Don’t Waste Your Waiting

Don’t Waste Your Waiting

There is both purpose and tremendous benefits to being in God’s school of waiting. For waiting: Is a stark reminder that we are not in control of things. This is very positive. Trying to be master of your own life will prove to be exhausting. Calls for honesty. It involves facing up to, and confessing, the struggles, pain, and doubts of our own hearts.

I’m sitting at OR Tambo International Airport, waiting for my flight back home. And I’m thinking about my hatred of waiting. I think to what degree my actions are determined by my desire to do things as quickly as possible; avoiding as much fuss as possible. The airline is Safair, reputedly the least delayed airline in the world. We checked in online, to save time and bother. When queuing, I have carefully studied the four lines, figuring out which will be quickest. The lines must keep moving! Then we have booked seats right at the back of the aircraft. These are for a quick getaway after landing. And, of course, we only have hand-luggage. Who in their right mind wants to watch the stupid carousel going round and round?

I don’t want to wait. Waiting is pure agony.

I Have the Need for Speed

My issues with time seem to be typical of the Western world. Time is precious. Time is money, say the experts. Waiting is therefore a waste of time and money. “Quick and easy” are two words with enormous seductive, even magical, powers. How can we ‘do life,’ maximising it with the least fuss and bother? We have fast food, eating meals on the run or in our cars. We covet huge internet speeds. Every fix must be instant. The latest diet promises incredible results with minimal effort. The self-help bestselling book is subtitled: Discover Yourself in Less Than 30 Minutes.

‘Make life happen, don’t let it happen to you.’ The real thing is the next thing, we want to live from peak event to peak event. Eat dessert first! When life gets very tough, skip the unpleasantries and take instant gratification. Forget the potatoes, go straight for the ice cream. ‘Just do it!’ What are you waiting for? One life, live it! Carpe Diem. There is something appealing about these slogans. Yet there is also something potentially very misleading. 

As usual, the church follows the world. It simply rebrands the psychobabble: “Simple devotions for the busy Christian;” “Quick sermons for the over-worked pastor;” “Five keys to spiritual victory;” “Three Steps to Holiness.” But those titles are false. They’re dangerous! Robust faith can’t be microwaved!

Churches are filled up with people looking for rapid, painless paths to change and growth. Congregants are given formulaic answers and offered express spirituality; a trite, formulaic, and franchised faith. The world has McDonald’s. So the church offers McFaith. We want shortcuts, comfortable answers to vexing problems.

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