Impatience

by Stan Mitchell

The great New England preacher Phillip Brooks was known for his calm demeanor, but even he could have his patience tried at times. One day a friend observed him pacing the floor like a caged lion.

“What’s the trouble, Dr. Brooks?” Asked the friend.

“The trouble is that I am in a hurry,” he replied, “but God isn’t.”

There aren’t many masterpieces by microwave. Yet we still become impatient with the deliberate manner in which God operates. We want an eighty-foot oak tree to grow in six months.

We want a church to mature yesterday. We want a teenager to behave like a fully mature adult.

A few years ago some African preachers I knew began to refer to themselves as “Dr. Smith” and “Dr. Jones.” When I inquired as to their impressive PhD degrees, they answered:

“We took a six month correspondence course from Michigan in the USA! And what is more, this correspondence course is accredited!”

Which, of course, raised the important question, “Accredited by whom?”

Genuine graduate degrees are earned, not given away, and they take years of research and sacrifice.

There are no special formulas for growth. In fact, “quick grow” solutions, in nature and spiritual matters tend to be unnatural, and probably fatally flawed.

I’m sure the foolish builder of Matthew 7:24-27, could have pointed out the length of time it took the other guy to cut a foundation out of bed rock, and to make his deliberate, painstaking preparations. But you know what happened when the wind and the rains came; the guy who was in a hurry was homeless!

It took Jesus three years to develop his apostles. It took eighty years to prepare Moses for leadership. It took thousands of years for the right time for God to send his son (Galatians 4:4).

And we want results yesterday. At the soonest.

Like the rabbit in the children’s tale, we pull our white gloves on and off, and mutter, “I’m late, I’m late.”

I wonder if the Lord operates on Greenwich Mean Time or Mountain? I wonder who sets God’s deadlines? I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we began to fit into his schedule rather than trying to crush him into ours?

“The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (Mark 4:28, ESV).

God has an eternity in which to do his work. Then again, we’re eternal beings, too. How much better it would be to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:4).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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