By the time most of us reach adulthood, we’ve probably spent numerous hours in waiting rooms. Waiting room. Now there’s an appropriate name, right? And who waits in waiting rooms? Patients! Even though it’s spelled differently, that’s a pretty appropriate word. Most of us like to know how our time is going to be spent. If something is supposed to take an hour, we can get a little irritated when the hour comes and goes. What about lines? Whether you’re standing in line at the grocery store, or stuck in the middle of hundreds of cars on a freeway, waiting can be a challenge to our cheery nature.
Patience is one of those virtues God instructs us to develop in our walk with him. In 1st Corinthians 13 patience is mentioned in a description of love: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, … Romans 12:12 says further: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
Certainly the pandemic we find ourselves in the middle of has strained our patience. “I can’t wait” seems to be a constant theme in our discussions. People say things like, “I can’t wait until I don’t have to wear this mask,” I can’t wait until everything is back to normal,” and “I can’t wait for all this to be over.” No matter what the issue is in our lives, there’s no doubt patience will continue to be a lesson we have to brush up on. If you’re like me, while you’re busy relearning it, one of the people you’ll have to be most patient with is yourself.
God, thank you for being patient with me, one of your many works in progress. Help me replace my impatience with prayers you’ve yet to answer with gratitude for those you have.
Here’s another family story. When I was six or seven years old I went to school with a pocket watch I’d been given. I don’t know if it was a birthday, Christmas, or just because you’re you and I want to give you this watch present, but I do know it went to school with me. One other thing I know is it didn’t return home. Ever. Instead, it went home with another boy. Before you get the wrong idea, let me assure you there was no coercion involved. No bullying whatsoever. Really, the circumstances of this incident provide more questions that answers. Why did it end up with another boy? Why didn’t some responsible adult intervene and make sure I got it back? Why don’t I remember getting in trouble? I remember being in quite a bit of hot water over almost burning down our barn (but that’s a story for another day). A lot of things that happen in our young lives don’t age very well. That is, if we retain anything at all, it’s only the highlights. All I remember about the watch story is when I got home from school it was discovered I no longer had my watch. When asked why, I said I’d given it to another boy (his name has been lost within the sands of history). Next question, “Why did you give it to him?” My reply? “He said, ‘please.'” That’s right, I gave it to him because he said, “please.” In my little head it was like, please pass the salt, or please scoot to the right because I can’t see the pastor. I’d been taught that please was the magic word, and I’d bought it. Entirely.
As a believer, haven’t there been times when you’ve wished you could use the magic word with God? Hey God, I did say please. Right? And didn’t you say that whatever we ask in your name, you would do it? I was listening to a Francis Chan sermon the other day. He made the point that if God said yes to everything he and his young friends asked back in the day, there would be a lot of guys married to Farrah Fawcett. There’s a country song titled, “Unanswered Prayers.” Thing is, they’re all answered. Sometimes the answer is, yes. Sometimes the answer is, no. Sometimes the answer is, not yet. Then again, sometimes the answer is, you couldn’t afford the price of her hair stylist.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples…” John 15:5-8 ESV
I think a lot of Christians like to highlight the ask whatever you wish part and somehow pass over what happens to those who claim to follow Him (or abide) and those who don’t. To our real peril we ignore the tremendous downside to allowing ourselves to become a dried up useless branch. Ask yourself, “Is my Father glorified in this?” God knows you, He knows what you need and He also knows how you can best be used. Seeking His will is a worthy lifetime pursuit that isn’t easy, but you probably already know the best work never is, right?
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV
Time is enough when it’s our Father’s, but never enough when it’s only ours. God best knows the right time for planting as He knows for harvest and flower.
Time, you’re politically conservative,
moving the reverse of NASCAR,
all right hand turns,
and no lefts.
And Time, you’re
You’re stuck in a rut.
Now think, Time, if you were freed from my clock,
not chained to my night stand as a home for my Ipod dock,
what marvelous change you could make.
Yeah! You could make a break,
pull up stakes
and wave your hands in the face of convention.
Sleep on what I’ve said, Time.
Don’t be alarmed if I wake up before you do tomorrow.
Think of a day
as a moment harvest,
gathered nuggets of time
nourishing moments you pick from the field
of your day.
Gather them in a big cloth sack,
then spread them out when the sun goes down
put them on a scale
to see what they weigh.
Waking up next to your wife.
Quiet time with God.
A hot cup of coffee.
The sun coming up.
Time spent with men you respect.
Reading a good book.
A drive to work (bonus *with your daughter*)
A call from a friend thanking you for advice.
Playing with your dog.
Admiring your garden.
Dinner with your family.
Time to think and write.
Time to rest, recuperate,
If I continue looking at all my days
as moments harvested
just like that,
I imagine the only thing
I’ll ever need
is a bigger and stronger
you’ve got to hand it to time
to the second hand
a moment to ponder
if it’s the quickest
why do we call it the second hand
and not the first?
why is the minute hand the longest
when the hour hand has the biggest job to do?
such a vital subject with so much to say and do
there’s never quite enough of it to hold on to
it cries out from our wrist and table wall and oven clock
it even manages to talk
tick tock tick tock tick tock
we try to
we go over it
we hold meetings
to consider it
it never goes to sleep
we can’t hold it tight enough to keep
our grave stones mark it
between our beginning
and our end
but weren’t we once a gleam
in our parents’ eyes?
was it then?
such an artificial construct
the little brother