snoozed for maybe a minute or two, but woke up refreshed and really excited to teach where before I was not all that excited because I was just...tired. God uses our weakness. Teaching energizes me. I mean really it does. In 3 minutes I went from being asleep with my head bowed on a bench to feeling so alive I wanted to hop around.

I think hard days can be a little like that - energizing. Now, when they are over, we're often beat. But we have learned from it. We've grown. Maybe we've been grown is a better way to say it, but we've been...uncomfortable. And we're better for it. And when our Contingency Tolerance is stretched, we're able to run with things a little better and in our flexibility and maturity find a little more joy. When we get stretched, we find we have a little more breathing room, a little

At least that's how it is with me.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like "Haiti roads" to me. Glad you arrived home safely. Guess we need to keep praying. I think you and Ian will always inspire us to keep praying for you'll no matter how old you are. Of course now we have added your families. (glad my mama kept praying for all her children all her life. don't actually know if my father ever did)
I think God knew you needed that short "power nap"

Anonymous said...

had to post anonymous, kept telling me I had the wrong pass word. I didn't. ???? Go figure.

Rob said...

Well said Brandon. I often feel like the Wall-e guy that needs a robot to help me back onto my chair. Now I want to know who is going to spoon feed Scripture to me, but for some reason, my iPhone isn't doing it. Plus, no matter how much I think about it, the poor are not being fed. Hmmm... I think I would call it the wrong kind of tolerance... This just isn't who Christ called us to be.

Mike Messerli said...

great post, Brandon. Thanks for the stories, but what are you doing in Australia?

Brandon and Jenny said...

Haha. It was a reference to "Alexander and the terrible, horrible no good very bad day."