I needed only a few things from the store, so I expected it to be a quick stop, but the check-out lines were knee-deep in customers. I was restless and moved between different lines, finally settling in to what I thought to be the fastest and shortest. The girl at the express lane came back from break and turned on her light. Over I went. That brought me from the back of five full carts to being third in the express lane. I was on my way. I thought perhaps I’d get home early enough and find extra time to relax. The two in front of me checked out quickly. It was finally my turn. Then it happened.
Halfway through my order, the computer froze. By the time the manager came to the rescue, the lines around me were shorter, along with my patience. There was nothing they could do but reboot the computer, but the computer wouldn’t respond. I had no choice but to go to another lane. To think I would have already been out the door had I stayed where I started. Impatience got the best of me, and it got me nowhere but back to the beginning. By the time I got home, I was too drained of time, ambition and patience to do anything productive, let alone relax. My choices that kick-started it all changed the course of the entire evening. Such is true with our spiritual journeys. Choices can change the course of our spiritual journey - one way or the other.
Consider Saul. The Philistines assembled to fight Israel. They had a massive army which was bigger and better equipped. Samuel instructed Saul to wait for seven days. In the meanwhile, Samuel would offer a burnt offering before the battle. As Saul waited for Samuel to appear, his army dwindled in size and his men were becoming overwhelmed by the fierce opposition. Saul became impatient and offered the sacrifice himself. Just as Saul finished, Samuel appeared and rebuked him for his impatience, his distrust of God and for his prideful decisive measures. Samuel declared that Saul was no longer fit to be king. (1 Samuel 13). Saul lost the blessing of ruling of an entire kingdom because of his disobedience, his impatience, his lack of spiritual maturity, which in turn became part of his downfall.
Even in our zeal to serve God, we can become impatient without realizing until we’re in the midst of the consequences. We may find ourselves one step ahead of God in our journey with Him. We may even become deaf to our own voices crying out, “When God, when?” - something we never expect to hear from ourselves. Too often, as a result, we lose focus. Our attention moves off of God, His wisdom and His power and turns to ourselves and our own capabilities.
Impatience jeopardizes accountability and trustworthiness before God and our brethren. When we impatiently take our own route, thinking it’s the quickest, shortest and best way to get to our destination – we’ve already hindered any forward progress. We miss out on blessings of natural growth and opportunity. Ultimately, we end up journeying into the wilderness, the desert or even back to “Egypt.” We simply end up lifeless and clueless. One single step does begin a journey, but which direction are the footprints heading?
Patience roots itself in and captures the fullness of each victory toward the final victory and bears fruit along the way in the steady flow of God’s timing in the right direction. Impatience has nomadic tendencies, always seeking the final victory while missing the most fruitful and fruit-filled victories along the way in unbalanced sporadic timing in an uncertain direction.
Patience looks outside of itself and settles in peacefully where it fits in to God’s plan. Impatience looks only to itself and either tries to force itself in where it doesn’t belong, always reaching but never succeeding, or it tries to force God’s plan to fit into it.
Being patient or being impatient is a choice. To make that decision, we must ask ourselves, who is the best authority to be in control? Who really is in control? Trial and impending error or victorious faith?
Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (NIV)