For some unexplained reason I've had more challenges than joy with everything electronic and technical at my new job. If it's not the accounting software, then it is the printer that doesn't work. If it's not the printer, it is the scanner. If not the scanner, then there's a power failure, or my computer's connection to the server that gives an error. If it's not the server connection, then it's the accounting software - then the printer - then the server - then the scanner... You get the idea, I'm sure. (And I'm not exaggerating, believe you me.) Sometimes one of the problems have persisted for days, and in the meantime several of the others have also occurred, rendering me unable to perform my duties and creating huge backlog and stress.
After three months of this I am sure you can imagine that my tolerance level has gone from hero to zero and lately I've been feeling like I'm permanently "driving with the reserve light on". Who knows what I'm talking about?
At the risk of making matters worse, I got a new laptop computer just the other day, and knowing just how sensitive everything is, it was crucial for me that the change over be made in a very careful, methodical way, leaving little to no room for hick-ups. After all, I was in the middle of month end. Anyone who is involved with accounting can start feeling sorry for me right about now - ha-ha!
Surprisingly though, everything that was expected to be a problem actually went quite smooth. The problem - for some unknown reason - came with setting up my e-mail facility. (It must have been purely to remind me of the point that I'm writing about today.)
The IT lad had ticked and clicked everything exactly as it should be, but every time he clicked the "OK" command, or "CONTINUE", using the installation wizard, the little hour glass would simply tilt over and over, thinking, thinking, thinking - for over ten minutes at a time, going nowhere slowly - nowhere that we could see anyway. I could just envision myself clicking the OK button again, and again, then CANCEL, then the little red cross in the upper right corner, then calling up the Task Manager to end the operation and start over, then OK, OK, OK, OK, CANCEL - AAAARGHH! Then restarting the machine... All in a desperate attempt to make the problem go away; to find a way for it to complete the operation and just get the job done - and done now!!
Thankfully the IT lad had more patience. I think it takes a special kind of breed to be good at IT, don't you think?
Have you ever noticed how, when you start pushing every imaginable button in your impatient attempt to achieve the goal, you actually end up confusing the computer so badly that the whole thing just end up hanging - stuck in oblivion? Have you ever noticed how this happens when you think that you can afford it the least? Have you ever noticed how you actually become part of the problem (rather than the solution) and you end up even further away from the goal that you were aiming to achieve; increasing the delay that you couldn't afford to begin with?
In Genesis 15 God promised Abraham a son: "Then Jehovah told him, 'No one else will be your heir, for you will have a son to inherit everything you own.'" For about ten years Abraham and Sarah clicked the "intercourse" button but had no children, so Sarah clicked the "sleep with my slave girl, Hagar" button. Then, when Hagar fell pregnant, Sarah clicked the "blame it all on Abraham" button, then the "punish the girl for falling pregnant" button, and then nature clicked the "Ismael's born" button. I'm sure a whole lot of other buttons were clicked in the ensuing sixteen years till the birth of Isaac.
For all of the sixteen years Abraham thought that Ismael was the promised son that God had spoken of, but in Genesis 18 God tells Abraham again that He would give Abraham and Sarah a son the following year. (There was about 26 years between God's promising Abraham a son the first time and when Isaac was finally born.)
Wow! 26 years of waiting is a tall order, but by impatiently clicking all the other buttons that they were never supposed to click they certainly made things a lot more complicated and painful that it could have been otherwise.
Often when we pray we also expect God to act on our prayer immediately. We don't want to wait on God, patiently trusting that He heard us and that He is working on it - even if we can't yet see it - and that He is working it out in the best way possible. No, we want instant results; we want microwave miracles and drive-through breakthroughs. Then, when God doesn't deliver fast enough to our liking, we start clicking all kinds of alternative buttons instead and before we know it we've got ourselves entangled in painful, confusing and conflict ridden circumstance, and having to pile on the prayers for rescue from the mess that we've now created. And to think that all we had to do, was wait and trust, only following what God leads us to do.
Whenever we act in impatience, driven (more often than not) by our own selfish motives and desires we are really admitting without words that we either don't trust God to come through for us, or we selfishly think that the big "I" is more important than it is; that God needs to bow down to our demands, rather than acknowledging that He is Lord, and that He will answer us when He knows the time is right (and in the way that He knows is best for us - for everyone). Then, when we've refused to wait and we've made a big mess and hurt ourselves and perhaps several others, we (arrogantly, really) want to blame God. "If God really cared..." or "If God is such a good God..." We demand that God please us, but did you do what He told you to do? Did you obey for your part? (God is more interested in our obedience than He is our sacrifice - 1 Samuel 15:22) Did you apply your faith? (because without it, it is impossible to please the Lord - Hebrews 11:6)
Having an attitude that says What I want, when I want it, the way I want it! will not move God's hand any faster - if at all. Instead, you are bound to click your life into a complete and utter state of "hanging".
God is not obligated to finish anything that we started without Him.
Does this mean that God will have a "I told you so!" attitude whenever we have messed up? Never!! He loves us. Love doesn't have that attitude. However, neither does He magically make the consequence of our foolishness or weakness disappear. Instead, He sticks by us to help us grow mature spiritually so that we can enjoy the benefits that it brings in every area of our lives. Paul says in James 1:3-4 that trials and difficulties develops endurance, steadfastness and patience. He tells us to allow it to have full play and to do a thorough work, so that we may be(come) perfectly and fully developed people [with no defects], lacking in nothing. Then in Hebrews 12:11 he acknowledges that it is not fun to learn the hard way - it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character. In the end of everything God is mostly concerned with our character - that which has eternal value. So Paul says, "Take a new grip with tired hands, stand firm on shaky legs, mark out a straight path - i.e. take a deep breath and try again - so you (and anyone who follow you) will become strong.
What is there that you have asked of the Lord? Perhaps you need to make a big decision and you're not sure what to do, or maybe you have a need and you've asked for God's provision. Maybe you're facing a tough situation with a relationship and you don't have the power to change the other person and you need His help to resolve the situation, or perhaps your child is stuck in an addiction, wrong friends or rebellion and you need God to step in. Whatever you are needing from God today; whatever you've asked of Him, I want to encourage you today to be still and listen for His reply. Don't move in haste because it seems like He is not moving. Instead, ask Him to help you to be patient so that when you move, it will be a move in the right direction; helping you rather than hurting you; a move of wisdom without regret. Make the decision in your heart that you will not be so anxious and all tied up in knots over something that you cannot control, but that you will hold on to His promise to be faithful, to never leave you nor forsake you, and that He knows what is best for you at all times! Don't cause Him to have to reboot (you) when all you have to do is wait.
One thing you can count on is that He is never too late!! Wait with faith and expectation!
Psalm 42:5 (AMP) Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.
Habakkuk 2:1-2 (NLT) I will climb my watchtower now, and wait to see what answer God will give to my complaint. And the Lord said to me, "Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others. But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!