Hurry Up, God! Give Me Patience, Now!
May I make a confession? I’m no good at waiting. I’ve never had a knack for it. If you ask my husband, he’ll agree. There’s not a patient bone in my body. Maybe that’s why I like this quote so much:
Things may come to those who wait,
but only the things left by those who hustle.
—Author Unknown (Often attributed to Abraham Lincoln.)
Whether Lincoln said it or not, I don’t know, but I think it’s brilliant. Here’s another one I like:
Ah, “All things come to those who wait,”
(I say these words to make me glad),
But something answers, soft and sad,
“They come, but often come too late.”
While I do admire genuinely patient people, they tend to make me go a little bonkers inside. My husband, for instance, weighs every decision carefully, slowly and methodically.
He reads the directions before starting a project. He follows the recipe precisely, making sure he has every ingredient before beginning to cook. He checks all 12 eggs in the carton before putting them in the grocery cart. I have to give him plenty of thinking time before making any important decisions.
Perhaps that’s why God sent me to Brazil as a missionary for four years before we were married. It gave Bill plenty of time to decide he wanted to marry me. (We had been friends and even dated some before I went to Brazil.) But it also gave me time to slow down, “fique tranquilo,” and learn to appreciate life at a more relaxed pace in the South American culture.
There I learned that something as natural as looking at my watch could actually be interpreted as a rude gesture if done when visiting with people. And being punctual was much less important than being relational. Living with the Brazilian people, I began to focus less on goals and accomplishing things, and more on people and relationships.
My husband has taught me a lot about patience, too. A few years back he decided he wanted a motorcycle. He needed to learn how to ride one first, so he started practicing in our neighborhood and in a big empty parking lot. Then he took a motorcycle safety course, got his license and kept riding alone until he felt sufficiently skilled to ride with me as a passenger. This was one of those times I didn’t mind his patient approach, since I would be putting my life in his hands.
Eventually we began to enjoy riding the motorcycle together. On our first real adventure, I was totally surprised, not only by how much fun I had, but by how much God revealed to me about myself and life in general while sitting behind my husband as a passenger on that motorcycle.
With our helmets on and Bill in the lead, I could not see directly in front of me. At first I tried to peek around him, looking at the oncoming traffic to see if any dangers were ahead in the road. But it was pointless, and actually rather dangerous for me to lean out and potentially distract my husband with sudden movements. I needed to let go and let him lead. Trust him entirely, blindly, unaware of what lay ahead. I also needed to become one with his movements. Just follow. Um, are you getting the analogy? Does this sound exactly like our walk with God?
It felt completely foreign and unnerving to me. And that’s when God smacked me on the forehead and said, “I’ve been trying to get you to realize this!”
With the same attitude I needed to approach that motorcycle ride, God wanted me to approach life, not just with my husband, but with my Master. I had to quit looking ahead impatiently, let go, and trust him to lead.
As this revelation started to sink in, another insight dawned on me, and this one was just as profound. I relaxed against the backrest without a care or a concern to occupy me, and I started to see the beauty around me.
On either side of the road were lovely, interesting scenes to observe and take pleasure in. So, this is what it means to live in the moment? I thought. Another foreign concept to someone like me who always rushed ahead impatiently. It suddenly occurred to me how much I had missed out on in life.
These motorcycle revelations were huge for me. And every ride after that reinforced the need to apply these principles to my daily life.
God repeatedly said to me, “You must stop only looking forward. Your future is in my hands. I alone know what lies ahead. Trust me with tomorrow. I’ve got it. Simply enjoy my presence today. Enjoy the ride. Be still. Know that I am God. Let me lead you. Try to be one with me. Look at all the beautiful things I’ve placed around you. Now, savor them. Live in this moment. Slow down. Wait for me.”
Patience Is Strength
I began to see that patience wasn’t weakness, but strength.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
—Psalms 27:14, NLT
Patience Is Contentment
I understood, too, that patience not only requires courage but contentment. Much of my impatience in life had been a result of discontentment with God, with myself and with the way things were going.
I’m still learning a lot about patience, and waiting. I wouldn’t say I’ve acquired a knack for it yet. And I still think the best quotes on this topic involve some form of activity. Like this one:
Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow—that is patience. —Author Unknown