And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
After Sunday school, one morning, little Perry Hubbard stood on the church lawn waiting impatiently for his parents who were talking with another couple. Several times, Perry tugged on his mother’s arm. “Let’s go,” he complained. His mother whispered, “In a few minutes.” She put her arm firmly around Perry’s shoulders and ignored his tugging. “Let’s go!” Perry repeated. His mother told him again to wait. So, Perry tried a new tactic. “If we don’t go right now, I’m going to put my jacket over my head and run into the wall.“ His mother pretended not to hear as Perry wriggled out of her grasp. Then, Perry did just what he said he would do. He covered his head with his jacket and ran full-speed, head first, into the church’s brick outer wall. Of course, that got his parents’ attention, and not in a good way. An emergency room visit and ten stitches later, Perry lay in his bed at home, badly bruised, hurting, with an ice pack on his head. Kids do strange things to get their parents attention.
Adults can act like children, too, when they think that God is ignoring their requests. Take the Israelites, for example. They weren’t always a patient group. When Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from God, the Israelites felt annoyed. “Where is he?” they complained. “Come on. Let’s get going!” Finally, they lost faith in Moses and God’s leadership, and they resorted in desperation to their own way. They made a golden calf and worshipped it believing that somehow it would get them out of the desert quicker and into the Promised Land. The outcome was similar to Perry’s, it only hurt them, and it made Moses and God angry.
Because we humans are worldly, when we ask for something we expect immediate results. “Dear God, if I go to church every Sunday and really pay attention to the sermons, will that get my prayers answered sooner? How about if I read the Bible an hour every day, or pray extra long? What if I volunteer at my church, or give more money in the offering, will that get Your attention?” And after we’ve tried all these strategies and God still seems to ignore our asking, we might resort to: “Okay, God, if you’re not going to pay attention to me, then I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands and do something!” And it’s that something, that act of rebellion and desperation, that gets us into trouble.
In psalm 37:7-8, David writes: Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him . . . Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. (NIV)
This blog, God is in the Compost Pile, exists to show that God is in all things—and that means that He is in our impatience and even in our rebellion. When we run blindly ahead of Him and hit a brick wall, we know that He will take whatever mess we have made and shape it into something that glorifies Him. Through the failing of our own patience, God can teach us that He is capable of working for us and in us, in spite of us.
Joni Eareckson Tada once said, “The times we find ourselves having to wait for others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait for the Lord.”Learning patience does not make God act faster, but patience always makes the delay more bearable. It creates an inner attitude that helps us to be calm rather than annoyed while we wait.