by Kelly Pontsler, Major –
Patience is a virtue! However, I’m not sure it is really one of my best ones. There is nothing worse than getting caught in a long line of people with full shopping carts, when I only have three things to buy. There are days when waiting for my computer to run its start up sequence drives me to despair. How is it that a few minutes can feel so long?
Now before you shake your head and let out a tsk tsk, let me reassure you that I have improved over time! One of the first (and best) pieces of advice that I received when I landed in Kinshasa, to start my first term of service in Africa, was this: always carry something to read! Whether waiting in a government office for stamps on travel documents, or sitting in the corps waiting for the Sunday meeting to begin, having something to read or some paper to write a letter, helped to pass the time. To this day I often carry a magazine, book or newspaper in my backpack. Just in case.
As I write this, I am sitting in the back of Merrill Hall on the Asilomar Conference Grounds. We are well into the second day of the 2008 Western Bible Conference. As a patience-challenged person, the anticipation of this event reached a peak about three days before the conference. I could hardly wait to get going! I love to see sparks of ideas take on form and volume. And it has been a privilege for me to have a part in bringing the WBC to life. But about last Wednesday my thought was just: enough planning, let’s get on with it! And what a start we have had. It is good for God’s people to sit down together, to reflect on his word and enjoy rich fellowship. And I am having a great time!
Since the moment I woke up this morning, a song has been running around in my head: “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord…” Wait upon the Lord. That seems to be the thread running through my thoughts and reading in the last week.
“Wait upon the Lord…” We are well trained, clock-watching people. Time is money. Things to do, places to go, people to see. It is hugely tempting to try to put the Lord on our time schedule. “The conference is starting today, Lord…blessings expected at 9 pm…10-4, over and out.”
Waiting for most of us is about use of time. Our impatience builds when we sense that our time is being wasted. We could make better use of it doing something else, someplace else, with someone else.
I looked up the word “wait” in my Bible software a few minutes ago. In the New International Version it appears 89 times. In the Amplified Version it is used 118 times! That’s a lot of waiting! Interestingly, very few of those references have anything to do with a clock!
Waiting upon the Lord is not about a schedule. It is not about accomplishing my wish list or fulfilling my dreams on the day I designate. It’s about slowing down and going off the clock, and letting God’s plan unfold in my life at his pace. It’s about hope and confidence, which in turn give me strength and…believe it or not, patience. When I trust the Lord with the plan, his timing is always the right timing. And that lets me off the worry hook.
How’s your patience these days? Need some more? Maybe it’s time to wait!