Standing in a convenience store this weekend, I heard a song from my junior year of high school being piped in through the store’s speakers. It was one of my all-time favorites back in the day and, when I heard it, I started wondering why I liked it so much because it was quite slow and mellow. Back in 1987, slow and mellow were not exactly the way I was living. I got to listen for about two-thirds of the song because the line in the store was moving slowly. Axl Rose was singing, “Just a little patience, mm yeah, mm yeah…Need a little patience, yeah…Just a little patience, yeah…Some more patience…” If you don’t know this tune from the iconic rock band, Guns N’ Roses, those words will just seem like, well…uhm…words. If you do know the song, you can thank me later for now having it rolling around in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.
Patience. Even those renegade rockers from the 1980’s could grasp the need to slow down life in some seasons and intentionally take your time with things. King Solomon would write it somewhat more astutely when he penned in Proverbs 19:2, “Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” I never thought I would communicate Kingdom truth using Axl Rose and King Solomon together but let’s go ahead and give it a whirl. Today I want to share a few thoughts about the danger of acting in haste, and the reward of waiting with God.
The most regrettable moments in my Christian life arose from hasty conclusions, hasty words and hasty actions. God has gifted me to be clear-thinking and extremely decisive. Unfortunately, when that gift was employed without spiritual maturity governing it, things were set in motion that I could not retrieve in the end. This is the essence of regret. I can recall offering hasty declarations and immediately knowing that I should have held my tongue. In other instances, hasty decisions led me to walk away from difficult situations that would have led to my development had I stayed to work it out. The other side of that coin was experienced when I hastily began endeavors without patient prayer, waiting on the Lord or seeking wise counsel from others. Relationships have been negatively impacted, works were left unfinished, money has been poorly spent and regrets were compiled in my life-story. All because I used my gift of decisiveness independently of guidance of the Lord – all because my hasty feet missed the way. All because, as Solomon said, my impulse in the moment was to give in to a desire that was based in incomplete knowledge. I did not wait for the full picture to manifest and, consequently, in those moments my hasty feet carried me to regrettable places.
As we mature in the faith, God intentionally proves us. He puts us in circumstances where we are in over our head. He thrusts us into scenarios that we have the ability to walk away from if we choose. God immerses us in conflicts that we know we could crush if we gave into the impulse to fight in the flesh. He places difficult people in our lives from whom we cannot get away, but home we could shred with logic if we chose. God confronts us with situations that trigger our fight or flight mechanism. Think about it: when the desire for us to own the moment compels us to fight or flee, the third option of waiting has to come from on high. We have to rely on God. We have to look to Abba and ask, “What should I do here?” You can mark it down, the Father will test us on the principle that the Son spoke to His followers when He said in Luke 21:19, “In your patience you possess your souls.” Father, Son and Holy Spirit are training us to model the submission exemplified by the working within the Godhead itself. Jesus spent the first thirty years of His life waiting on the Father’s timing. He disciplined Himself as a man to only do what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19), and only say what He heard the Father saying (John 12:49). God the Son taught His followers that He did nothing from His own independent initiative (John 5:19). He was patient as He waited on the Father in everything. If Jesus, who IS God, intentionally demonstrated patience in His earthly journey, how much more important is it that we do the same? Perhaps more startling is the declaration of Paul in 1st Timothy 1:16 that Jesus is still patient. He is patient with sinners. He is patient with us. If He was not so, we would be in a whole heap of trouble.
So today, let’s do an analysis of our hearts. Are there things about which you find yourself antsy? Is there a component of your will that is itching to start the fight and end the fight just so you don’t have to wait out the undercurrent of conflict any longer? What about walking away – are you thinking of quitting today? Apart from your commitment to the wisdom of patience, you are susceptible to making decisions in haste that will carry the fragrance of regret for a long time to come.
My advice? Pass the test of the Father as He seeks to make you more like the Son. Pass the test of patience. Refuse your impulse to govern your will. Sit still – physically, mentally and emotionally. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and faith. Ask Jesus to empower you to wait like He waited. Recognize that it is almost always your flesh or the enemy who rushes you to decision. Rarely will you regret slowing down. Never will you regret listening for the Lord. When His presence finds you, so will His peace. Then you will know what to do. In the interim period of waiting, always rest in the reality that you are waiting with Him.
Whether the source is Axl Rose or King Solomon, the call for patience needs to interrupt our plans, arrest our attention and govern our hearts. So much depends on it.