Those traffic lights – again! Last time, the pedestrian crossing light kept causing the lights to cycle endlessly – when there was not a pedestrian in sight. This time the lights are continuously going through the turn cycle when there are no cars waiting to turn.
Continually stopping me on my daily trips to the mall for exercise.
Why don’t they fix them? Taking up my precious time! After a few days of frustration, it occurred to me to check my watch to time the delay. Half a minute. Each way. Well now. Is a one-minute delay something to fuss about? Something to disturb my tranquility on a beautiful fall morning? Something – I’ll say the word – to be impatient about?
You know what a split second is, right? The time from when the light turns green til the fellow behind you honks his horn. Of course, that depends on where you live. In the supermarket, how much time have we wasted looking for the shortest check-out line, only to have that line move the slowest?
Oh, computers? In the middle of the last century, when I needed to dig out some major information, I got on the subway, traveled to the huge NY Public Library on 42nd St., searched the card catalogue, filled out a requisition, waited for the page to bring my books from the stacks, and then searched the books. That’s last century. This century, I Goggle what I want, and when the page has not finished loading after a whole half minute, well, you know how we react. As Christians, we won’t curse the computer, but there is a good chance we’ll be – I’ll say the word again: impatient. We may even covet the latest connection with “lightning speed” that will “blow you away,” so that we don’t have to wait sooooo long!
Is it possible that we have become addicted to instant everything? Is it possible that we need to reconsider that portion of the fruit of the Spirit which is called “patience”? Or “longsuffering” or “forbearance” depending upon your version (Gal. 5:22).
Then there is the proverbial fellow who prayed, “God, please give me more patience. And give it to me now!”
You don’t learn patience by reading a book. You didn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a manual. Yes, we can learn about patience by reading the Bible. Hopefully, you are learning something about patience by reading this Insight. But to learn patience we need things we don’t like. I doubt you will learn any patience by eating an ice cream sundae. But you would have a great opportunity to learn if a five-year-old dropped her melting ice cream into your lap.
While those traffic lights continue to malfunction, I have an opportunity to practice patience. And opportunity will knock again when my check-out lane is the slowest. Tiny examples, but just maybe they can help us examine our lives more closely when the unfortunate big situations come our way urging us to learn “the patience of Job.”
If we cannot handle a half-minute delay gracefully, how likely are we to handle half a day, half a month, or half a lifetime? As we do more attitude checks on the little issues, perhaps it will help us remember to work on our attitudes during the bigger issues.
May the Spirit increase patience in my life and in your life!