I’m not good at waiting. I never have been. Impatience being a blight on my character since an early age. However, as I’ve gotten older and become a more responsible human being I have learned some degree of patience, particularly in the more overt situations such as waiting in line at Sainsbury’s checkout and not jumping in with the answer in a pub quiz. Unwise if the answer is wrong because pub quizzers are a competitive lot and if you are the reason a round is lost, woe betide you.
Where I continue to struggle (and it is a daily battle) is waiting for direction about a certain issue, request, or concern from the One I’ve made it my life’s commitment to follow. Being able to sit at Jesus’ feet, surrendering everything and waiting patiently for the answer has never been in my gene pool. I can sit and pour out my heart to Him, and I do, regularly. I can even let it all go, briefly. But the hard truth is, I inevitably end up taking everything back when the next wave hits. It’s not that I don’t trust Jesus, it’s just that I feel I can get the result I need quicker if I help move things along. After all, what’s God given common sense for?
A stark object lesson for me in this was when I recently tried to sell my house. I said, “Lord, I’ll do whatever you want, but just tell me.” A reasonable request given the people renting it had given notice and were happily moving on. Circumstances, scripture and good old Christian council all seemed to line up, so I stepped out and put my God-given-total-blessing of a house on the market. A previous offer suggested that it would sell just fine.
It didn’t. Four months later it was still sitting empty and winter was fast approaching. So I enquired again, “Lord, I’ll do whatever you want, but just tell me.” I gave a deadline by which time I needed an offer to be made on the house and waited. Not one viewing during that time. So I put the house up for rent again and it was let within three days.
“Did I hear you right, Lord?” I enquired. “I never told you to sell in the first place,” came the reply. Rolling my eyes heavenward I had to admit that was true enough. Fears about meeting mortgage payments and letting agent issues had lead me turn all the sign posts towards my preferred direction. What I was actually saying was, “Right Lord, you are in the driving seat, but just take the next left for me.”
As a child brought up in a children’s home, fighting my corner and working things out for myself was paramount to my survival. Losing control of a situation seemed foolhardy, not to mention downright irresponsible. It’s not that I am a control-freak, but having contingency plans seemed seemed prudent then. But is it now as a child of God?
As the great prophet Jeremiah declared, “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure— not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.” (Jeremiah 10:23-24 NIV)