“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”
– Psalm 40:1
There’s an old joke about a man praying to God. “God?” he asked. “Yes?” the Lord replied. “Can I ask a question?” “Of course, go right ahead,” God said. “God, what is a million years to you?” the man asked. “Why, a million years to me is only a second,” God answered. “Hmm,” the man wondered. Then he asked, “God, what is a million dollars worth to you?” To which God answered, “A million dollars to me is as a penny.” The man thought for a moment. “God,” he asked, “can I have a penny?” “Sure!” God replied. “Just a second.”
I’ve never had a big issue with God’s willingness to hear my pleas, nor his assurance to deliver on his promises. My problem has always been trusting his timing. In fact, the biggest blunders I’ve made in my life have almost all been the result of impatience. Instead of waiting patiently for the Lord, I tend to jump the gun and take matters into my own hands, which usually turns out to be a disaster, like the time I became overly anxious for a promotion in my career and jumped the gun, taking another position that instead of advancing my career almost wrecked it.
Waiting patiently for the Lord, however, does not mean putting our lives in neutral and wandering aimlessly wishing something would happen. No, it is about knowing something will happen, just not the exact timing, and in the meantime to continue to prepare ourselves.
A bewildered young man once entered the seating area of a train station where he noticed a large sign on the wall. “WAITING ROOM – NO LOITERING,” it said. Isn’t that a contradiction, he thought? Except the waiting room is for those who have a ticket, know where they’re going, and expect the train to eventually show up; whereas loiterers have no ticket, no destination, wandering aimlessly with no expectation. The young man had shown up prepared, with a fully-paid ticket to a specific destination, expecting that the train would eventually show up and take him there.
Older and wiser now – and after many blunders – the words of the Psalmist are slowly starting to sink in, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”