Yesterday morning, I was in the coffee place (a different one than normal). Two employees, behind the counter, were talking. They were talking a little too loudly. They talked about money. One said, "I needed to give ___ (daughter’s name) some money this morning, but I didn’t have very much." The other woman said, "Why didn’t you just get some cash off your credit card." Her friend replied, "That comes back to bite you at the end of the month. I already have one card maxed out and I am paying interest." Her friend? "I have four cards maxed out right now."
A few years ago, I was talking with a young banker at our church. I had noticed that he and his wife, both of them bankers, seemed to be very careful with their spending. On the other hand, I had noticed that many young couples, both in and out of our church, were driving expensive SUVs, buying very expensive homes, and taking expensive trips. I told my friend what I was seeing. I asked my friend, "Where are these people getting this money?" His reply. "Well, let me put it this way. It is true that some of these couples make a lot of money. But a lot of what you see is debt. There are some people who appear to be doing quite well financially. They are actually in a great deal of debt." Hmmm. Things are not always as they might appear.
Last night, I talked with my friend Doug. We talked about the kind of environment in which most of us live and work. In this cultural environment, we do not want to wait — for anything. What we want should happen now!
- McDonald’s — Who wants to wait in line? Drive through. A few cars? Go somewhere else. We want to eat now.
- The microwave — Have you ever found yourself impatient as you waited all of 60 seconds?
- Cars — The dumbest purchase I ever made was a Toyota 4Runner that we could not afford at the time. I rationalized and then tried to justify the purchase. I drove it for eight months before selling it. Why did I buy it? I thought I had to have it right then!
- Technology — You call him on his cell phone. You can’t believe he doesn’t immediately pick up! We e-mail someone and would like a response in a few minutes. We are impatient.
- Coaches — Win now or hit the road!
Meanwhile, the Psalmist speaks of "waiting on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14; 37:7; 130:5). Wait! Who has time to do that? Something ought to be happening now! Yet, what is faith?
- Faith is not instant.
- Faith is not an overnight thing.
- Faith is not magic.
Faith often takes time. Faith is often difficult. Faith is often formed as we live moment by moment learning to trust in the Lord. Faith is not necessarily a flawless, perfect trust. Rather, it is a process of learning to walk with Jesus over time.
Maybe that is why one father would say to Jesus a long time ago: "I believe. Help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).
Meanwhile, here we are, living in a culture that calls for no delay — in most everything. How do you function in a world that encourages impatience and immediate gratification? What has been helpful to you in dealing with this?