Thursday, May 08, 2008

Losing My Patience (Or Finding It?)

There's a sentence I'll think twice about before saying again: "I am losing my patience." Because, honestly, I now wonder if I ever really had any. I wonder how much patience you have, either!

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130: 5-6

Key word wait: quvah (Heb: to expect, look patiently, wait upon)

Scripture paints for us the picture of watchmen longing for the first glint of sunlight creeping over the horizon, a visual that would signal for them the end of a sleepless night spent on defensive alert. Only after a prescribed period of time or "shift" can a watchman release his heavy eyes to the freedom of rest. Have you ever pulled an all nighter? Up late studying? Or working into the night on some sort of deadline-driven project? Utterly spent and aching for sleep? Even more than that, Scripture tells us, the psalmist longs for the Lord.

In order to fully appreciate these verses, I suppose one would first need to understand what it really means to wait. In the world in which many of us live today, this sense of waiting becomes more and more abstract, I believe.

In 1922, it would take days by train to chug across the country to visit Grandma.

In 1942, it might take weeks to get a letter to a loved one fighting in Europe.

In 1972, I would have to live with a bad hair style two years as it grew out. (Now, if I have the money, I can get hair extensions!)

In 1982, I would be tapping away at a manual typewriter with a bottle of White-Out nearby. Now, if I make a mistake, the computer tells me about it and I click a fix.

In 1992, I was still waiting for the newspaper to land on my doorstep so I could find out what was going on in the world. Today, I type in "msnbc.com" and learn about events and situations as they occur.

Today, if I want to feed the family a nice home-cooked meal, I don't have to shoot anything or even simmer something for that matter. I pull up to the Boston Market, brandish my credit card, and dinner is served.

So, what's to be patient about? What does that word even mean?

When the Bible tells me to "wait" on God, how can I understand a concept that human experience no longer stringently requires? Mind you, I'd be loathe to go backwards. I like my instant headline news and Boston Market on little league nights. It's a good life. Still, gone are the days of running eagerly to the mailbox to see if that letter from a loved one has arrived. We can check our inboxes, quickly read, and click to an invisible trash can. Makes me wonder if there's something we've lost in the web of progress.

So, as I contemplate this concept of "waiting" on God, I have to wonder if, despite all of our ready access to things spiritual (the entire Bible can be found here: http://www.netbible.org/), if we are at a certain disadvantage as it relates to the ability to appreciate the silent spaces of God's economy--the times we're meant to stand still and simply trust.

Strikes me as a case, frankly, of when more is truly less...

On my iPod... Welcome to Wherever You Are by Bon Jovi

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