The Slow Lane in a Drive-Thru World

“Wait please…”. The two words that no one wants to hear. I will admit it, I am a product of my culture. I hate waiting. I’d like to think that it has completely to do with the fact that I have spent my entire adult life living in a culture where ‘soon’ better mean ‘very fast’, and ‘immediately’ better mean “before I draw my next breath”.

I was working on a message the other day, that I would soon be preaching at a local church. I was ‘in the zone’ in my preparation, waxing quite eloquently on the necessity of character transformation in the Christian journey. I was particularly focused on the evils of a culture that demands everything immediately and how this tendency works against the needed character quality of patience. Feeling the need for a coffee break, I left for the local McDonald’s mid-afternoon to grab a quick cup of Jo to go. As I pulled up to the drive-thru, I saw a long line of fast foodiots blocking my desire for a quick entrance and exit. I began to verbalize my frustration which sounded something like, “Really?! Really?! What are so many people doing in this line at 2:00pm? I’m going to be stuck here for ten minutes!! Isn’t this supposed to be fast food?! This is ridi…cu…..lous….ous…uh………oh yeah….I was just writing about this….nice Preacher! There’s that practice what you preach thing again!”.

Wait on the Lord. I suspect that those are words that most Christians don’t like to hear either. I don’t mean to make sweeping judgments on all believers, I just know human nature or more accurately, sin nature. Most of us simply do not like to wait for anything…including waiting for Jesus. What is at the root of this tendency? Is it our fast food, ATM, Microwave, High-Speed, zillion cable channel, text messaging, etc, ad nauseum, culture that has turned us all into demanding, agitated, me, me, me consumers? The culture and Madison Avenue certainly do not train us in the virtues of patience. However, I think the root of impatience runs straight to the man in the mirror.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 NIV

Funny how the basic problem with the sin nature hasn’t changed since this dialogue in the Garden of Eden…we want to be our own god. Oh I know it is not politically Christian correct to admit that, after all, we been changed?! Yes we have indeed, praise God, but the serpent rears his head every opportunity he has and the enticement can be so appealing….and destructive!

There are many reasons why it is necessary to wait on the Lord:

  • Logistical reasons. What God is doing on your behalf may take time and the correct circumstances to come about. In those situations, we need to be willing to give God the time necessary to align the events in order to fulfill His plan.
  • To produce Christlike character in us. The process of waiting on Him serves as an antidote to our desire to ‘run the show’ and have things when we want them rather than when God knows it is best.
  • Teach trust. Many times I have struggled with waiting for God’s answer to a particular dilemma because I wasn’t certain that God would work it out with my best interests in mind. Waiting on the Lord leads us to a place where we must choose who or what we will trust. This can be very difficult for those who have been wounded by others.
  • Build our faith. There is an amazing dynamic that takes place in our hearts when we choose to wait on the Lord and He answers us in due season. The saying, “Hindsight is 20/20” is certainly true when we realize that God has heard our cries and prayers and has answered us according to His great wisdom, faithfulness and loving kindness.

In describing the purpose of a holding pattern, Wikipedia states, “The primary use of a holding pattern is delaying aircraft that have arrived at their destination but cannot land yet because of traffic congestion, poor weather, or runway unavailability.” If you have ever had the misfortune of being 30,000 feet above the ground in a holding pattern, it can be a frustrating experience. Many times our life’s circumstances have us feeling as if we are in a never-ending holding pattern. If you are in that place today, take courage in the famous exhortation in God’s eternal word:

Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:26-31 NASB