The car was designed to get people from point A to point B. Henry Ford brought convenience to the American family by putting a box on four wheels and giving it a motor. The world became smaller. Miles became just a number and no longer constrained the traveling soul. People could move to areas that were once remote. The landscape of our country changed forever.
When Ford came up with this genius idea I doubt he knew what else he was creating: a box with all the elements needed to bring the human patience to its breaking point. It is practically a torture chamber for the short fused. To start with, it is a small space in which you must be seated. Forget pacing, which some nervous Nelly types are prone to. If you are anxious, annoyed or peeved you have to sit there, tapping the foot is as far as nervous energy can take you. Secondly, you are surrounded by other similar boxes, all directed by people who have minds of their own. Uh-oh. People do crazy things and they don't stop when they get behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes other drivers make an honest mistake - pull out in front of another car, forget a turning signal or get confused at a traffic circle. But other drivers are just plain nuts. They race around at speeds that make your head spin, weave in and out of traffic, or, if you are in Florida or northern Pennsylvania, drive at speeds that make a snail look quick.
The third, and sometimes most trying, aspect of driving can be the other passengers. If you put people in a confined area together for extended periods of time chances are someone is going to hit a nerve somewhere along the highway. Maybe it is the husband who won't stop for directions. The mother who keeps making wrong turns. Or it could be the daughter who gets an attitude. Lock people in a metal box and the possibilities are endless.
If those passengers happen to be kids then good luck. Crying is a given. Whining is expected. The words "Are we there yet?" becomes a mantra. Kids don't seem to grasp the concept of miles and time when it comes to car travel. They may ask how much longer and get the response of three hours. Thirty minutes later they come back asking how much longer, only to be surprised when the answer isn't five minutes but is still upwards of two hours. A watched pot never boils and kids asking "are we there yet?" never get their desired response.
I must admit that sometimes I can be child like in the car. I swear to you, time stops. It must. Because there are times when a car trip that should have felt quick and easy feels like an eternity. There have been road trips that have felt like each mile took ten minutes even though it really only lasted sixty seconds. I'm antsy. I want out. I don't want to sit on my butt one minute longer. I confess, my patience can run as thin as a five year old's.
I wish I could say that my patience was better off the road and out of the car but I would be fudging the truth. In line at the grocery store I scan each line for the youngest cashier (they are always faster) and the least number of customers with the fewest items in their cart. I don't want to wait longer than necessary. I'm impatient.
When ordering out at restaurants I want to order the first time the waitress comes to the table. Forget the first stop for drinks and second for food - I want to condense the process. Get on with it! The sooner I tell you what I want, the sooner you punch my order into the little screen and the faster the cooks make it. Then, tada, the quicker it is in front of me at my table. I don't want to waste time. I tend to be impatient.
That brings me to a more serious issue of impatience: my health. Not to sound strong and mighty, but through most of my health ordeal I have remained patient. My faith has kept me pushing forward, searching for an answer to this mystery, trusting that God is in control. As I flew to Seattle I was hopeful that the doctor there would be able to treat me successfully. Even though that didn't work I didn't give up. I went to California with the same hope and the same enthusiasm for answers. That fell flat, too. But I still held onto faith and went to Florida full of assurance that this time, the answers would be found.
Low and behold, I started getting better. During that time it was easy to be patient. In fact, I was thrilled and enjoyed the baby steps of progress. Impatience wasn't on the radar screen. That is until I took a sharp turn for the worse. The few pounds I had gained slipped away (again), my energy took a nose dive and troubling symptoms resurfaced. The doctor assured me that I would see progress AFTER three months of treatment. At this point I'm at a month and a half. I can't expect my health to be back on a steady course yet. I'm only half way there.
I should be hopeful and upbeat. I'm half way to the three month mark! The end of this two year saga is coming to a close! Yet, I'm more impatient than I've ever been. I'm not impatient in a sense of hopelessness or lack of faith. I'm impatient to find out if this will work. I'm impatient to know how God is going to use me. Will he keep me in this ill health and use me to further his kingdom that way? Or is it his will to heal me and use me that way?
My life is stalled out, and I'm waiting for jumper cables. Bottom line is I don't have a clue when they will arrive. For all I know, they may never come. I may have to resort to lacing up my sneakers and continuing on foot.
And this is where my impatience sets in. I want to know if this treatment will work or if this is going to my life forever and ever amen. Am I destined for an existence of health trouble? The doctor says three months, and although I do trust him, I know God doesn't heal everyone. I know there are people that he lets live for him with health struggles and disabilities. That doesn't mean they can't be powerful for the Lord. Some of those people are the strongest voices for his love, grace and mercy. I don't understand why God allows those people to suffer. I remind myself that Paul, the author of 14 books of the Bible, endured a thorn in his flesh. Although I don't know what that thorn was exactly I do know that thorns hurt and I wouldn't want one stuck in my body for the rest of my life just as much as I don't want to be stuck at this weight. Paul had an unpleasant affliction to bear. If he had to deal with such an undesirable circumstance why should believers today be immune?
Answer: we shouldn't be immune. And we aren't.
There are moments when my patience for suffering wears thin. I want to know the future. I don't want to be left in the dark any longer. But God doesn't want me to know the future. He doesn't want me to be out of my health crisis yet. He wants me to grow in patience.
As Mom and I traveled back from Florida I couldn't help but see the patience I needed in the form of Pippy. Once again, her life lessons were being spoken through her calm, peaceful slumber in the back seat. She was being patient. She didn't know how much longer she would be in the car. She can't ask "Are we there yet?" and even if I told her the miles left to travel it wouldn't make a difference to her.
That should be my attitude towards life, too. I shouldn't be concerned about asking God to speed up his time table or reveal to me what he has in store for my future. I should be more concerned with waking up each day and living in obedience to him, worshiping him for the gift of life he has given me each day. He has sustained me through shockingly low weight and troubling symptoms. He has kept me safe through countless miles traveled on the search for answers. I have so much to be thankful for. My focus should be on who God is and what he has done for me. He is a God of love and he is unfailingly faithful. He gave his only Son so that I could experience eternity with him and be saved from my sinful ways.
If I am healed, I don't deserve it. If I am not healed, I don't deserve it. I am a fallen, sinful, inadequate human who is only saved by the unfathomable grace of God. Everything I have is a gift. Each day is a present wrapped in sparkling paper, topped with a massive bow.
I am at the mercy of his timing and his will. No matter how he chooses to use me, I am here for the long haul. I am his for eternity.
I am throwing impatience out the window. I am resting in my Savior's faithfulness, knowing full well that I may never get what looks like a desirable outcome on this side of heaven. But that is only because human vision is so limited. I know that the God's will is best and I am standing firm in that truth.