I sat there in Starbucks after my coffee meeting was over, notebook spread in front of me, hot panini steaming at my side, waiting. Impatient for some words of wisdom to come to me. Impatient to be writing something “important.” Impatient to know what God wanted me to learn.
And as I sat there and listened – listened to the conversations around me – listened to the barista call out the bathroom code over and over – listened to the throaty hiss of steaming milk – listened to the door swing open and shut – the irony hit me.
He wanted me to learn a lesson about impatience.
And oh, is this heart ever impatient. Impatient with shoppers who walk too slowly in front of me. Impatient with students who won’t stop talking. Impatient with myself for not doing better. Impatient to know the next part of my story already. Impatient when life doesn’t go the way I want it to.
In that space, my anxious mind slowed down, and suddenly the words became crystal clear …
Impatient heart, it’s time to learn the meaning of what quiet can teach you.
Impatient heart, it’s time to stop reaching for artificial satisfactions.
Impatient heart, it’s time to listen instead of being distracted.
Impatient heart, it’s time to examine what you are using to fuel your heart desires.
Impatient heart, it’s time to be honest about your idols and your affections.
Impatient heart, it’s time to relinquish your wants to your vastly greater need for your Savior.
Impatient heart, it’s time you learned that God always has purposes for waiting – and if you try to bypass them, you miss out on the sweetness of what He wants to teach you.
When we fill our world with noise and distraction, we won’t hear the whispers of God’s comfort and sustenance to get us through periods of waiting.
When we become used to artificial satisfactions, we won’t be able to recognize the depth of meaning that real satisfaction can give us.
When we fill our thoughts with influences from the media, they only fuel our impatience more – whereas when we fill them with God’s Word, they calm under His quiet promises.
When we allow our impatience to dictate our decisions to get what we idolize, they rarely turn out for the best.
When we trust a heart that is consumed more with self-gratification instead of God-glorification, we end up making erroneous judgments that turn into regrettable mistakes.
When we try to ignore the idea that there could be purposes for waiting, we are denying the sovereignty of God that has built waiting periods into our lives on purpose.
Impatient hearts are a sign of our struggle of desires – a desire for more, a desire for different, a desire for “better,” a desire for now.
And when we recognize this struggle, we can start noticing its origin and its fuel … and start surrendering to God’s plan for our lives.
Recognizing this impatience in my heart takes a great deal of humility, which I’m not the best at. But when I recognize it, and then repent of it, I find such great relief.
Relief because I’m handing my supposed “control” over my life to the One who actually knows what He’s doing. Relief because impatience is draining when I can’t change my circumstances. Relief because I can trust in my Father who lovingly guides each footstep.
And when I can’t seem to rid myself of my impatience, I have to ask God to conform my desires to His … because there will be no true rest in the soul until He does so.
It’s just as Amy Carmichael says in one of my favorite poems of hers –
“And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no, that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.
“I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire –
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging –
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.
“And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved’s leisure,
At last, even as a weaned child.”
My impatient heart needs these prayers on a daily basis. But when I learn to slow, to listen, and to wait – I hear the melody of Christ’s redemptive work in me so clearly. He alone can give this heart the rest it so desperately needs.