A friend of mine told me last week that God was teaching him a lesson, and teaching him how to wait.

In my travels as a "Christian" I have learned that the lesson on "waiting" is a very common one. I have also learned that God is very busily making everyone wait until the very last moment, until that time when he delievers what they have been praying for.

I see two things wrong with this approach to God. The first is, why does God have to single out one request, one moment in time, and one event in order to teach us anything? The second is, what are we asking God to do?

Most often, the whole "patience" thing has to do with money. My friend told me there were many times that he was waiting for God to deliver some work to his business so he could pay his bills and not have to worry anymore. I asked if he really thought he'd stop worrying if God lined up a year's worth of work for him. He said he might, but his brother (who shares the business with him) would not. But his main focus wasn't on the amount of work; rather it focused on the timing of God's answer.

So I asked, "Do you think God is MAKING you wait?"

He answered, "Yes, why else would it be taking so long?"

I guess at this point the only thing I could tell my friend was that I don't think God singles out particular "prayer requests" in order to teach us lessons. I told him what I believed, that God uses all things, not just particular instances which we might have noticed, to help us learn and understand our part in this world. I think our trouble often is that we view God as being as small as we are, in which he can only focus on one single event. Yet I have noticed (when I pay attention) that every event is used to form us and teach us. That God is so big that he doesn't need one single blowout event to get our attention, and that He teaches and loves even when we don't pay attention to what He might be "doing" in our lives.

I don't think God makes us wait. There, I said it. I know at times it SEEMS like He is making us wait, but somehow, I can't picture God as standing in heaven trying to decide if we have learned our "lesson" well enough yet. I think God desires that we would do as He does, remain on the job, steadily moving forward, and trusting His care. I don't think God is "waiting".

So why do so many believers talk about the "lesson" they learned when God made them wait? Why is this such a common theme amongst people? My opinion is that this is caused by the way we were taught to meet God, and pray. My suspicion is that we pray as if God is inanimate, delivering answers to prayer like some sort of PEZ dispenser where all we have to do is say the magic words, and PRESTO, another little purple piece of candy pops out of God's mouth.

My opinion is that books like The Prayer of Jabez (Notice I didn't include a link to Amazon.com, thank God) and others like it do a disservice to the intelligence of believers all over the globe. We are taught to pray for every instance, and I admit that I used to pray for God to grant me a sunny day for my vacation, and light traffic for my travels. How ridiculous is that?How selfish is that?

Waiting is something we are not naturally good at. Yet we wait for nearly everything. Maybe we learn the lesson to wait by paying attention to just how much we actually "wait" in any given day, rather than needing God to deliver a loud event in order to teach us our lesson.

"What is God doing in your life?"

Better have an answer ready for that one. It's becoming a popular question amongst Christians, and the answer had better be long, detailed, and huge.

Currently, I haven't got the foggiest idea what God is doing in my life. But I am pretty sure He isn't making me wait.

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