March 24, 1998
A city restaurant offers lunch free if customers have to wait longer than 10 minutes from the time they order to the time it is on their table. We sat with friends discussing the difficulty of waiting. Everyone seems to be time-oriented, busy, always rushing, and increasingly impatient.
One person at the table told a story about a man standing in a slow-moving lineup at his bank. He shuffled from one foot to the other, seething inside. The tellers were pitifully slow. Even the customers seemed to take their time moving ahead when it was their turn. Then he noticed a small sign on the counter: “For every 5 minutes you wait in line, we will put $5 in your account.”
Suddenly he viewed waiting from a different perspective. He relaxed. Slowness was no longer an issue. He even found himself mentally saying “take your time” to both tellers and customers. It was to his advantage that they dawdled.
A different perspective can change our response to other ways of waiting. Waiting on God is one of them. Sometimes we are anxious for His answer to our prayers, for Him to change our circumstances. We feel less anxiety when we look at His view of our problems.
For instance, James 1 tells us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials.” At first read, that is ridiculous statement. Who can face trials with any kind of positive reaction, never mind “pure joy”? But we must not let this strange command make us think God does not care. He has a greater plan in mind than simply giving us relief. James goes on to say trials are His tool to test our faith and produce perseverance. He says if perseverance does its work in us, we will be mature (like Christ) and not lack anything. Therefore, if we can keep His end result in mind, we can face trials as opportunities for our good and even be glad they are happening.
God challenged me when we decided to have my aging parents live in our home. My gifts lie in teaching and although I love my parents, serving them with compassion would be a trial. As my frustrations grew, I prayed asking God why He wanted this for me. His response came quietly to my conscience: “I am using this to make you a better teacher.” After seeing His perspective, it was much easier to cooperate with Him.
Another example that ties with the hurried, impatient pace of current life is the importance of spending time with God. Caught up in hectic doing, many Christians find it difficult to stop and pray or read their Bible. We say we don’t have the time, yet in our hurrying we find ourselves stressed and even exhausted.
The prophet Isaiah offers this: “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Waiting on God means not fretting about life but allowing Him to care for us. To do that, we need to spend time in His Word, learning about His faithfulness and reminding ourselves who He is and how great He is. As we do that, we can face trials with a different vantage point — His.
Spending time with God helps us see our circumstances as part of His plan, not something unfair or meaningless. Waiting on God also helps us find our strength in Him and not in our own resources. Knowing He is in control and that he loves us gives us a sense of peace and renews our energy.
Bank line-ups or impatience for food in a restaurant are small trials but for even these, we can focus our thoughts on the care and purposes of God. The renewal He gives will mean far more to us than a free lunch or an extra few dollars in our account.