Patience for the Fullness of Time

We’ve all done. it. We’ve gone down our lists and we’ve gone up and down every aisle of the grocery store, picking and choosing so very carefully what we would like to take home with us. The experience has been great until we turn the corner and take in the four-buggy-deep lines at the three open checkout counters. We stomp our feet, groan, and mumble something under our breath. Of course, we have more of a right to check out before all of these other people. Hooligans! Why do they even need to be at the grocery store anyway?! They don’t need food like we do!

We have places to be, people need us, the world will stop spinning until we get through this line and out of this store.

Feverishly, we try to calculate which line is moving the fastest, which clerk is the scanning champion. We choose a line and decide to check our smartphones to see the latest twitter, Facebook, or instagram feed since we have to stand here and wait.

AND THEN, NO! NO! The woman in front of us has the audacity to use coupons and…pay with cash and yes, she is counting out the forty-seven cents. Seriously? Didn’t they invent check cards for this very reason?

Finally, it’s our time, and OF COURSE, it’s time for the shift change, and you have to wait while the cashiers swap out the cash drawers.

We huff and puff and complain and mutter under our breath and are extremely short with the new chatty cashier.

Finally, out the door, we swear we will come on a different day, at a different time. We will never wait in line again. Or better yet, forget grocery shopping, they invented online shopping and store pickup for this very reason. We just don’t have the patience to wait.

In fact, people rarely have patience for anything anymore

It’s the curse of the 21st century, we are an instantaneous society now, nearly everything can be ready for us in an instant.

We’ve got instant oatmeal, instant coffee, and even instant rice. If something takes longer than two minutes to make, we don’t have time for it. We use to have to take our film into the kodak store and wait for them to develop it. Now our pictures are on our screens the moment we take them.

With the advancements of technology, we are in contact with the globe 24/7. As soon as something occurs, it is instantly put up on the internet and the news spreads worldwide. News happening in Europe can be on our screens in the United States mere minutes after it transpires. Because of this our patience has severely been shortened. We don’t like waiting in lines, we don’t like being put on hold, we don’t appreciate being told to wait for any sort of answer for a few days from any establishment. We want what we want, exactly when we want it.

And it’s wonderful that everything is available instantly except it’s changed our expectations dramatically. We’ve lost all concept of patience, one of the Fruits of the Spirit. We’ve lost the concept of waiting on God’s timing. And sometimes God tells us to wait. At times, waiting for something is a very good thing because in waiting we can truly establish why it is we want something, and why it is we need something. Waiting allows time for preparation. Waiting slows us down in this busy world and helps us turn our attention back toward the Lord. When we rush, rush, rush, we can’t truly focus our hearts and attention on God. We can’t truly be hearing His voice.

You know the verse, “Be still,  and know that I am God” (Psalsm 46:10a). It doesn’t say, HURRY and you’ll know that I am God. It says to be still.

Maybe, just maybe, some of those moments we have to wait for something, are moments we can choose to be still. Instead of fretting when you’re waiting, take a minute or two and be still with the Lord.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalms 37:7a).

Our lack of patience and our need to rush has wreaked havoc on many of our prayer lives.

God’s time schedule is not our time schedule. We pray and expect an answer from the Lord instantly, but when He doesn’t answer, we get frustrated, and grow despondent. We decide to take matters into our hands completely forgetting God has His own timing and reasons. Even though He might not answer when we think He should, He still hears our prayers. And honestly, sometimes, we aren’t ready for the answer God is preparing for us. We are too self-focused instead of God-focused, and in the waiting time, God can prepare us to receive the answer He is preparing exactly for us. God loves us and knows us each individually. And like a parent to a child, He knows and sees what we cannot see.

Think back to the Old Testament when God promised He would send a Savior to come and redeem the world. People kept watching and waiting and couldn’t understand why it was taking so long. Many even gave up and began mocking the idea. But God had a perfect plan. He knew when the exact right moment was in human history to send His son Jesus Christ to die. He brought everything together for just the right moment. The Roman empire, Herod, the census, Joseph, Mary, the disciples, the Roman roads, Judas, Pontius Pilate. Everything came together at exactly the right moment.

So take a moment, and be still. Slow down. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and build patience in your life. Who knows what experiences you’re missing in rushing around. God has a perfect plan for each of us, and we grow frustrated when it isn’t happening exactly as we think it should or when it should. Allow God to work things out in the fullness of His time.

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:7-10

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