Written by Bryan Maier
Friday, 19 April 2013 00:00
What parent has not heard their child voice this demand on a trip? I have always thought this is a somewhat silly question as the fact that we are all still in the car is clear evidence that we indeed are NOT there yet. But if we are honest, it is not just children who are impatient. We all are. Our culture seems to be getting faster and faster and thus waiting becomes more intolerable. Activities that used to take days now take only as long as it takes for electronic waves to reach a cell phone or computer. To cite just one example, letter writing on paper (which is now referred to as “snail mail”) has advanced to email and now has progressed to texting, tweeting and other instant forms of communication.
Sadly, in my profession, time, particularly time for healing, has also been contracted. I wrote in a previous blog how the newest diagnostic manual of psychological disorders will be reducing the time allotted for “healthy grief” down to around two months. Anything longer becomes “complicated grief” or depression and thus warrants intervention. But it is not just grief. Most disorders have a quick fix (or at least a treatment) of some sort. Usually this push comes from managed care and the desire not to drag out a treatment, but I would suggest that the culture at large also supports this idea that there is a quick identifiable remedy for almost any problem. Life is too short to suffer. Fix the problem and move on.
When I read the Bible I see a different view of time. Let me remind you of just one example.
The book of Exodus tells us that the Israelites were in slavery to Egypt for four hundred years. Four hundred years! How could they remember anything about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob after that long (indeed many of them had forgotten)? How many of us consciously live our lives based on anything that happened in the 1600’s? On an individual level, Moses was 40 when he left Egypt, 80 when he returned, and 120 when he finally got a glimpse of the Promised Land just before his death. The Bible records what God wants us to know for the purpose of redemptive history but imagine interviewing Moses when he was 68. He had left Egypt 28 years previously and had established a family and a life out in the wilderness.
But according to the Biblical record, it would be twelve more years before anything “exciting” would happen (from our perspective). What would
Moses say about God and his faithfulness on his 68thbirthday? Then suppose we fast forward to Moses 100th birthday party. What a milestone, but at this time, Moses had been wandering around the wilderness for twenty years with a bunch of disgruntled whiners who, two decades prior, had demonstrated their unwillingness to trust God and take Land he had promised. It would be two more decades before God finally gave them the land. What would Moses have to celebrate on that day as he blew out the multitude of candles on his manna cake? What accomplishments did he have to show for himself at one hundred years old? Sure he could look at his staff and remember the Red Sea and all the plagues but that was old history especially as that generation was dying off. Again, it would be several more laps around the desert before anything “productive” would happen.
Apparently, God does not seem to be in near as much of a hurry as we are. In fact, sometimes he seems to be doing nothing. We know that a missional God is always up to something but most of the time he feels no compulsion to inform us of his plans (other than the “big” ones like the gospel). So what do we do while we wait (or plod around the desert)?
This I believe is where faithfulness comes in. God does not call us to be inactive but to keep on trusting him. Things really are going according to His plan, whether we recognize it or not. Not everyone will get to conquer a city by watching God supernaturally knock down the walls. Most of us won’t get to walk on water (or through it). But we are all called to trust and love a God that we cannot see or control. For many of us that may mean a life of a “long obedience in the same direction”.
May he find us faithful while we continue to wonder if we are there yet.
Bryan Maier, Psy. D. is an Associate Professor of Counseling & Psychology in the Masters of Arts in Counseling Program at Biblical. He maintains a private practice at Diane Langberg & Associates.