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Those annoying delays
How often we have delays and inconveniences that annoy us. It happens to us all You have that dreaded flat tire – and you were already running late for that special engagement or appointment. Or you forgot your cell phone and so you have to go back (how did we function in the old days without cell phones?!!). Or your car won't start because someone left a car door open all night. Or why is that red light staying red so long; it appears to have been at least one whole minute now! And of course you can’t keep going to your kids’ overnight party because one of your children just remembered he forgot that cuddly elephant he sleeps with every night and you just have to go back and get it.
Or maybe it’s more serious than any of these and you have to take several weeks off work due to a major operation you need. Another delay. You need to work. You need to keep going – but you can’t. Another delay. You fret. Or do you?
You know what I mean…you have an important meeting to make. Or this delay will make you late for church services or the family Thanksgiving dinner, etc. etc. And so we put the fruit of the spirit called “longsuffering” or “patience” back into storage and we let ourselves fret and fume.
Or am I the only one?
And maybe a most stressful delay for all of us is “how long” it’s taking for our Messiah to return. I mean even Peter, Paul, and John all thought it was imminent and spoke of it being “the last hour” – not just “the last days”. But, Yeshua/Jesus still has not landed on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem. This is especially rough on people getting up there in age (and now I’m in those ranks, I guess) or who have painful health issues and would love to have that new spirit body that true believers will be granted upon his return.
More on that later, or maybe…maybe I’ll put it off and delay saying more about that for now.
But what should we be thinking when the light stays red so long, when we have to waste time because of something we or our spouse forgot? Do we fume and fret? What could be better thoughts that would help in these situations?
Click on “Continue reading” for some helpful reminders of what might really be happening in times of delay like I’ve just described.
My wife and I were out of town and as we were heading home, I said to my wife, “I’m getting a strong feeling we should turn right here”. But to her – and my logic – that turn made no sense. I followed that strong inkling I had, made the turn, went up a couple miles, and realized it really did make no sense and so turned around and got back to the old point we were at before. Not much was lost; just a few minutes. But as we continued our journey, ahead of us was a massive tractor-trailer accident also involving 4 cars and we could hear ambulances on the way. It immediately seemed clear to us that had I not made that errant turn – that did annoy and delay us both at first -- we probably would have been at that very spot of the accident when it happened. I repented of fuming, and thanked my God in heaven for watching over us.
You probably have stories like that too. A side-point to all of this is to learn to hear God’s voice and his guidance. He still speaks to us. He has not gone mute. He still looks over us.
So now when the traffic light seems to stay red for the longest time, I try to remember a few things. I started the day with a prayer that God would be present in my day and that I would be in tune to HIS thoughts, His will, his direction, and I thank God in advance for watching over us and others I mention in prayer. If I believe God answers those prayers, then even the little annoyances may just be God’s way of re-setting everything to fall into his time table.
But neither am I saying every delay is caused by God. Sometimes, those annoyances are simply because of things we did. Maybe we didn’t get up on time, or plan our day well enough. But – no matter what—turn it back over to God and ask him to please turn everything out for good. Yes – including this annoying delay you’re going through.
I read a blog recently where someone recounted some of the many stories of those who survived the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers in New York. Most of the survivors recount how they were not in the building, and therefore their lives were spared, because they were late because:
** it was their turn to bring donuts
** their car wouldn’t start
** they missed the bus
** they were stuck in traffic for a long time
** she had spilled food all over her blouse and had to change
So next time you can’t find your car keys or your car won’t start or you have to go back for something, maybe just maybe your guardian angels are diverting you from something you may – or may not – ever even know about that could have been disastrous for you. Someday perhaps you’ll get to meet angels who had watched over you and they’ll tell you one story after another and enthrall you. I thank God for watching out over me and over you.
God often tests our faith by not fulfilling His promises when WE think He should be. Look at how many years Abraham and Sarah had to wait before they actually held the promised son. And David was anointed king over all Israel by Samuel while David was but a young boy – but at least 2 decades or more passed before he actually became king. Talk about delays! There are numerous other examples we could use.
The lesson: leave the timing to God. In our daily lives – and in the overall perspective of history itself. He is working things out and you are in His plan. He knows you intimately. He knows when you get out of bed and when you sit down and when you do anything and everything. And yes, he actually does care and is watching. So don’t let a paltry delay – whether it be minutes, hours, days or years of delay – let you start to fret and fume. Worrying, fretting and getting upset is not showing enough faith in God and what He is doing and what his timing is -- when we do so. Again, on the day-to-day delays, who knows if you’re being protected from something of which you have no awareness – for now.
And how about that other “delay” we feel? You know the one that says “Father, why haven’t you sent your Son back yet?” Well, God has his reasons and purposes. Maybe it’s not a delay at all. Maybe it’s just that we’re becoming impatient – or maybe our calendar calculations are wrong. Someday we’ll understand all this too.
Remember we are warned about dismissing everything into “the Lord delays his coming.” I know the verses in 2nd Peter about that (2 Peter 3:3-4) and not being a scoffer. We’re also warned about concluding the Lord has delayed his coming in Matthew 24:48 and it’s also alluded to in Ezekiel 12:22-27. So let’s not “go there”.
But do you know what’s also interesting? Our Lord himself says, in the parable of the 10 Virgins, “and while the Bridegroom tarried….” (Matthew 25:5). Read it with your own eyes. We know who the Bridegroom is, right? And then there’s also the verse in Hebrews 10:37 that quotes from Habakkuk “and yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry”.
So apparently in these last days, there will be signs that point to “it’s any day now” – and other times we can be tempted to feel there are yet 20-30 years ahead of us before Christ comes. I hope not the latter. But I do know how even fifty years ago everyone was feeling Christ’s return was just around the corner. The important thing is to BE ready, not wait to GET ready (Luke 12:40). When it all wraps up, it will happen suddenly and catch many napping (like the 10 virgins), for He will come “at such a time as ye think not”.
“As ye think not”.
But so many who seemed so zealous 40-50 years ago don’t even pray or study anymore or attend church services as they’ve become so disillusioned over the fact Christ is not here yet. Don’t let that be you. Stay hot and zealous. Be daily seeking our heavenly Father and our Savior no matter how long everything takes. And one more thing: while we wait, you and I remember to be the servants he finds busy “so doing” His work and being a good light here on earth for Him, no matter when he finally comes and lands on the Mount of Olives. Read the account in Matthew 24:44-49. Actually that topic itself is worthy of a whole blog.
Matthew 24:44-51 “Therefore you also BE ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So whatever God is doing or will do – you and I are to keep busy serving God and one another and helping get out the good news of our Savior and God’s kingdom. Blessed are those found so doing – still working – when Christ returns. Don’t be someone so preoccupied with your time lines and other busy work that you’re not serving anyone anymore.
But the point of THIS blog: leave the timing up to God. You and I need to trust him and his timing – even and especially when it seems to result in those annoying delays. I preach to myself as well, as always. But so often, what seems like irritating delays in our lives could well be God’s divine intervention to keep us out of trouble.
God just may be causing your delay to save your life, or the life of someone else, or to bring his plans about. And if not, if it’s just a true annoying delay with no purpose, still – we are to live with the fruit of God’s spirit – longsuffering. Patience. Even joy and peace, especially with things we can’t change. Oh, believe me, I’m still having to learn this. I’m so impatient so often but God is teaching me and I’m learning. I hope you are too.