Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete. (James 1:2-4 TLB)
One of my favorite treats as a kid was a pot pie. Mom didn’t buy them very often, but I thought they were among the most wonderful things in the world. These weren’t the microwave, done-in-60- seconds hockey pucks in today’s grocery freezer section…and, back then they still came standard with a bottom crust, too. Lots of things were of higher quality before companies decided that they could make more money by giving you less. The wait was sweet agony.
Now that I’m well into my adult years, I make my own everything; so I can’t tell you how the 21st Century pot pie is prepared. Back then, you took a rock solid frozen single-serving pie, punched a few vent holes in the top, put it on a pizza tin, and popped into the oven for probably 45 minutes or so. In my case the 45 minutes probably stretched out to nearer an hour, because I would keep opening the oven door to see how far along the baking had progressed.
Pot pies had a double-indemnity wait clause. First, you had to wait for them to bake all the way through; and then you had to wait again, that much longer, for them to cool off just to be able to eat them. Those of us who had patience for neither would wind up with soggy pie and a burned tongue. Yes, I burned my tongue almost every single time Mom made them.
We are so conditioned, in every aspect of life, to disdain the wait. A letter is an antiquated thing now that we have instant messaging. We order some worthless gadget on the shopping channel, we pay extra so that we don’t have to WAIT. We go into ridiculous debt for things we can’t afford, because laying something away until it’s paid for, why, we’re too good for that! Gotta have it all right now.
Waiting is an art in the spiritual realm, as well; and one that, if you’re like me, is an ongoing process to develop. There is relationship built with God as we wait. There is maturity and strength gained in the struggle that we won’t acquire if we have a microwave mentality. In the pause before the answer to prayer comes to pass, we get to study and observe His process. As we obediently step away from the controls, we come to appreciate His meticulous knack for do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. Quality is yet another reward for learning to wait…because there’s no such thing as rushed perfection.
I once had a coworker who could find a good meal in the most surprising places. His advice to me was this: when you go into a new town, talk to the locals. Ask them where the best place to eat is, and when they offer the usual “tourist dives,” you tell them, “No, not where you send the tourists. Where do YOU go when you want a good meal?” Sometimes those secret gathering places were little hole-in-the-wall basement establishments. Routinely, he would go in, sit down, and instead of taking a menu, asked the cook to surprise him. There’s something about asking a chef to do what he or she does best—create! It’s a welcome, refreshing, thrilling opportunity: to receive a request without restrictions, without picky substitutions, or conditions about how the customer wants the finished product to appear. Because he considered dining to be an event rather than a means to an end, he didn’t care to wait a little longer. The meals, according to him, were almost always something off-the-grid, because he dared trust the one doing the cooking to his or her best judgment.
What huge thing are you asking God to do today, if at all? If you’re not asking for something big, I challenge you to ask Him for what “can’t be done.” Ask Him to change the very person whom everyone around you says cannot or will not ever change. Ask Him for something that brings Him glory, and surrender the how, when, and where to HIM. Give Him an opportunity to roll up His sleeves and reveal what He is REALLY capable of. Ask Him to do great exploits, and don’t set up conditions or a deadline for Him to have to adhere to. We’re so shallow in our asking…we order straight off the menu, asking for the small things which require little if any faith. God wants His children to boldly approach His throne, to ask Him to accomplish what HE wants in the earth. After the asking, He wants us to wait. Oh, He hasn’t lost our request in the shuffle. He hasn’t forgotten or disregarded our prayers as unimportant. He’s just waiting for the time He knows is best to bring it all to pass.
Make your petitions known to your caring Father today. Don’t settle for a watery, freeze-dried, or second-rate blessing just so you can have it sooner. Don’t get burned by trying to take what He’s promised before it has had time to cool down to the perfect moment. There is blessing in the wait. If you can allow Him to bring you His best in His time, it will be so worth the discipline. Right place, right time? Better than the best pot pie you ever ate!