Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness, and patience.
-- Colossians 3:12
Call it a milestone of age and maturity: it's that longing we all eventually get for "the good old days." They were the times when life was slower, folks knew their neighbors and the world's troubles were thousands of miles away. But maybe like fine wine, memories too get only better with age. There’s actually a book called The Good Old Days: They Were Terrible! And it explains why this so-called Golden Era was only good for a privileged few and how it was unrelentingly difficult for most. Pollution, crime, tainted food and drug addiction were actually common in 19th Century America.
(Some things never seem to change.)
Does this mean that today's Age of Convenience is really the best of times? We live in a 24/7 world of hurry—one of instant communications, Walmart Supercenters and microwave popcorn. And just about anything we want is literally available at the click of a mouse. But take another look and you'll discover that we're not always on the move. Efficiency experts report that on average each day, a person spends an estimated 45 to 62 minutes waiting. That covers common tasks like waiting in line at the bank, waiting at the restaurant for the waiter to take your order, and even waiting for your car to fill up at the gas pump.
That’s about three years of waiting by the time we reach age 70!
It’s a rare soul these days who has the patience to wait. After all, multi-tasking—like texting while watching TV—is actually a coveted life skill. But the fact is that patience doesn’t have to mean wasted time. It’s actually one of the desired characteristics (fruit of the Spirit) that shows that God is really at work in our lives. This concept might be difficult to grasp because the human viewpoint of time differs greatly from that of our Creator. But it’s very biblical. Jesus waited about 30 years before He began His ministry. And 40 years went by before Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt. Maybe the Apostle Peter can put it into perspective:
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends," he wrote. "To the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day."
As Christ-followers, we must understand that what happens while we're waiting is often more important than what we're waiting for. Ask anyone who has spent grueling hours at the hospital contemplating the health and future of a loved one. Did their soul-searching experience bring a closer dependence on God? It should have. After all, it's when we're so humbled and powerless that we realize we can do nothing on our own.
Developing the fruit of patience takes…what else…patience! For Christ-followers, it all starts with sincere prayer for God’s help. None of us can change our outlook and attitude by ourselves. We also need to be intentional about slowing down and detaching ourselves and our families from the world’s demands and urgencies. And as an extra step, we must establish accountability with other Christ-followers. If a trusted believer knows that you have trouble with your patience, she or he will be there when you most need some perspective.
Patience—as the saying goes—is a virtue. But from a biblical perspective, maybe our never-sleep, 24/7 world actually revolves around waiting. Let's therefore make the most of our time in God's Waiting Room—a place where we can look for ways and opportunities to say yes to Him with a sense of expectancy and hope.
"Be still, and know that I am God," He tells us through Psalm 46:10. "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."