Continuing a theme (coincidentally) from earlier this week: waiting. We don’t like waiting. Life is too short. We already sleep away about one-third of it. In the United States, people spend 112 hours (more than four days) per year waiting in line, and up until the COVID pandemic, a commuter spent an average of 38 hours waiting in traffic annually (reference.com). Many, if not most, of us can become pretty frustrated by the need to wait.
While many businesses have been built around the idea of minimal or no waiting, how often do the things that really matter in life come immediately?
The Parable of the New Shoes reflects some experiences I’ve had—not with soccer, but with waiting for something I really wanted. Something I prayed repeatedly over weeks, months, or years for and felt like it was a righteous desire. And I’m not talking about just one thing.
In the parable, Niall wants a specific pair of shoes for playing his favorite sport. He makes sure his mother knows exactly what he wants, and then he optimistically expects to receive it. After all, his mother loves him, right? And his birthday is coming up, right? How obvious could it be that he should get what he wants at the time he wants it?
However, his wise mother sees a little ways into the future. She knows that he’ll soon outgrow the shoes he asked for, and she finds out that there’s a better pair of shoes out there. In the meantime, she gives him a new jersey and shorts so that when he receives new shoes, he’ll have a completely new outfit. His mother knew what he needed, and it was better than what he had asked for. Niall just had to wait.
Here’s one example of when this principle has operated in my life.
When I was about to graduate from Utah State University, I interviewed for jobs in the technical communication field. A couple of prospects seemed promising, but they didn’t pan out. I ended up taking temp work and then getting a tech writer internship after a couple of months. Instead of a full-time job with benefits, I was earning an hourly wage with little indication that it would turn into something permanent. But I jumped in, grateful to now have a job for which my degree had prepared me.
About ten months later, my employer extended the opportunity to move into a contract position with higher pay and some benefits, a big step up. And a year after that, I became a full-time employee, and my situation has, for the most part, improved from there over the years. But when I was still an intern and trying to figure out what I was going to do when my internship ended, I applied for an editing and proofreading job in a different part of the organization. I wasn’t sure if I wanted the job, but it would be a marked improvement from an internship. About that time I visited the temple in my area and was praying about that job, and I received an answer that if I was extended it I could take it if I chose, but something better was coming. So I decided to wait for that better thing, and only a few weeks later, it came.
As human beings, we can be so shortsighted and get hung up on what we want in the short term. I don’t intend to say that we shouldn’t pray earnestly and explain our position to Heavenly Father on a particular topic and why we feel we need a particular thing. He wants us to use our intellect and think things through, and then to talk it over with Him as we would with any trusted advisor. But at the same time, we have the responsibility, after we have provided Him with our point of view, to allow His will to prevail by bringing our will in line with His. And many times, that means waiting for Him who governs the universe to align events for our good. I believe that what He wants for me is orders of magnitude better than what I in my limited vision want for myself.
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So true! The Lord’s will AND His timing are essential elements for the answers we seek. I am in the midst of my own waiting period. I want something very badly, and it seems to me that what I want could only be considered a good thing. But God knows me, and He knows the other people involved in my quest for a miracle. I believe He has the power to grant my desire. Jesus showed us limitless power over the elements and circumstances of our mortal bodies and the very elements that surround us. I don’t want anything as dramatic as raising the dead, and I know He can do it. But I wait. God knows my propinsity to squander His blessings. I can be like the children of Israel in the wilderness eating miraculous manna every day and complaining that it doesn’t taste like chicken. So, I keep waiting. And with the waiting comes heightened appreciation and deeper commitment. If God can’t trust me with a miracle in this life, I may have to wait for the resurrection. But one way or the other, I know God will not let me down, even while He lets me wait.
Thanks for sharing that, David. I hope that while you’re waiting and praying, you and your loved ones receive His peace.