By Rev. Yvette R. Blair-Lavallais
One of the hardest things in following Jesus and being on this spiritual journey is having patience to wait on God. I think one of the reasons is that we live in a culture that promotes a mindset of quick, fast and in a hurry. We rush in and out of fast food eateries, complaining if we have to wait longer than five minutes for our meals. We take our clothes to one-hour cleaners. We want faster Internet service. We think everything should have a drive-thru lane. Nearly everything about the American culture instills in us this sense of having what we want when we want it. It has created a nation of impatient people. When we find ourselves in prayer, waiting for God to take action on something, we sometimes grow tired and frustrated waiting for things to change.
Who has the patience to sit around and wait to see what God is going to do in a situation?
We do. Christians who are faith-filled and faithful should have the patience to do so. The Bible is filled with stories of people who waited on God. Abraham waited to have a son. Moses and the children of Israel waited to get to the Promised Land. Job waited for his life to be restored. Ruth waited with her mother-in-law Naomi for things to get better. In each instance, waiting brought the person closer to God, making them dependent on God.
That’s what patience can do for us. When we stop being impatient with God and learn to be still and know that God is working, our story becomes an inspiration and a testimony for others of the goodness of God. If we stop allowing our American culture to control and dictate our level of patience, steadily condensing our threshold for waiting on God, then we will emerge as more loving and kind people – the way that we were created to be – and God’s plan and purpose for all of us will become evident.
When we become so set on self and our own needs and wants, we unknowingly are removing God from the equation.
What about the level of patience that Jesus exhibited? There could have been countless times when he could have been fed up with the doubting disciples and said enough. But Jesus’ impatience would not have advanced God’s plan for us. That’s right – for us. All of what Jesus did was God’s plan for us and thank God that Jesus had the patience to endure.
So what can we do to be more patient? First, we have to be willing to walk in God’s timing. Secondly, we have to understand that God is growing us through our waiting experience. And thirdly, we have to trust and thank God for what God is doing. Remember the words of Isaiah 40:31: “… those who wait on 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.” Waiting on God produces strength for this faith journey.
The Bible stories are for us to learn how to be patient and walk in God’s timing.
I remember a few years ago when I took my niece driving so she could practice parallel parking. She said to me, “I’ll be glad when I get my license. All I have is my driver’s permit.” She went on to say that when it came time to take her driver’s test, she passed the written part, and all of the driving part, EXCEPT the parallel parking.
Until she learned how to navigate the car to parallel park, she had to wait before she was issued her driver’s license. As she was growing anxious, I told her: “you won’t always drive places that require you to just pull ahead, turn or back up; sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where the only parking space is one that requires you to parallel park. You just have to be patient.” Now she has her license and her own car. The patience paid off!
That’s the same way it is with us. There are some things down the road in life where we’ll have to zig zag around and back our way out of, but if we don’t have the patience to wait for God to prepare us for those situations then we’ll be doing a disservice to ourselves by trying to go on ahead of God.
If you don’t have the patience to wait on God you never get to know God for who God is. You’ll never know God as Jehovah Rohi, my shepherd or Jehovah Tsidkenu, my righteousness. Instead you’ll hear other people talk about God in these terms and have no idea what they mean because you didn’t have the patience to wait through your experiences.
While you are learning to be patient, use that time to pray. Prayer changes things. As you are praying about your situation, God is increasing your level of patience. And in the end, you learn how to walk in God’s timing and to stop being impatient with God.
Rev. Yvette R. Blair-Lavallais is a licensed pastor and an elder in the United Methodist Church. She lives in Dallas with her husband, Rev. Carl M. Lavallais. Look for her forthcoming book, Being Ruth: Pressing Through Life’s Struggles, later this spring.