The clock showed 5:30 am. I could certainly stay in bed for another hour, but I knew better. I had been trying to fall asleep again for the past hour to no avail. So I dragged my tired self out of bed, thanking God for coffee. “Fortunately”, I thought, “I don’t have to wait for an entire pot of java to brew”. About two years ago, I discovered the marvel of one-cup coffee machines. Thank you, Lord.
I hit the power button and waited for the three lights to announce that the machine was ready to brew. I was irritated that it took a whole minute for the welcoming blue lights to start blinking and another 30 seconds to brew my morning delight. “Give it to me now!” I thought to myself.
That’s when it dawned on me: my ability to wait has certainly changed since I moved to America. I remember the shock I experienced on my first American dining experience eighteen years ago. My husband picked me up at the airport and we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. The waiter was at our table in 30 seconds. We were served in 10 minutes. The bill was delivered while our food was still hot on the plates. I felt rushed. Surprised. Outraged, almost. I was used to the Brazilian way, where dining is an event to be savored, enjoyed, relished. We take our time. We talk a lot. Eat a lot. Seize the moment.
Rushing isn’t confined to the United States of America, though. My once laid-back Brazil has also quickly morphed into a fast-paced, impatient society in the past decade. Rushing is not the American way. It’s the millennium way. We want it and we want it now. We rush success, we rush intimacy and, invariably, we rush God.
The problem with the concept is in the very nature of God. God is patient. He can’t be rushed. He does not believe in instant anything. Rather, he believes in process. It takes time to listen to him. It takes effort and time to know him. And, in my experience, he certainly never seems to be in a hurry to deliver his promises.
Waiting is a difficult task. Depending on your personality, it’s nearly impossible. If you are a go-getter like me, it probably kills you not being able to control the timing and outcome of your projects and dreams. Waiting on true love. Waiting on that promotion. Waiting to conceive. It stinks, really. Our flesh screams: “Hurry up with the lesson, already. Just tell me what I need to learn. I’m ready to move on!” However, I believe that the reason for the waiting is often beyond our realm of understanding. Because it’s really not just about us.
In retrospective, I realize that I have often waited on something because the people involved in my prayer request were not ready. Or the situation wasn’t ready. Or I wasn’t ready. I also realize how God has used the time I waited to strengthen me. Mature me. Change me. Change others around me.
Indeed, when we fully grasp that God is a good father, and, as such, he seeks to make us better people…When we realize that the process of waiting is one of his tools to accomplish just that, we stop expecting him to act as a one-cup coffee machine. We understand that the rewards of a life of trust far surpass the gifts we seek. Better yet, we realize that, as long as we listen and obey, he never fails us and always delivers on time.