They say that patience is a virtue, but it's often hard to be very virtuous and put our impatience on hold. Everything happens in God's time, which often seems out of synch with our perception of time. Good things that we're anticipating can't happen fast enough. And things that we're dreading -- well, we'd just rather not deal with them at all. Yet God has a purpose and a plan to His timing that frequently isn't apparent to us until after an event has passed. And then, His timing makes perfect sense.
We live in a society that is accustomed to instant gratification. True, technology has made numerous extraordinary advances. Yet it has also accustomed us to being able to immediately attain something with the push of a button, or the snap of our fingers. We want things to instantaneously be better, easier, faster. And when we don't want something, we expect it to be eliminated immediately. God, however, often has very different expectations and plans.
On some occasions, God's timing intercepts our timing in order to protect us. And on other occasions, God's timing creates beneficial circumstances that are even better than anything we could have envisioned creating ourselves within our own human time frame.
My grandmother told me the story about a day when she was running late for an appointment. Try as she might to make up for the lost time, she was unable to, and missed her bus, forcing her to catch another bus and further delaying her appointment. She later discovered that the bus she'd originally intended to take had crashed, injuring some of the passengers. God had intentionally caused her to run late to spare her from this misfortune. Running late was transformed from an inconvenience to a blessing.
You've probably heard numerous similar stories about 9/11 -- where running late was transformed from a troublesome nuisance into lifesaving protection from the horrifying carnage that took place that day. A non-functional alarm clock, or a missed train or bus were altered from petty annoyances to God-sent blessings of His supernatural timing.
I myself am not exempt from impatience that was modified by God's intervention. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and loving rock music ever since I was a child, my dream was to move to Los Angeles, a rock and roll haven. Finally, in 1988, my boyfriend and I decided to take the plunge and move to LA. Then unforeseen circumstances dictated that he wait another year and I, despite disappointment and even resentment regarding the situation, was so co-dependent that I put my lifelong plans to move on hold, as well.
Finally, 1989 came, and we headed to LA. The first week we were there, my boyfriend noticed a want ad for an executive assistant for an entertainment business management firm, which immediately set up an interview for me, and then hired me. I was ecstatic -- I'd only been in LA for eight days, only had one interview, and was now officially working in the rock music industry. It turned out that my boss' previous assistant had left the week prior to my arrival in town, prompting the running of the ad, which led to a job I held for 17 years. Had I been headstrong and insisted upon moving to LA in 1988, the timing would have been off, and none of this good fortune would have transpired. God had intervened so that my dreams could become reality.
When my dad, who lived in Phoenix, Arizona, was diagnosed with cancer, circumstances again intervened and caused me to postpone a crucial visit to him. When I finally was able to fly out to visit him, he died the following day. God had delayed my visit to my beloved father so I could be with him during his final moments.
God's time often feels as though it's taking too long. Yet His timing ultimately is perfect. And having patience with that timing involves that we grow in trust for Him. Trusting God requires accepting that we often don't know how He will accomplish something that needs to be done, and that we don't know when He will accomplish it -- and how or when He'll involve us in his grand scheme -- but that we hold the knowing that He will come through for us and offer us His guidance. Timing and trust work side-by-side.
Although waiting can, indeed, be frustrating, not knowing God's exact timing is what motivates us to keep hanging in there. We might give up if we knew how long it was actually going to take to reach a goal, and ultimately cheat ourselves out of the satisfaction of reaching that goal. This doesn't mean we have to just sit back and passively wait for God to do everything for us. But if we keep banging up against a wall in our efforts to accomplish something, it's likely to be because our method isn't God's method, and our timing isn't His timing, so we encounter resistance.
We can regard periods of waiting as a sort of heavenly training program. And that training period requires that we do what God instructs us to do when He tells us to do it -- without questioning His timing or trying to figure everything out all by ourselves, and plunging blindly and stubbornly ahead. When God guides our paths He sometimes leads us in directions that don't make sense to us -- at least, not until later.