Wait Problems

waitSlow internet connections. Lines four deep at Walmart. Anything beyond two-day shipping. Buffering YouTube videos. Diets that don’t work over the weekend. Stories that stretch beyond 140 characters. Pizza that doesn’t arrive in 15 minutes. These are some of the things that madden the impatient mob living in the early 21st century.

Technology, be it the latest ride-share app or most hip streaming video interface, has added exceptional convenience to our lives, but it has also succeeded in fostering imprudence and igniting an unquenchable thirst for instant gratification. “Delay” has become a filthy, four-letter word and “please hold” a curse. We have a “wait problem” that has nothing to do with calorie intake.

But putting iPhones and Androids aside (perish the thought, I know), life is more about patience than it is immediate amusement, and some of the most rewarding experiences in life “come only to those who wait.” Education, true love, a successful business, good whiskey, growing up to become a well-adjusted, moral citizen: None of these things can be microwaved or delivered by next day air.

Faith is no different. Believing in God (not just clinging to a particular outcome you hope for) requires patience, as God is not enslaved by our our modern technologies and doesn’t seem even remotely interested in our timetables. We must trust – for the long haul – and relegate the outcome to God.

An example is that of a farmer. In the spring of the year he or she will break open the soil where seeds will be planted. For weeks on end the farmer must wait. No, he or she isn’t idle. If you think that, then you have never farmed or even had a backyard garden. There is tilling, fertilizing, cultivating, watering, watching, and nurturing to be done.

But the farmer doesn’t go out to the field every day and knock the dirt off the seeds to inspect them: The crop would never mature. He or she doesn’t pull all the buds or the blossoms off too early: That would destroy the eventual harvest. The farmer must wait, trusting the earth, air, and weather to do its good work. It’s not an instant download. It is patience, trust, and faith.

Investing is another such example. Today, if you invested $1,000 for your great-grandchildren in the S&P 500, based on the historical average, by the time they had children of their own, that initial $1,000 will have grown to a fortune of over $2 million. But that’s only possible by leaving the investment where it is; weathering the ups and downs; refusing to give up when everything is horrendous or quickly cashing out when everything is great.

Faith is no less than that. You stick with God, in the words of Katie Luther, “like a burr in a topcoat,” refusing to give up, resisting that natural impatience we all have, and accepting that some things – the very best things – are not obtained by either ease or shortcut.

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