We live in a culture where “tolerance” is a buzz word. Employers instruct employees to be “tolerant” of one another’s religions, sexual preferences, lifestyles, etc. There are “tolerance” classes and seminars. Some groups are bashed for being “intolerant” when they don’t agree with the actions or belief systems of another.
Recently, however, God has challenged me on my “tolerance” levels. Particularly when it comes to His will. See, there is a problem with tolerance. It is incomplete. For purposes of the post, let’s use Merriam-Webster definitions of tolerance as “1) capacity to endure pain or hardship; 2a)sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own 2b) the act of allowing something.”
Tolerant people have the mindset of putting up with something.
Now, contrast that with embracing, defined as “1a)to clasp in the arms : hug
1b) cherish, love 2) encircle, enclose 3a to take up especially readily or gladly 3b) to avail oneself of : welcome.
You know the difference. That annoying co-worker who doesn’t understand personal space. The boss who has all of the answers and no people skills. The family member who sucks the life out of family gatherings with complaining, fighting, begging, etc. Those are people we tend to tolerate. You endure them for the sake of enduring- usually because you feel as though you have to do so. And, it is rarely enjoyable.
However, there are those people we embrace. The sweet woman at church who always seems to have the right words to encourage, and if nothing else, a big hug. That friend who has your back – supports you and rebukes you as circumstances warrant it. Your sibling who knows your hopes and dreams, and has been your best friend for as long as you can remember. Your child. Your spouse (hopefully). You want to spend time with them. You treasure it, arrange for it, look forward to it.
Transfer that to God’s will. I have come to realize over the last 2 weeks that I have been tolerating God’s will during this move. It is evident in thoughts like this “You’re God, you’re going to do what You want anyway.” “I moved to Cali to obey You. Isn’t that enough?” “I’m here, but I don’t like it one bit.” Yes, I have obeyed, but I’m just putting up with His plan for now. Sure, I’ll serve as needed. Use my gifts when it is warranted, but underneath it all I simply view it as “enduring pain or hardship”.
He wants me to embrace His will. That does not mean it will not be difficult. That does not mean there will not be times when I want out. But the attitude behind it will not be one of tolerating His will (and thus, Him), but one of embracing – out of love. Because I love Him, I am willing to do what He has called me to. Because of my love for Him I can respond as Paul “I count it all as dung for the sake of knowing Christ” or, like Mary, “May it be to be as you have said.” Or, Christ “Not as I will, but thy will be done.”
I am learning that the distance between tolerance and embracing is a short, four letter walk – LOVE, but it will take a lifetime to fully achieve it. I’m starting my journey today.
Embracing HIM one day at a time,
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