As many of you know, I’m not a fan of waiting. I don’t like standing in lines or being put on “hold.” I can be very patient, when needed. But I’d rather have sooner than later. I suspect that a lot of you feel the same way. After all, we live in a “now” society. We send messages instantaneously, buy things on the internet and have them shipped overnight, replace appliances instead of repairing them, and overspend our credit cards so we can have something “now.”
Unfortunately, much of life still moves at the same pace despite our cultural rush. The world really doesn’t care that we are in a hurry. Changes in hours, days and seasons continue at their same pace. Plants grow and mature in their own time. Our children grow at the pace God desires. Even our own aging is, to a large degree, out of our control. In particular, our spiritual growth and development often happens in a slower time frame than we desire. Too many of us want to become deeply spiritual – overnight. When we run up against the constraints of time, we get frustrated. Sometimes, we even quit. Only when we have learned true wisdom do we persist and begin to learn.
In the last years of my mother’s life, I spent many hours in a hospital waiting room during a surgery or test. With her multiple health issues, these things always posed an extra risk for my mother. Completing a surgery or test brought a great sense of relief. Then began the waiting for results or for complications that might occur afterwards. I would bring books to read and such, but it is hard to focus your attention when you’re waiting. And, for me, a few hours of waiting felt like several days.
On the occasion of one surgery, my friend and colleague, the Rev. Jarrell Sharp, came by to pray with us and share much appreciated hugs. During the surgery, several friends came and prayed and visited with us. When I checked my e-mail, I read prayers from some of you. All those prayers helped bring me into the reality of God’s time and God’s care. They brought a sense of comfort and assurance – an ability to trust in God that made the time pass more easily. I was reminded that God was caring for my mother through His presence and through the medical professionals.
We are in a time of waiting in the UMC. General Conference has been delayed – and may be delayed even further. Many of us respond to that frustration and anxiety by trying to force whatever is our issue. But the reality is that we simply need to wait. If you have time, here is a link to the page where Bishop Schnase addresses our last Annual Conference session: Rio Texas Annual Conference 2021 — Rio Texas Annual Conference (Scroll down the page to the video and click on it.) In these times of waiting, he encourages us to continue doing ministry and continue trusting in God. For me to do that, prayer is absolutely essential. It helps me slow down from my rushing and lean into God’s time. It reminds me that I am surrounded by God’s compassion and love. It connects me with God’s strength and healing.
When we are waiting, we can choose to be anxious and frustrated. Or we can choose to pray and trust. One leads to misery. The other leads to peace. Whatever you are waiting on, try praying and asking for prayers. In God’s time, you’ll discover grace and peace that the rest of the world misses as it hurries by.
Grace and Peace,