Our culture doesn’t look pretty when we within it are told we have to wait. For over a half-century we have unwittingly created for ourselves one fundamental life’s goal – fulfill desire right now! This is not to say that this goal did not inspire invention and design prior to the 60s. After all, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). In my lifetime, however, the explosion of technology, as well as higher standards of living have intensified our inborn impatience. As the decades roll past, it is becoming rather apparent to me that our desire for immediate gratification has become the proverbial cart before the horse.
Need to eat something? No time to make it? Great—there are always pre-prepared meals. Need something to wear, but have no time to sew it? Not a problem–ready-to-wear fashion. Want an item but have no money to spend? Don’t deny yourself–pay on credit. The list goes on and on, and with the advent of home computers, cyberspace travel and mobile devices, the sky is literally the limit on how fast we can fulfill the almost endless desires within us.
Of course the more impatient we get, the quicker we need to fulfil our desire. Our consumeristic society is ready, willing, and able to keep developing new ways to cater to our growing impatience. The spiral continues at lightning speed and it creates a vacuum that draws in not only our consumeristic lusts, but many other aspects of life as well.
As a Christ follower, I have noticed this in myself. I have this mindset, one that for the most part I can be completely blind to, that demands that my desires be fulfilled quickly in my walk with Christ. We hear the term “running the race” (1 Cor. 9:24), and we instantly want to be transported to the finish line without ever having to pound the pavement under the sweltering sun or in the pelting rain in order to get there. We hear “die to self” (Luke 9:23, Mark, 8:35, Matt. 10:38) and we start praying that this die-to- self-thing will hurry up and happen so we can be changed…today. We hear, “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), and we get everyone we know to pray that trouble will go…now. I mean how long do we really need to suffer anyway?
I am not saying that we should not pray for such things, for our prayer should be without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), and we have been instructed that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Tim 2:1). Nevertheless the Lord has been teaching me… slowly, that fast is not always the best of teachers. Of course, He reserves the right to provide miraculous, speedy change at any time, to any of His children, and for His own purposes (Is. 55:8), but from my observation it seems that for the most part “one step at a time, one day at a time, day in day out, year after year” is His usual method of sanctification.
In the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, we find three very key terms that we in the “instant generation” cannot avoid. “Love is patient …Love does not insist on its own way … and Love endures all things.” I can limit my exposure to 1 Corinthians 13 to weddings and love songs all I like, but it does not change what it is really saying to me. If we are to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind and love your neighbour as yourself“ (Luke 10:27), then we must be patient under His sovereignty, submit our agendas to His authority, and wait enduringly for the mighty hand of God to move in our lives, circumstances, and relationships.
It is in the working of the clay that the potter creates a dish (Isaiah 64:8). It is in the cleaning of the pot that the washer makes it fit for use (2 Tim. 2:21). And it is in the brushing of paint on a canvas that a masterpiece is fashioned (Ephesians 2:10). Working, cleaning, and brushing are all action words requiring movement. None of them assume instantaneous completion. Sanctification is a process. (2 Cor. 3:18)
When we want it now, we not only dethrone our God and His sovereignty, but we also take the crown for ourselves. We put our own lives at the center and send the Living God to the corner. Our focus changes to self and our fear of the Lord corrodes to arrogance. Not only do we cheat the Lord of His glory and honour, but we miss out on qualities being birthed in us that we can possess through the Spirit in no other way. James 1:2-4 sums it up beautifully. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We may not like to wait, but as we see we often must. We can be confident that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The fruit of waiting has untold sweetness. This is true not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those who see Christ living in us. For this reason we must lay our sinful impatience at the foot of the cross, knowing that “the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him”(Lam. 3:25).
My friends, “we may be sure of this, that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). It is His work that we must submit to, His timing that determines our completion, and if it takes one day or 20,000, we must patiently wait for our Lord to fulfill it.
So today, let us abandon our impatience, pray that we will grow in steadfastness, and in submission to His will. Let us tie up our shoes for the journey of a lifetime, no matter how long that may be.