The comma is important. You see, the phrase, “Patience, please!” was not a plea for perseverance or long-suffering; it was merely this former short order grill jockey’s call for one of the waitresses in an all-night burger joint in a restless college town to pick up her most recent order. There was a waitress named Patience and, when her orders were ready, the grill jockeys called out her name, “Patience, please!” Hence the use of the comma…the vocative case, don’t you know. Direct address set off by a comma. [I know, more grammar than you bargained for from a blogster.]
But every time I shouted, “Patience, please!” I was sure that the burger joint’s clientele was hearing a plea for serenity while their burgers and fries and late night breakfast platters were prepared. They thought I was asking them to wait without stress…to wait gracefully, to calm themselves in anticipation of the food that was to be delivered…radiating the steam of freshness…right to their tables and expectant palates. “Patience, please!”
I have to admit that part of me enjoyed the double-edged meaning and that I sometimes shouted, “Patience, please!” when Patience wasn’t even working…just for the fun of it…I’m that weird and sly.
But all that is to say that waiting can be difficult. I’m waiting right now for so many things: for a rescheduled visit to see my Dad, for my own sense of equilibrium in a tougher-than-expected church setting, for a wisp of wisdom about Sunday’s sermonic attempt, for the right words to break through to a college class full of students taking the course only because they must, for winter to be done, for a dose of abiding joy, for some “peace… which transcends understanding [to] guard [my] heart and mind,” for some good and clearing news from a medical practitioner about one for whom I care most deeply. I’m waiting right now. I am waiting and I am hoping for progress on all fronts. But mostly I am just waiting and I.HATE.WAITING.
Call me a product of my micro-waved, instant message culture, if you will. Or maybe just call me self-centered and spiritually bereft if you must (or call me all three if you feel need of an ad hominem trifecta). But I do…hate waiting…that is.
I have much of the world fooled. Outside I present a placid surface that would have driven the Portuguese explorer, Magellan, to nickname me, “Pacifico,” if he had spent time getting to know me instead of wasting his time with exploration of the world’s largest ocean. Inside, however, waiting makes my mind melt and my spirit churn. Having to wait is part of the human condition; me having to wait is part of my human confusion.
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t plan to “go postal” (I do go post, that is, mail things from time-to-time) and I am not one of those maddening, high volume car screamers who pounce on their car horns and wave and shout and give the single-finger salute the very second the street light turns green for the car in the front of the line. [Part of the issue there is that my car horn is not very intimidating…not at all a “manly sounding” car horn…why I can’t get an 18 wheeler tractor’s horn on my Honda is still a mysterious disappointment.] No, I won’t be cuffed and booked and jailed for road rage. But I still hate waiting.
And…truth be told…many of the things for which I wait are just passing elements of the human existence. To be sure, some of them are weighty and worthy objects of concern, but many are not.
So here is the place I try to go: the place of realization that my weighty and worthy objects of concern (and even my lesser objects of concern) are of more concern to God than they are to me. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you,” Peter says. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” Paul says.
Going to God with my concerns helps me on multiple fronts. It helps me discern the weighty from the trivial. It helps me examine my own motives and strip out the selfishness inherent in nearly everything I do and worry about. It helps me focus my attention on those things that make a difference. It helps me regain my spiritual equilibrium and look back to those times of God’s provision in the past to find the encouragement that He will meet the needs of this day and the next. It helps me to stay closer to Jesus and His Spirit from whom I am energized in my own spirit to know patience (not the waitress, but the quality).
Looking back over this brief post, it strikes me as trite, void of answers and helpful prescription for “better” moments in the waiting. I was hoping for more. But sometimes in the waiting, there is only waiting.
“Patience please!” [No comma; all command; all I have.]
© All rights reserved. Scripture from the NIV, Zondervan.