I have noticed that when I pray for the increase of a particular virtue, I am granted that request through the opportunity to practice that virtue. Case in point: Last December I made the decision to enroll in the Masters of Biblical Theology Program. I could hardly contain myself when I received word that I was accepted into the program in March, especially since returning to school to learn theology has been dream of mine for about a decade. Though school wouldn't start until the last week in September, in my anxiousness to commence my studies, I purchased a laptop computer in May, and in earnest, began to prepare for my return to college. I often lamented the fact that there wasn't a summer reading list that I could delve into (though my pastor half-humoredly said that all I really needed to read was the Bible...it is a SCRIPTURAL theology degree program, after all). I was so excited to start classes and drove down to campus for my first class, only to find out that it had been postponed for three hours (a wait I could not make because of other scheduled appointments that day). Deflated but not defeated, I decided to look at the bright side. At least the first class would be posted online within 24-48 hours and I could get caught up in time to attend the second session "in house." Funny thing, though, that class was not posted until the night before the next session. By golly, I was not going to have enough time to complete the viewing and homework before the next session. I was also told that one of the classes I wanted to take was being postponed until next quarter and was offered another class (of course, that class was being held at a time I was not able to make on campus). No big deal, I thought. I could easily take up that class online too. Maybe there was a silver lining in that I could study everything in my jammies and not worry about being called on by the teacher (I don't like being put on the spot).
Now here's where the patience part comes in. Four weeks have gone by since the start of the quarter and I have discovered that there's no telling when my classes will post. It appears that there's a technical glitch which is out of the university's control at the moment. I was stressed about getting started. Even perturbed and feeling downright put out. After all, I could not wait until school began and I did pay a hefty sum to the school when I signed the enrollment agreement. But, after some internal grumbling, I came to the realization that I was being given EXACTLY what I have been praying for...patience, in the form of praticing it. How else is one to learn patience if there is no opporutnity to apply it. Without the chance to become skilled at being patient, the virtue becomes merely a shallow definition, an intellectual exercise with no experience to make it real and permanent.
So, I am resigned to leave it all in God's hands and in His time. If indeed it is He who is calling me to know and love Him better, He will provide ALL I need, even if it's not to my expectations or liking. After all, I really do have an eternity to get to know Him.