I love musicals. The story told with songs, the dramatic flair surrounding even the simplest stories, and the humor that is often left out of mainstream music. My first experience with musicals was seeing Peter Pan at the Denver Performing Arts Center. The second had me singing songs in church about the Fruit of the Spirit, a musical called, “The Music Machine.” One song was sung by and about Herbert the Snail and the people around him that thought he moved too slowly. But Herbert had not always been that way. The song tells how when he was younger, he would rush around, crashing into things. The solution is found when his father takes him aside and explains how impatience causes worry, and that in the end, it is important to remember that God is patient with us. I do not remember every song by heart, but I constantly have that song playing in my head when I lose my patience with others and myself.
The Prophet, Habakkuk (Huh-Baa-Kuck), had a problem with patience too. In Habakkuk 1:12-2:3, Habakkuk has started questioning God’s plans. His understanding is that God is swift and mighty, solid as a Rock and seeks justice quickly for any wrongdoing or evil. His questioning is spiritual. He sees the evil in the world, the harm done to God’s people and questions why God is so slow to act. Habakkuk receives his answer from God in verse 2. He is told to write it down and spread it around. There is a plan that will be revealed at an appointed time. It is solid and true, and worth waiting for.
One might wonder the reaction of Habakkuk at that moment. He is already impatient with the evil that seems to have seeped in everywhere, and God’s answer is “There is a plan, tell everyone there is a plan, and the plan will be revealed in due time”…. NO DETAILS!!! Of course, Habakkuk’s response is found in the third chapter… He praises God and pleads for mercy for the evil people as God is delivering His Holy Wrath. That preaches!
We often want to know what God is doing NOW. We want to know what God is going to do NOW. We want to tell others what Our God is going to do NOW. The main problem with wanting every answer NOW is that we miss out on the joy of waiting, trusting, and watching as God’s plan unfolds, in the world, in our neighbors, and in ourselves. The Bible is filled with servants of the LORD that had to wait a very long time to reap the benefits that God had promised. Perhaps the failings of the Church, Christians… and basically anyone else in this world has been that we fail at being patient, want instant results, and in the end, we decide to handle it our own way. We hear someone utter “God has a plan for you” and we want to know every detail, a financial agenda, and if it involves a free car or a big house.
There is likely a great reason why scripture is filled both with people who waited a very long time and ones who were less than patient for God to unfold His Great Vision for their lives in His own time. Those who obeyed and trusted are those we want to be like, but those who were not seem to resemble us more closely than we like. God tells Abraham that He will give him a son… and Sarah loses patience and takes matters into her own hand… then bears a son and cast out his other son and his mother so Sarah doesn’t have to look at them. Fast forward a couple millennia, and we have Christians and Jews fighting Abraham’s other son’s descendants. God tells Jonah He has a plan for where he should go, Jonah says “Great!”, but turns tail when he finds out God’s plan involves going to save people Jonah can’t stand. Fast forward past Jesus saying to “Go into all the World”, and we find God’s people determining who they think should be saved and basing it upon what is in their comfort zone.
Like any Masterful Creator, the beauty and awe is able to be discovered when the time is taken to make every detail stand out instead of being rushed. Joseph waited on a dream he received for several years, in a pit, twice. In the end, not only was he given so much more than he could have expected, but his back-stabbing brothers were thankful for that annoying little brother. Every disciple found that by focusing on doing what they were commissioned to do instead of how many people might not like them, God poured out the Holy Spirit and set every land on fire with it, surpassing any expectation the Disciples could have had. When we let go of the expectations, the agendas, and preconceived notions of what we should be doing or what our lives or surrounds “should” look like, we begin walking the path God has put us on and one day we realize the goals we didn’t set have been exceeded by God’s plan for us. The only plan we need to make is, pray for God to do something, trust that He will do more, and praise Him daily for what we know to be true… that God is God for a good reason… and we are not for even better ones.
How can I cultivate a spirit of patience in my daily life and worship of God?
Do I let other people or my own agendas distract me from where God wants me to go?