Hurry up and wait often seems to be the theme of my life, and I have to remind myself of the multitude of scriptures that encourage us to wait upon the Lord. I turn on my computer and want instant responses from people around the world; or I hop on a plane for a five-hour trip across the continent, moaning all the while about the lines at the airport, the uncomfortable seating, the trip that seems to take forever… It’s easy to forget the snail mail of my youth and become impatient with the few businesses that require a check in the mail instead of an easy online payment; or my grandmother who could recall traveling across Nebraska in a covered wagon.
In slower times were people more patient? Did my ancestors who were farmers have a better handle on the truth of James 5:7?
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
Maybe…or maybe not. I think of Abraham and Sarah who were not willing to wait for God’s promise and tried to speed things up; and the world is still reeling from the error of that decision as tensions between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael continue to escalate. Or then there’s King Saul, God’s anointed choice to lead Israel, who became impatient and decided not to wait for Samuel but offered his own sacrifice—effectively putting an end to the reign of himself and his heirs.
Hurry up and wait remains a theme in all of our lives. It’s the rush to get in those college applications and then be forced to wait months for the responses. It’s the expectant mom who has readied the nursery and feels like she’s about to explode, but her child is two weeks late—the longest two weeks of that mother’s life! It’s the person who is unemployed, rushing to apply to job after job, enduring one disappointment after another as the bills pile up and the bank account shrinks. Or it’s as simple as driving like crazy to make it on time to a doctor’s appointment, only to be kept waiting for an hour.
My life has been consumed for the last several months with a hurry up and wait situation. While far from home, I was hospitalized for an acute condition and was advised to consider major surgery with my personal physicians. It was a scramble to see several doctors and make a very difficult decision whether to do it or not. Finally, with the decision made to go ahead, there were a staggering number of tasks to complete before I could even consider a surgery date, but I was finally on the schedule for last Wednesday. But wouldn’t you know? Three days before, I was hit with virulent cold virus that required the surgery to be postponed for another week—such timing since it’s been almost three years since I’ve even had the hint of a cold. So here I sit, writing on Monday morning, once again anticipating surgery on Wednesday. Will I finally be able to just get this over with? I certainly hope so, but I’m not counting on it this time. I finally just gave up last week and told the Lord that it’s His problem—not mine, and I wait to see what happens next. It’s comforting to know that He is in control, and that even as I wait He is faithful.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:24-26
I recall the advice we give to our kids as they learn to cross a street, “Stop, look and listen.” We must stop rushing blindly ahead, look to Jesus, and listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit.