A few weeks ago, I went to a major retail store which was advertising an after-Christmas clearance sale. As my manner is, being the purchaser for my wife's "eBay" business, I was looking for really good bargains. I was not impressed with the sale and didn't get anything. But, before I left, I went back and looked at their actual Christmas decorations and other pure Holiday paraphernalia. Everything was 70% off including many name brand items.
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I called my wife and we decided to wait for a better deal. Last week I happened by the same store and saw that the prices had been lowered a little bit. Again, the obvious decision was to wait. The store sent out a flyer advertising a special sale yesterday and today. Try as I might, I could not get there yesterday. So, today I rearranged my schedule and got there when the store opened at 9:00 this morning.
The stock people were just finishing up putting special price stickers on the "stuff" I had first looked at weeks ago. Before the doors opened this morning, they had marked every item down dramatically. Added on top of that was the store offering 40% off. I was able to purchase many items that were on average about 5% of the original MSRP! Needless to say, when my wife saw all the "stuff", she was thrilled, for it will allow her to carve out a niche in a specialized market next fall.
The point of this little story is very simple. One of the hardest things to do in life is to WAIT. Whether it is at a traffic signal, a checkout line or congested traffic on the freeway; waiting is both aggravating and nerve wracking at times. Our culture has bred into us the "got to have it now" mentality that makes things like patience very difficult to practice.
Many times throughout the Old Testament God exhorted His people to "wait on Him". To wait on the Lord implies that He is running slower than WE expected. And that is precisely what our problem is. In our minds, the Lord is late and thus we have to wait on Him. Now, no one will come right out and say they feel this way, but in our minds, that is what we are thinking.
GOD IS NEVER LATE. Let me repeat that; GOD IS NEVER LATE. Contrary to what we think, GOD IS NEVER LATE in anything. He operates on His schedule, and many times His schedule doesn't coincide with ours. Not too many years ago, I would have "jumped" at the 70% sale thinking it was a good thing. Indeed, 70% is a fine sale, but 95% is a much better one. The only way to enjoy the 95% sale was to WAIT for it to take place.
Impatience gets all of us into many difficult situations. In just about any category, the minute someone "loses patience" or gets tired of waiting; disaster usually strikes. It is an extreme lesson in humility to honestly stop and think about how many times we have totally messed up situations through our impatience. Impatience is the breeding ground for making those notorious "snap decisions" we all tend to deeply regret later.
Think of your last "bad day". It might be today or it might have been a week ago. Whenever it was, think about how it got so bad. Most people do not literally get out of bed on the wrong side. Yet, if a person wakes up late, and starts rushing around right off the bat; usually the day will not turn out well. Once behind, it seems that in the course of a day, we never get caught up. Call it "Murphy's Law" or whatever; the principle implies that if something can go wrong; it will.
Nothing gets us in more trouble faster than when we throw the little tantrum in our minds and justify to ourselves that losing patience is allowable. As noble as this sounds to us at times, it is usually wrong. The Bible is full of examples of people who exercised extreme patience and some who suffered the consequences of being impatient.
Let me ask you a question. Can you find one place in any of the four Gospels where Jesus Christ was in a hurry? I have looked and I cannot find any record indicating he ever felt compelled to "be there yesterday", or "get it done, NOW", or "I can't afford to be late" or any of the other things we hear and say hundreds of times a day. To the contrary, Jesus was so "laid back" it is almost incomprehensible to imagine how "unpressured" he was during his life.
Nothing seemed to faze the man. He took things in stride because he knew all would be well and that all the stress in the world wouldn't fix a problem or fix it any faster. Think about the night when he and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee and a bad storm came up. The disciples all freaked out and starting making their "last wills and testaments", for they all knew they were going to die. What was Jesus doing while the storm was raging? HE WAS SLEEPING! He wasn't the least bit concerned about what was going on around them for he knew his authority and power was greater than the elements outside.
Near the end of Jesus ministry as they were walking along the dusty road, word reached Jesus that his dear friend Lazarus had died. If ever there should have been a time Jesus wanted to get somewhere in a hurry, it should have been to see Lazarus before he died or to get to the house quickly afterwards. As he drew near, one of Lazarus sisters came out to lay the inevitable "guilt rap" on Jesus by telling him if he would have just hurried up and gotten there sooner, Lazarus could still be alive. Even when Jesus reached the house, the other sister quietly said the same thing.
From a sense knowledge point of view, the two sisters were right. But, Jesus did not live and minister according to the senses realm. He trusted God to live supernaturally. After he spent a little time alone and wept, he mustered his faith and listened to his Father in heaven who told him to raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus obeyed and with the same authority as he used to calm the storm, he commanded Lazarus to "Come forth", and he did.
We lose patience when we lose sight of the reality that "God is in control" of everything and not us. We get stressed out and reach breaking points mentally when we forget that we are NOT God. If there is one lesson we all need to be reminded of DAILY, it is that we must slow down and quit trying to do God's job in our lives. A truly great man had this to say about all the great men and women of faith in the Bible: "These people knew who God was and they knew who they were, and they never got the two mixed up."
Trust implies taking a step back and allowing God to handle things on His timetable and in His way. I learned a lifetime ago that one of the best ways to approach life is through the "open or shut door" test. Follow the open door and most of the time you are fine. Attempt to unlock closed doors and most of the time all you find on the other side is a huge mistake. God will open doors to lead us where He wants us to go. He will also close doors to keep us out of trouble. We get ourselves into deep trouble when we call the local locksmith, order a load of TNT or call the SWAT team in with a battering ram to one way or another get that stupid locked door opened.
If God shuts a door, somewhere He has opened another one. Patience dictates waiting on that open door, no matter how long it takes to either open or for us to find it. Elijah had to spend years waiting for the door to open to ever confront Ahab and the prophets of Baal. David had to live as a caveman for years upon years waiting for the door to open so he could actually be the king God called him to be. Abraham wandered in the desert for years waiting for door to open where he could settle down and enjoy the promises God gave him.
Noah had to endure all the years of scorn and ridicule while building his boat before he was vindicated by the flood. He then had to endure all those months cooped up with stinking animals on that boat waiting for the waters to recede. Joseph had to wait in prison for God's timing to be right before Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted and God could finally get him into the position He always wanted him to be in. Moses had to spend 40 years tending sheep in the wilderness before God appeared to him in a burning bush. Then, after finally getting the people out of Egypt, he got to spend 40 more years making a trip that should have lasted a week while millions of people died.
Jesus had to wait 30 years before it was time for him to embark on his ministry. For 30 years he had to be content to be a carpenter before he could do what God had ordained him to do all along. Paul had to spend almost three years rotting in a prison before it was finally time to go to Rome. Once he was finally there, he had to live under house arrest another two and one half years. "My ways are not your ways, saith the Lord." We must never forget this. We must never allow ourselves to lose patience or demand the Lord do things according to OUR plans or timetables.
God not only knows WHAT is best, He knows WHEN the best time for anything really is. Trust demands not only allowing God to DO what is best, but also to allow Him to do it WHEN it is best. We work ourselves into anxiety attacks, mental breakdowns and physical sickness by either worrying about things we should "roll over" to the Lord, or getting all stressed out over timing issues. Remember, GOD IS NEVER LATE, no matter what OUR watch says.
Anxiety, stress and mental pressure are part of life and have to be dealt with through consciously allowing God to do His job on HIS timetable. We MUST slow down, breathe and learn to wait on the Lord. If we don't, then we will succumb to the relentless pressures placed upon us by employers, bill collectors, teachers, children, spouses or ourselves. We will end up speeding to get somewhere faster we never needed to be at to begin with. We will end up knocking down doors thinking there is a pot of gold on the other side. Unfortunately, the only thing there is usually a pot of beans.
God can indeed lead us to the "95%" off sales in life if we allow HIM to direct our paths. God can raise the Lazarus' in our lives if we but slow down and allow HIM to do what only He can do. God can keep us peaceful in the midst of the worst storm in history if we allow HIM to calm the winds and lead our little ship to the quiet waters of the safe harbor. Please, slow down, calm down and if need be "break down" and through the brokenness of humble faith, allow God to be who He is, GOD; and do things according to HIS timetable and not ours.