How PATIENT are you?
During the past few years, my son’s strong arms have helped carry my weekly groceries up our steep driveway. I’d park at the bottom and the two of us would do two or three trips up to our house, carrying a few bags each. This year, though, Asela’s working hours were extended, so he wasn’t around whenever I returned from each grocery shopping spree. I decided it was worth paying for a home delivery.
The first time I tried the service, it didn’t work out quite how I’d anticipated. I had to wait patiently for more than an hour before my phone rang. “Your front door is closed” said an unfamiliar voice. I opened my front door and stood there like an expectant little bird with her beak open, waiting to be fed. I waited. And waited. After 10 minutes, there was still no sign of the truck, so I called back. No answer. Grrr! It was a hot day and I had things to do. What a relief when the man did turn up, groceries and all. Apparently he’d been at the right house number but on the wrong street.
The next time, I asked for a 5-8 p.m. delivery and returned home by 5. I was exhausted but didn’t dare lie down even for 10 minutes in case my groceries arrived. But once again, I played the waiting game. 5 …5.30 …6.00 …6.30 … 7.00. Should I call to check, I wondered. But no—I must be patient. 7.30 … 7.45 …and my patience ran out. I called. Sorry, they said. There had been a mistake. They’d called the number I’d written for them but couldn’t connect. My squiggly handwriting had let me down.
The grocery man (and the goods) finally arrived 15 minutes later, replete with a host of apologies and two large boxes of Lindt chocolates to make up for their lapse. So was it third time lucky, you ask? Not a chance. This time, I printed out my address and phone numbers, so they would read my details correctly. I completed my shopping before 2 p.m. for a 2 – 5 delivery time but had more things to do in the village, so asked if they could deliver at 3 p.m. No problem they said. Ah! But there was a problem.
I was on my way back at 2.30 when my phone rang. I couldn’t answer it because I was driving. I guessed who it might be, of course. Would the delivery man wait? My car screeched to a halt, (not really, I’m just being dramatic) and I pounded up my driveway. “Hello” I said. A man stepped out of a truck.
“I’m sorry you had to wait” I uttered between breaths. “I did ask for a 3 p.m. delivery.”
“That doesn’t work you know. We can’t promise a time.”
“Thanks for waiting” I said, relieved that my groceries hadn’t been whisked away before I arrived.
And what of the fourth time? Believe it or not … it worked. Hooray! No more trudging up our driveway with heavy bags. I think the money’s worth it, don’t you? In this instant age, we often expect too much too soon. We demand perfection of ourselves and of others before we (or they) can deliver (please note the pun!) But growing an Oak tree takes 20 or 30 years. Growing a mature man or woman isn’t any different. Learning life skills, takes an entire lifetime, at least three score years and ten, I reckon. Very few commodities in life turn up perfect, as we snap our fingers. Besides, those times of waiting are often a God-planned part of our journey.
Even God’s answers to our prayers often operate on a different timeline to ours don’t they? I've been praying an earnest prayer for 25 long years. I'm sure God would love to respond with a resounding YES to that prayer, but ... I’m still waiting. Meanwhile, He’s growing me. He's also doing plenty of worthwhile work behind the scenes which only eternity will reveal. I’m fast learning that seasons of waiting are a natural part of God’s order for me and for His world. Who knows, I might be cultivating patience as I wait. Wouldn't that be nice?
Have you been disappointed in yourself and in blunders that you've made? Do forgive yourself. You will get there, you know. Are you impatient about people in your life and the time they're taking to "grow up"? I'm sure they will surprise you one day. So give them time. Are you waiting on God's answers to your heart's cries? God's never in a hurry, I believe. After all, eternity is at His fingertips. But be assured that His answers will arrive. Let’s turn our seasons of waiting to grow deeper roots into the rich soil of kingdom living. Let’s use the extra time to sprout wings, wings that help us fly to new lands of opportunity and freedom. And let's cultivate the fruit of patience in our souls as we wait.
“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32
“Love is patient, love is kind.” 1 Cor 13:4
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7