Today, I went to have my oil changed after work. I was a little overdue for the service, and I had a coupon for $10 off. Today seemed like the day to do it.
When I got to the service station, there was just one person in front of me. Since I was meeting a friend in a little more than an hour, I was thrilled with my luck. I would be in and out in a jiffy. And while I was there, I inquired about getting my air conditioning serviced. After a few minutes on the computer, the manager said he could do it, but it would be about an hour. I looked at my watch, and realized that it would make the evening tight. But I had a book, and there was a Starbucks next door. Sure, why not.
Throughout this entire exchange, there was another lady there also getting her oil changed and air conditioning serviced. We chatted briefly, and then each went our ways. When I got to Starbucks, she was there. So again, chit chat and goodbye.
When I finally got back to the service station, after waiting an hour, I realized the lady I had spoken to was still there. And her car was in front of mine. There would definitely be more waiting.
While we waited, I realized that I was going to miss meeting my friend, and since I had left my cell phone at home, I wouldn’t even be able to call there. Then there was the issue of everything I needed to get done tonight. But the peace the Lord led me to yesterday continued in my heart, and I waited.
Finally, after the two episodes of pleasantries, I finally sat down with the other woman who was waiting. I found out it was her birthday, and she was a single mother. She talked with me about her divorce 15 years earlier, and her career as a court reporter. When we began talking about her children, the issue of spirituality and faith came up. “We’ve never really been spiritual people,” she said. “Well, spiritual, maybe, but not religious.” I asked her how she defined spiritual, she hesitated a moment, not wanting to offend me, then began talking about her Catholic school experiences, and her struggles with the things she was taught as a child.
A couple of minutes later, the manager came over to us both. The other lady’s car would take another 30 minutes. He asked me if I could come back Thursday, at which time he would give me 20 percent off and free Freon if I needed it. When I found myself wishing the waiting didn’t have to end, I realized how directly it was connected to the blessings of the conversation (and to the discount!). Waiting, no matter how uncomfortable, always has a purpose.
I’m having a hard time staying in the wilderness the past few days. When it was cold outside, and everything was brown and dreary, the wilderness experiences of self reflection and abstention seemed to fit. But now that Spring has come, with all her warmth and beauty, I am totally distracted. All I can think about now is how many days until Easter, when Lent will finally be over.
Being impatient in the wilderness isn’t a new experience for me. I’ve always had a hard time bearing up under difficulty and waiting for God’s timing in the resolution. Even now, I am in the middle of a very daunting legal issue with my new house that has been going on for months. Some days, I nearly explode with anxiety over having to wait for a resolution. The circumstances are awkward, the outcome is uncertain, and I feel totally out of control. There’s a system in place to resolve the matter, however, and to try to speed it up or bypass the system will only produce negative results. The Lord is asking me to wait.
I know the same thing is at work here in the wilderness. There are blessings, like my conversation at the service station, that will only come if I stay put. And oh, after five weeks in the wilderness, I do want the blessings that only come from waiting.