The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
As we sat enjoying Sunday breakfast, we noticed a steady stream of Classic Cars [i.e. the cars of my youth] travelling past our drive. By 9 am, as we headed off to Crowfield for our first service of the morning, the village was almost at a standstill; showtime at Stonham Barns. Normally it takes me 5 minutes to drive to Crowfield church. Last Sunday it took at least 15. Traffic jams are frustrating.
If you were in church on Sunday you may have heard the story of a woman who came and asked Jesus to cure her sick daughter (Matt 16:21-28). Jesus’ initial response appeared to be simply to ignore her. Sitting in the early morning traffic queue, that set me thinking. Jesus does quite a lot of uncomfortable waiting. When told that his friend Lazarus was ill, he deliberately waited 2 days before going to see him; by which time Lazarus had died (John 11). When asked to pronounce sentence on a woman caught in adultery, he stooped and silently wrote in the dust (John 8:1-11). Centuries earlier the prophet Samuel tested King Saul by keeping him waiting for an important sacrifice (1 Sam 13). On that occasion Saul got impatient and made the sacrifice by himself; that was his downfall.
Real-time, instantaneous communication across the globe; next day delivery; instant credit: we live in a world of instant gratification. Emails, texts and tweets demand immediate responses. So it goes on. Waiting is associated with frustration or poor service. Yet still God waits. God works a different timeline to us. We rush because we are impatient, God waits because God is patient: hence my opening verse from St Peter.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Next time you are stuck in a queue, next time your prayer is answered by silence; remember this. God waits. Above all else, God waits until we are ready to listen, and listening, to hear and respond.
Rev Philip Payne The Notice Sheet for 27 August can be found here