I’m not a patient person. I try to be, but more often than not I find myself becoming impatient. I have never liked waiting, especially when I think I know the answer or the right course of action and am ready to move ahead. I’m sure we’ve all been at this point at some time in our lives. It can be frustrating waiting for someone else to get on board with our ideas and sometimes we move ahead without waiting for others to join us on our journey.
However, this course of action can be disastrous. Often in my desire to get things done I overlook the pitfalls that a more cautious approach might recognize. Looking back, I see many instances which make me think, “if I had only waited… .”
God calls us to wait at times. I am learning, but it does not come easily for me. I still want to rush ahead and help Him with His plans. The process often goes like this: I think, “I’ve got some great ideas! I should try this. I bet I/my church/our family could achieve my/our goal by doing this.” Then I plan carefully and, if no large obstacles are placed in my way, I execute the plan. Sometimes it works out well, but sometimes it backfires and has a negative impact. As I’ve grown older, I have been able to look back at my life and see the times where I did not wait on God for His guidance and timing and, instead, just followed my own plan.
Sometimes it’s all about the timing. We might have a great idea or plan, but it simply is not the time for it. All our plans will be for naught if we do them according to our own timing rather than God’s. This is the part that I find so hard. I don’t like waiting, but now that God has given me the discernment to see how moving ahead of His plan has had negative impacts in my past, I do find it easier.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” This is a reminder that God works in His own time and His timing is perfect. We need to wait, to be still, even when our first urge is to get something done. God has a plan for our lives, and the world around us, and we may not always understand. Sometimes His plan only reveals itself day-by-day and we need to wait, watch, and do our best to discern and do His will.
This verse was written by Peter as part of a larger discussion where he was explaining the coming of the day of the Lord and outlining some of the things that we will experience in the world around us. He says that there will be scoffers, people following their evil desires, and general ungodliness. He also explains that people will purposely choose not to accept that God created the heavens and earth with just His word. This sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?
God has said He will come again but sometimes that seems like it is a long way off. We strive to be patient and to live our lives in ways that are pleasing to Him. But it is hard to wait and it is hard to understand why we experience pain, disease, problems, strife, and struggles in general. It can be hard to watch all of the bad news that seems to bombard us from all around the world every day. What can we do to help? How can we make a difference? These are valid questions, but only if they are considered within the context of God’s plan for our lives and done in His time.
If we look back one verse, 2 Peter 3:8 says, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” We cannot comprehend God’s timing but we know that it is perfect. We can only wait patiently for His plan to be completed in our lives. How do we wait? What does God expect of us while we wait? A little further along in the chapter, Peter says that we should be preparing for the day of the Lord to come by living holy and godly lives (verse 11) rather than being impatient and focusing on our own plans.
To me, there is a sense of quietness embodied in these two endeavours. We seek holiness by reading the Bible, praying, seeking godly counsel, but not by striving, hurrying, planning, and rushing ahead to do what we want instead of God’s will. Rather than focusing on the future, we begin to consider the here and now and doing the things that God has given us to complete in this moment. When we focus on being holy and godly, when we wait quietly, it is easier to hear God’s voice in the stillness. Rather than rushing ahead we begin to rest patiently in the centre of His will.
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