“Road hazard ahead in three miles. You are still on the fastest route.”
Shannan and I were trekking north when the GPS Girl notified me of the pending road conditions. This was not the first, nor would it be the last, of such announcements:
“Accident ahead in two miles. You’re still on the fastest route.”
“Lane closure ahead in two and one-half miles. You’re still on the fastest route.”
“Road hazard ahead in one mile. You’re still on the fastest route.”
Each navigational warning was followed by her breezy, “You’re still on the fastest route.” I wondered, “When did ‘the fastest route’ define my journey’s success?
Back in 1992, the country band, Alabama, released the song, “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why).” It’s one of my favorites. The lyrics describe individual exasperation as well as a cultural obsession.
I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why
While hurry is high on our priority list, it is not on God’s. The Lord is reminding me of that truth as I read through Samuel and Chronicles. Case in point. Some fifteen to twenty years elapse from the time David is anointed King (1 Samuel 16) until the combined kingdoms of Judah and Israel are under his reign.
Think about it. That’s the time elapse from birth through high school. It is the budding physician’s long educational crawl through undergrad, medical school, and lengthy residencies.
That is a long time!
God offers no apologies or explanations for the lengthy delay, just occasional hints that the pause between the promise and delivery on the promise is going to be a long one:
And the number of days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. 1 Samuel 27:7 ESV
And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. 2 Samuel 2:11 ESV
There was a long war between the house of Saul and the house of David. And David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul became weaker and weaker. 2 Samuel 3:1 ESV
And I get frustrated when I have to wait on the light at Glades and St. Andrews!
There were times when David could have taken the “faster route” to the throne. David could have blind-sided Saul in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 24), or pinned him to the ground with one thrust of his spear when Saul camped at the hill of Hachilah (1 Samuel 26). David’s response on both occasions was similar:
David knew there was a purpose to the wait. God was in control. God was working His plan. God could be trusted.
Can I say the same?
“God, you are in control.” “God, you are working your plan.” “God, I can trust you!”
Besides, all the waiting was not without it’s rewards,
David became an eye-witness to God as Promise Keeper.
David’s character grew in ways that only come when forged by fiery trials.
David experienced a relationship with the living God that was personal and deep.
Ok, I get it. God was at work in David’s “wait.” But what about me? I’m not seeing him come through. My character is shaky, and I am not feeling particularly close to God.
What do I do?
I remember the gospel?
Paul grounds our subjective feelings of “It’s going to be okay” to the objective reality of the cross:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NIV
We rest in lengthy periods of waiting, remembering Jesus’ work on our behalf at the cross is the guarantee of his work in our lives present and future.
“Life hazard ahead in two months. You may not be on the ‘fastest route,’ but it is going to be okay!”
David and Paul are convincing me, when it comes to seeing and experiencing God, it’s worth the wait.
Note: I am indebted to the ESV Study Bible (notes on Romans 5:1-6), for helping me understand and communicate the truth, “Paul grounds the subjective experience of God’s love (v. 5) in the objective work of Christ on the cross.”