Daily Worship

When you can’t see the wood for the trees

Jane Denniston December 12, 2023 2 3
Image credit: Unsplash
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2 Peter 3: 8-15a (NRSVA)

8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. 

I once heard someone suggest that God’s watch was always five minutes slow. If you find, as I do, that waiting can be difficult, you will probably agree with that. God’s timing may be perfect but sometimes it feels a bit too precipitous for (our) comfort. God’s patience is infinite — ours not so much. I recently read this reflection by Carlo Carretto (1910-1998), a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, a community of contemplatives:

‘God does not hurry over things; time is his, not mine. And I, little creature, a man, have been called to be transformed into God by sharing his life. And what transforms me is the charity which he pours into my heart. Love transforms me slowly into God.’

Being transformed into God is a slow business. A lot of transformation needs to take place for most of us. Thankfully, even if we are sometimes not very patient with God, he is always patient with us. Jesus promised us life abundant. Abundant life, contrary to the world’s view, is not a life full of possessions, rather it is a life full of love; love for God, love for others, love for ourselves. Sometimes we can be carried away by seemingly overwhelming concerns of this world. Perhaps this Advent, this time of preparation, of waiting, of patience, we can take more time out from the preparation for celebrations with friends and family to prepare our hearts for his coming once again, to prepare our hearts afresh for his transformation in our lives. Perhaps this Advent we can take time to look at the big picture, forget about the trees and contemplate the wood.




Patient God,

thank you that your patience is everlasting;

forgive us for our impatience.

When we can't see the wood for the trees

help us to trust that you can.

Help us to understand

that waiting on you

real, positive, prayerful waiting

is much more productive

much more powerful,

than running around in frantic activity.

Help us to see things from your perspective

and rise above our own small concerns.

Help us to take time to open our hearts afresh to you,

more fully to you, this Advent,

that we may be transformed, Amen