While typing and printing off documents, my printer suddenly decided to morph into la-la land. Electronic devices are wonderful — until they don’t work. Then we’re stuck.
Frustrated, I tried several times to print the last document, not realizing what was happening on the other end of electronic cyberspace. After rebooting, unplugging, and still not printing, I turned everything off and quit for the day.
The next morning, the printer decided to resuscitate itself. It spewed out page after page of my document that had been hiding in the queue. Eventually, it stopped — but not before I added several inches to my pile of recyclable scrap paper. Sometimes, the electronic world imitates life.
How many times have we prayed and prayed, waited and waited, while it seemed heaven itself lived in an introverted silence?
Nothing happens for weeks, months, even years. Our prayers seem stuck in the queue of God’s waiting room. Then suddenly — an avalanche of answered prayers, all bunched up at the same time. We gasp at the range of unexpected blessings and rejoice in the assurance that God surely loves us.
As a writer, sometimes my words get stuck in the creative queue. I’ve never experienced a complete writer’s block, but I do know how to procrastinate and avoid sitting in the chair. What I have discovered is that the discipline produces its own fruit.
Although I may slug through a paragraph or two, if I keep going, keep making the words happen, keep moving my fingers — the creative gift kicks in. I’m in another world for hours.
So what can we learn from our moments stuck in the queue?
Persistence is a Worthwhile Virtue. The best writing evolves as a result of self-discipline. When we give it our best and keep at it, day after day — eventually, we produce good fruit.
Persistence in prayer is a worthwhile venture. Although we may not see the results for a while, eventually the discipline we have learned will result in a stronger soul. Hopefully also a deeper faith in the One who decides how and when to answer those prayers.
Nothing worthwhile happens easily. Even Jesus had to count the cost and persist until his task was finished.
Persistence Requires Patience. Persistence and patience are twins. They sometimes look alike and often require the same disciplines to feed them. But the persistence twin is a process while the patience twin reveals a quality of life.
Patience reminds us to wait, then wait more. When we can no longer stand the wait, persistence digs deep. We learn how much strength authentic waiting requires.
Patience is the months-or-years-long battle, waiting for the chemo to take effect and save a life. Patience allows the preschooler to tie his own shoes even while the school bus honks.
Patience sits beside the Alzheimer’s resident and hears the same questions again and again, then responds with a gentle spirit. Patience gives grace when the addiction festers, but the victim still tries to recover.
Patience learns through the passage of time because it cannot be hurried. If we want the best result, we must not deny the waiting.
The Best Action may be No Action. For planners and doers like me, it feels better to do something. To hit that print button over and over. To unplug and try again and again. But sometimes, the cyberspace universe has to first get its pixels in order and find its missing megabytes.
I don’t even understand its language. How then, can I make it do something?
When we’ve prayed and prayed, waited and persisted yet nothing happens — we can use the prayer of release. Oh God, I can’t stand this, and I absolutely have no clue what to do. Please take over and do whatever you need to do to mend this problem. Help me to rest in you and trust that you know exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it. I give up.
The prayer of release feels counterintuitive to what we’ve been taught about productivity. But even the Psalmist portrayed the same advice, “Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for him and patiently lean yourself upon him. Fret not…” (Psalm 37:7 Amplified).
Be still. Unplug. Stop trying to figure it out. Don’t worry. Let go and let God salve your weary soul.
If we don’t learn how to be still, then we end up with a heap of nothing: wasted words, frustrated prayers, piles of worthless paper.
As we wait in the queue for God to restore and redeem what is so wrong, we can know with faith’s certainty that God does indeed know what he’s doing.
Maybe he’s just waiting for us to unplug and trust him so he can finish the task.
©2023 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Waiting is often a daily practice. Learn more about it in Day by Day: Hope for Senior Wisdom.