We're taught to want things immediately, faster, sooner...now, now, now. We're impatient when things don't happen quickly, and if we have to wait for something we'll often take a different option rather than wait.
I get impatient if a webpage takes more than 10 seconds to load. And if it takes more than 30...well, you may as well forget it.
So when God says
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come." Mark 13:32-33
So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Matthew 24:43-44
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
this has been interpreted as soon. Our definition of soon. As in, "Ok, I'm ready, where are you?"
But we've been interpreting it as our definition of soon for 2000 years or so.
And I'm sure most of us can think of other times in our lives where we've felt like God was saying he was going to do something, something we needed to be ready for. So we got ready. And then waited. A day, a week, a couple of months. Then when nothing happened, we either got angry at God for not keeping his word, or angry at ourselves for thinking it was God when it wasn't.
Only to discover, maybe even years later, that God's timing wasn't ours. We waited a few months, he was working over a few years. Even a lifetime.
The world teaches us to be impatient, to want things fast and now. The eternal God's definition of now, of soon, is vastly different to ours.
God keeps reminding me of this. He keeps saying to me "What is one year compared to eternity? What is one lifetime compared to Forever?"
That's a frustrating thought when we're in the midst of something we want to change. But it's actually a comforting thought when we really think about it. We know God always keeps his word, so when we know he's not acting immediately on our terms, we can be assured he's got the bigger picture in mind. If God was like the ancient Greek and Roman gods acting on fallible human whims and impulses we'd be in a whole lot of trouble.
We can be thankful God is eternal and knows a bigger picture than we can ever comprehend. Sometimes we just need to be patient.
So why does he use words like 'Now is the time', 'Be alert. Be on guard', 'You must be ready' when he wants us to be patient?
Because patience is not necessarily passive. Patience shouldn't go hand in hand with idleness or complacency. He wants us to wait with expectancy.
So if you are waiting for something, wait with patience, but with hope and expectancy. Expect that God will do great things. For he will, and he already is, even though you may not know it. And it may not come in the form you imagine or want, but we can always be assured of God's perfect Love and Goodness. He will be everything you need.
Wait! Good things are coming! Wait! Never before has the word wait seemed so exciting and promising!
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14