Sunday, September 13, 2009

Learning the Hard Way

"I want patience and I want it right now!"

How often have I thought that phrase when I am wanting something that I don't have yet. Whether it is the money for a new car, full knowledge of everything I need to know in my new chosen profession, or the ability to see my family across the country, I tend to ask for patience in a very impatient way. In some ways, I have never grown up from the little child who needs instant gratification for her wants and needs. Sure, I understand that I need to wait, but do I really? The way our society works doesn't help me out any either. Everything seems to be "on demand" anymore. Instant access to news, shopping, and just about everything else is a click away on the internet. Got an earache or worse, there's clinics and even ER to get help for it immediately. Then there's the 24 hour stores, including the one I work at, which can give you products and services any time of the day or night. Sure, we are taught to wait when we are little, but we never really have to learn it. Until it's something that can't be instantly granted.

Ask the person who just got out of knee surgery if they want to go on a five mile run and they'll laugh at you. They have to be patient and give their body time to heal. For a lot of us, including me, that's learning it the hard way. It is the hard way because it is out of our control; and believe me, control is a big thing with an anxiety disorder. When you are worried about something, you want to control every aspect of it to make sure it gets done. You don't want to rely on others who might let you down, you want to be the bottom line, even if that means more responsibility, at least you know it was done and done right. Now, that kind of attitude will get you pretty far in the work-a-day world, but it will get you nowhere when it comes to the things of God.

After all, if it were up to Adam and Eve, they would have been brought back to the Garden with the birth of Cain, not Jesus. Jesus Himself would have brought down the Romans and became a king on earth if the Jews had their way on how this Messiah thing would pan out. But both of those scenarios weren't God's plan. God's plan was that Adam and Eve would have to be patient about going back to Eden, and that Christ would not be the earthly King, but the Heavenly King sent to save us all from our sins and not just the Jews from the Romans.

If it were up to us now, we would be up to the same tricks in a different way. Popular culture would tell us to pray a specific prayer or pray it in a specific way. There might also be talk of taking risks to prove your faith or living your life according to the strictest rules to prove your loyalty to God and your worthiness for what you ask for. But that gets back to what we can control and in the ways of God, we know that it isn't in our best interest for us to be in control. Despite what our sinful flesh may tell us, He does know what is best for us and has the best plan in mind. So our response to things that we want that God has not granted to us yet is somewhat of an inactive role.

We can pray to God daily that He might grant us what we wish. We can do what we are able to prepare us for what we pray. We can even express our frustration and anger to God over what we do not yet have. However, we must remember that none of those things are leverage to get what we want, for God is a God of gifts. We did not earn or merit our salvation, but while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and gave us the gift of salvation in baptism. The forgiveness of sins is given to us in, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion in His body and His blood and in Holy Absolution. Then, when we feel exhausted and wonder if God really hears our plea, we must pray, "Lord, I believe! Help, thou, my unbelief!" and trust that God will gift us when and where He chooses for His glory.