Recently, I went on a trip to Greece with my wife’s family. Her family is Greek, and this was a trip envisioned by her grandmother years ago. Finally, it came to fruition. At points, there were fourteen of us all traveling together in a foreign country where most of us could not speak the language or read the signs. The group ranged in age from 71 years old to a toddler learning to walk.
Anyone who has traveled in groups knows that getting everyone to move together can be, well, challenging. One family wants to go here, another there. One person wanders into a store, and the next thirty minutes are spent trying to figure out where everyone is.
These days coordinating a group is done rather simply - everyone has a cell phone and if someone is missing, within seconds they are called and everyone is back on track. But because we were in Europe, we didn’t have our cell phones. This group of fourteen that usually would have eight cell phones between us had one.
So, we had to coordinate a bit more carefully. If we were splitting up, we would arrange a meeting point a few hours later. And inevitably one group would not show up on time. With no way to call, we had to sit and wait for them. And as the time went by, the patience would run thin.
We are used to calling and getting an immediate response. If someone is five minutes late to a meeting, we call or text. If we are going to be late to an appointment, common courtesy dictates that we call or text to let the person know exactly where we are, exactly when we will arrive and exactly how long they will need to wait for us. If there is traffic, the app on our phone tells us exactly how long we will be in traffic, and we let people know. We are used to immediate information when we need it. Our cell phones have taken away much of the uncertainty. Because of cell phones, we don’t need to wait, and we don’t need to be patient. Because of cell phones, we know exactly when people are arriving and where everyone is. Parents get their kids cell phones because they want to know exactly where they are at all times. And if we don't find out where our kids or our friends are immediately, we begin to worry and wonder what happened. We must know exactly what is happening when and with whom at every moment.
I have seen this cell phone mentality infiltrate my prayer life. I pray, but then I expect God to call or text immediately. I expect God to tell me exactly where God is, exactly when God will act and exactly how it will turn out. But God usually doesn’t work like a cell phone. God wants us to be patient. God wants us to trust. God will move when it is best for us, and we often don’t know when that will be.
When we were in Greece, we had to be patient. We couldn’t call. We couldn’t get an exact time of when they were coming and where they were. We just had to trust that they would show up. And you know what, they did. Every time, they showed up. Maybe a little late. Maybe after a little uncertainty, but they always showed up. Much like how God has promised to always show up when we meet up with Him.
In Hosea 12:6 it says, “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.“ God has given us a meeting place. God has told us to share love and justice with this world. God has given us a plan for what to be doing in this world. And as we do that, God speaks to us.
God has promised that we can trust Him. God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. So, the next time you get impatient because God isn’t texting you back, step back and trust that God is with you. God will show up at the right time and in the right place. Our job is to be patient, keep meeting God in the space of love and justice and know that God is there and will show up when it is best for us.