February 13, 2015
Did you have to wait this past week? If so, how much time disappeared? Were you impatient? Did you believe your time was wasted and someone had imposed their priorities on your life?
Living in modern America’s instantaneous society, the least provocation can inflame impatience. Surveying Scripture, though, I encounter stubborn admonitions to wait – more often than I like.
Waiting is contrary to American values – contrary to what we think is important. Why is that? Waiting is a character builder. Reflect a bit. Isn’t it true that quality of product and character do not inexplicably blow in from heaven to bless our lives at random moments? Rather, these come through long periods of testing, trial, and waiting.
We harm our children’s character when we give them everything they want when they want it. How many children, still in their single-digit years, have you seen packing cell phones around? While the child may feel cool, what about his character development?
Instant gratification yields slightly slower disillusionment. Many times God wants us to wait so He can work on heart internals. He wants to change our perceptions and understandings. When we spent a year and a half in Poulsbo, Washington during a transition time in our lives looking for the next calling or assignment, we endured long periods of time wondering why things weren’t happening. We did not like the waiting, but those slow spaces turned me toward God. I am a different person today because of it.
When I was a teenager, I had my heart set on a new radio from Sears. Now hear this: it was an 11-transistor radio. Wonder of wonders. That enticing pale blue technological marvel, with its (what I thought was a) sturdy black leather cover constantly occupied my mind. One problem: I had to save in order to take it home.
The radio cost about $27. Credit cards existed, but not in my world. It took at least six months for me to hoard enough cash (actual “silver certificates”, by the way) for the cherished purchase. (Now there’s a personal example of the wreckage inflation inflicts on our economy. Twenty-seven dollars was a lot of dough.)
It turned out that part of the joy of getting my radio was the anticipation. It was an exhilarating day when I was able to walk downtown to Sears and fork over the moolah for my new electronic marvel.
We have all seen young children buried under piles of gifts to the point of hapless confusion. When the gift-giving circus winds down, their plaintive young voices query: “Is that all?”
When a middle schooler graduates, and he and his friends are given access to a limousine rented for the night, what expectations will they have when high school graduation looms?
Overindulgent parents pile more and more stuff on their kids at younger and younger ages, thus forfeiting the opportunity to teach them the discipline, anticipation, and joy that come from waiting. While on their misguided mission of “love”, they forfeit future good citizens.
The value of waiting is foreign to our culture. Put me off for 10 minutes, and I’ll probably snap at you. No, make that three minutes. When I want something done, I want it done now. I can push a button and order thousands of dollars worth of glitter to be airdropped on me, and if it’s not here in four days fretfulness follows.
This stunts our character, dims our vision, narrows our perspective, and funnels focus down on ourselves. Doesn’t our unwillingness to wait reveal something about how self-important we feel? Doesn’t it indicate that we believe we are here to be served?
“Teach me, Lord, to wait.”