How do you feel about the future? Are you positive? Or are you at best skeptical about the days, months, and years ahead? Do you ever feel like things are going so fast they somehow need to be slowed down a bit?
Being in a position at this stage in life where I commute at least a couple of days a week to a work setting in another community, I have had my share of slow-down moments, waiting for school buses to disembark students, or for a tractor or other farm vehicle to proceed to a place in the highway where I could legitimately pass that slow-moving impediment to my progress. A couple of weeks ago I learned that lesson of the importance of slowing down in a very personal way.
I was running late and therefore was rapidly proceeding toward a luncheon appointment in a nearby community when, as I passed over a rise in the highway, I saw what turned out to be the instrument for teaching me that patience. I encountered, moving toward me, a very diligent and purposeful member of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Immediately, upon spotting the OSHP vehicle approaching, I did what most people would do in a similar circumstance. I immediately checked my speedometer, simultaneously taking my right foot off the accelerator of the car, and checking my rearview mirror to see if the patrolman was making any adjustments to his progress away from me – which he was. He was turning around to pursue me.
Pastor Chuck Swindoll often has declared that one of the last body parts to ever get saved and/or sanctified is the driver’s right foot. In that brief moment, I realized the truth of that statement. Yes, indeed I had been exceeding the legal speed limit. And the patrolman was intent on making sure I realized that in a personal way.
Once I saw him turn around and turn on his lights on the top of his vehicle on, I pulled into the next wide spot on the road I found. He pulled in behind me and I found myself waiting, wanting him to hurry up as I was already running late for my lunch. He patiently and carefully approached my vehicle and asked for my license, registration documents, and where I was going in such a hurry. After talking for a few moments, I realized that being late for lunch was really not much of an excuse for disobeying the law. He eventually sent me on my way with a rather costly reminder that I need to be more patient, and should not always be in such a hurry.
As I write this weekly article, the current presidential election is no longer in doubt. The citizens of this country have spoke, and by their actions, by their votes, they have expressed their impatience. No longer willing to accept the status quo, they are asking for a change. There is a definite concern for the future and depending upon your political persuasion, differing solutions as to how to handle it. So, how do we handle this?
I cannot help but look to the Bible for some sort of direction and advice in this whole situation. No matter where we turn and look in the Scriptures there is consistently an admonition to apply the virtue of patience in the situation. One of the best demonstrations is in 1 Samuel 13, when the king of Israel, Saul, was to meet the prophet of God, Samuel, at the city of Gilgal. There Saul waited and waited for Samuel to show up as they had previously agreed. Then Saul finally got so impatient because all the people around him were becoming fidgety and fearful and Saul, the brand new king of Israel, began to fear for his own leadership and the hope of his nation. Samuel had told him to wait for him seven days and on the seventh day, when Saul was waiting with the people, he became very impatient and went ahead and sacrificed the offerings to God in Samuel’s place. And just as he was finishing up the offerings, Samuel arrived on the scene (on the day he promised to be there), and simply asked what he was doing.
Saul’s own impatience in this setting was the actual downfall of his own kingdom. And from that moment on, Samuel the prophet began to seek and pray for “a man after God’s own heart” (v. 12), who happened to be David the shepherd boy.
Dr. Jim Denison writes a blog called the Denison Forum. On the day before the election, he stated these words: You and I can make two mistakes on the eve of the 2016 election. One is to fear its results. The other is to trust its results. All that has come behind us shows that we can trust God with all that comes before us. As Winston Churchill noted, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.”
Therefore, as we look forward to the future, all our fears, all our trust in human individuals or the institutions we have created, need to be laid aside. May I encourage you to pray diligently for God to do His work in you in His way. And be patient.
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette. He also serves as pastor of Port William UMC.