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Ancient Testaments: A lesson from the Creation

The earth whirls on its axis every 24 hours. The sun, with so much more to haul around — surpassingly bigger than the earth, and a whole solar system to hold together — is much slower. And it doesn't seem to mind.

The pattern was shown to Abraham: the planet that "is above or greater" in the hierarchy "moveth in order more slow" (Abraham 3:5).

As the Savior said, "he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11). The one who leads the most serves the most. God is the ultimate illustration. But we all get a turn at this pattern.

When we are in charge — holding people together, giving support and order — there are delays. Like the sun, we slow down for those who need us.

The impatient kind of leadership often shows up in public places. Like the irritated parent in a grocery store, jerking a toddler along and carping, "What's the matter with you? Why are you so slow?! Hurry, hurry."

Of course, what's the matter is simply that the child is on a different schedule. Time is reckoned differently when everything that meets the young eye is new and needs to be absorbed. A thoughtful grasp of the world takes time.

But it's easy for the leader to demand that everybody in his or her solar system should go faster than they are able. Rushed, impatient dominion can foster a stressed, unabsorbent, even thoughtless culture on any scale. It can tempt people to leave the system and find an orbit somewhere else.

No wonder a warning flashes at all leaders from the Doctrine and Covenants: "it is the nature and disposition of almost all men … to exercise unrighteous dominion" (121:39).

By contrast, those who carried out the Creation "watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed" (Abraham 4:18). They didn't grab the elements and jerk them around, but called out to them and commanded. In righteous dominion, the Creators watched and waited — peacefully — for the response.

Abraham doesn't speak as if the creation periods were locked in to a schedule. They went on as needed, until everything was "good." Only then did the great enterprise move on.

Sometimes we hear that something or someone "took forever" to arrive, to finish cooking or get built, to boot up or shut down. Of course, it wasn't forever — only a year or a week or a minute, as the case may be. But in God's kind of life, Eternal Life, waiting truly is part of the program forever.

He does a little commanding. He does a lot of waiting. It doesn't make him grumpy or anxious. Real patience is … well, patient. It isn't agony.

The Creation story — no matter how much "time" you suppose it took to unfold — is a story not only about divine wisdom and divine power, but about divine patience.

Even mortal artisans say that if you want to make something fine and beautiful — something to inspire and to last the ages — you shouldn't have a clock in the room.

It is so with building a soul.

Thus, a senior apostle of long ago, describing our path to the "divine nature," lists patience as the step that leads to godliness (2 Peter 1:4-7).

One day at lunch, a grandson removed the vegetables from his plate and stacked them on mine.

"Do vegetables bother you?" I asked.

"They do now," he answered, "but when I grow up they won't."

Waiting can be spinach for the soul. When we grow up, it won't bother us.

Wayne E. Brickey, who lives in Gallatin, Mo., is a retired Church Educational System teacher and curriculum writer and has been a tour guide to the Holy Land and Mormon history sites. His novel "Before His Manger: The Long Wait for Christ's First Coming" can be found in serialized segments on MormonTimes.com.