At The Right Time

WaitingI’m impatient. No, seriously. I… am… impatient.  I intentionally record television shows just so I can fast-forward through commercials. I get frustrated because in my opinion two minutes is far too much time to make microwave popcorn. I have been known to pull out of line in the drive-thru if I feel like things are not moving fast enough. High speed internet connections? What a joke! If the web page doesn’t come up immediately, I start clicking the refresh button. Traffic lights are a blight on humanity. Every line at any store should be 10 items or less. And I remain thoroughly convinced that the only way to read a book is to start with the last chapter. For me it’s all about the now. Tomorrow has no meaning in my world. Waiting is for lesser beings. I want immediate pay-off. I want instant gratification. I want what I want and I want it NOW!!! (Okay, I’m stretching the illustration just a little but you get the point.)

The great problem with impatience is that so many things in life take time. A really good meal doesn’t happen without a lot of preparation. Championship teams put in hours and hours of practice. Cherished relationships require substantial investments of time. In fact, there seems to be a close connection between quality and time. Poor quality is almost always the result of hurry and haste. That meal should have stayed in the oven a little longer. That team should have invested more hours in the film room and on the practice field. And what relationship couldn’t have benefited from more “quality” time? No, impatient just doesn’t work when it comes to the things in life that truly matter.

When it comes to the kingdom of God there are few things that are as important as patience. Think about it. Repeatedly we are admonished in Scripture to “wait on the Lord.” Anyone want to venture a guess as to the fourth fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5? That’s right. Patience. There is also this verse from Hebrews, “…so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Patience is foundational to kingdom living. God Himself is characterized as patient and long-suffering. And as we seek to become more like Him, we too realize that patience is indeed a virtue after all.  However, the reality is that many of us find ourselves struggling in that in-between place that exists where it concerns the promise “believed” and the promise “received.” If we apply the above verse from Hebrews, we have to admit that many of us are good when it comes to the faith part. Our chief difficulty is in the realm of waiting.

Hannah was a woman who understood the value of patience. Look at 1 Samuel 1:19-20, “And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. And it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son;…” Now, if you are one of those people who likes to highlight and underline things in your Bible, then you need to mark that small phrase, “… in due time…” In the beginning of chapter 1 we find a hurting and desperate woman. She turns to God in prayer and receives confirmation from the priest that God has heard her cries. She rises up early the next morning and worships God. Later that day she heads home with her husband and they “had relations.” Most of us know how it works from that point. Conception, followed by about 9 months of pregnancy, resulting in the birth of a child.

Now, don’t miss what just happened. The Bible crams 9 months of waiting into the space of less than two verses. We quickly read in a matter of seconds what actually took close to a year to fully reveal, i.e. for Hannah there was a very lengthy period of waiting before the answer finally arrived. Yes, she had conceived. Yes, she could visually see the evidence growing within her womb. But the final delivery of God’s promise was not immediately or instantly manifest. For 9 months she held onto the promise. In fact, she literally carried the seed of that promise within her womb. But in due time, at just the right time, the promise came forth and the answer to her deepest longings and desperate prayers was ushered forth into the land of the living.

Imagine that… She carried the promise long before she ever held it. There is a valuable lesson here for all of us. We need to be careful our impatience doesn’t lead to a premature birth or miscarriage of faith. Hannah desperately wanted a child. But given the circumstances, she knew that the best thing to do was to nurture and care for the promise “within her.” The God who had conceived hope within her was not going to abort His promise. According to His perfect plan and timing, God would cause that which had been conceived to also be birthed… in due time.