Delayed Lessons

trafficOn our way to Gatlinburg, TN for vacation one year, we planned on spending the night in Cincinnati just beyond the Ohio River. A 1/2 hour before reaching our hotel, we met a traffic jam and quickly exited the highway to find an alternate route.

Simply put, there was no alternate route across the river. So we went back to the highway to wait, but traffic had already cleared. We got to our hotel 15 minutes later.

Our culture seems averse to waiting. From small to big events in life, we live in an delay-avoidance culture. Unfortunately, this leads to underdeveloped faith & character because we attempt to force progress instead of going through the learning process.

Chapter 6 of Bob Sorge’s book, The Fire of Delayed Answers, focuses on  Jesus’ Teachings on Delays. This seemingly unimportant travel event in my life took on significance as I read this chapter because I realized that if I am unable to handle a small traffic delay, I probably need to look at how I am handling (or more accurately, avoiding) larger delays.

waitRecalling this event in light of Jesus’ teachings on delay, I realized that…

  1. Attempting to avoid delay often causes longer delays. We lost a 1/2 hour searching for an alternate route, by rushing to find a solution when waiting was actually best.
  2. Knowing why a delay takes place isn’t necessary. In many cases, traffic just suddenly disappears without a clear cause. Can’t we ever accept that delays just happen, and we won’t and don’t always need to know why?
  3. Growing tired is often a sign to wait. We just wanted to get to our hotel and should have known that fatigue compromised our decision-making abilities.  Waiting is often the best choice when you’re tired.
  4. Expecting delays should be automatic in our thinking. We’ve all driven enough to know that delays happen, and we should focus on being thankful to get through them safely and then definitely thankful when travel goes smoothly.
  5. Desiring instant gratification often overrides good decision making. Wanting to get somewhere “Now!” often skews our ability to make good decisions. How many times have you waited before making a decision and then been so thankful that you waited? How many times did you make a hasty decision only to learn later that waiting would have made the decision unnecessary?

The inability to wait leads to a host of issues. We know that being faithful in the small things leads to being trusted with bigger responsibility, so if we’re unable to wait in some slow traffic who are we to expect to be trusted to wait out the maturation process needed in bigger events of life? A process that requires delays & waiting.

The following quote from Sorge illustrates the over-arching lesson well and makes even more significant application.

“In the face of delayed answers, it takes great faith to persevere in seeking only the face of God – to “cry out day and night to Him” Because your mind will imagine all kinds of other possible sources of relief you could conceivably pursue. Your creativity will spring to life, and it will in fact militate against your faith. There are many who give up the pursuit of God at this point, their faith collapses, and they seek out another source of help.”

DISCUSSION: What lessons have you learned through the delays of life?

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other active participants include Dusty, Glynn, Joell, TC and Rick.  If you know of others, please leave a link for their post in the comments.

30 thoughts on “Delayed Lessons

  1. Good post on delays. In some ways, it fits with the last two learning times with the youth group.

    Expect trouble and be glad when it shows up. Why? Because God uses it to deepen our character.

    • Great summary of the point, Tom. Our culture is one of avoidance, and that is largely why solid character is getting more difficult to find. My boys & I talk about this to some extent. I tell them that having Godly character will set them apart more and more as they get older.

  2. Sometimes it is hard to live with delays once you have prayed about something. We know God can act now if he chooses. It is hard to wait in pain for relief knowing this. Trying to get relief from pain leads to bad decisions. We have got to learn to trust God with delays even as they hurt us and trust His love for us.

    • So very true, Mark! And I am noticing this truth in both the big and very small details of life. God wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives, and He will use every detail to shape us if we'll let Him.

  3. For some reason, #4 stuck out to me. Whether it's a delay, or a fire that came up at work that needs to be dealt with, there seem to always be things to take up our time and take us off our intended plan. That's something we need to adapt to and to expect.

    • I think I need to go back to my reply to your comment on the post, "Do what you say you're going to do…" because for me it's the same solution. Simplifying has had this happen a lot less. Sure, there are problems that others cause for a variety of reasons, but I find that the simpler and more focused my life is, the less rattled I get at these "delays" and the less they seem like interruptions. It seems like a simpler life allows me to see them more as opportunities, if that makes sense.

  4. #5 is my problem. I'd much rather have fun than keep working with life is hard. In fact I'm doing it right now. Coming to your blog for fun when I should be doing my boring writing! Better get back to work!

    • First, let me just say that I am glad that my blog is fun for you. Even if it distracted you, at least your distraction was an encouragement to me. Second, I totally understand wanting to do something else to distract myself from the hard work of life. But, as long as we're struggling, we're not giving in, right? I see too many people totally giving in. Keep it up Barb!

  5. That's actually really encouraging, Kari. I tend to look at struggle as failure and it's not uncommon for me to have a writing day that is pure struggle. But you're right, struggle is a victory because we haven't given up. Here's to the struggle! I also just prayed through a bunch of Bible verses. That was helpful. Love this one: Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

    • My pastor uses that phrase when he talks about teens who struggle with drugs or sex or peer pressure. He says that if a teen is struggling, he/she isn't giving in. I believe that rings true for all of us. And you going to your list of verses whenever you struggle is a terrific example for all of us to follow. I have a similar approach, and in fact need to do it right now. Been "struggling" with some anxiety that I cannot pinpoint. Ugh!

        • prayers Kari. I think it is the season. Remember satan knows each weakness and will do his best to use it against us any way he can. But if we "wait on the Lord" we will find our way through and be better in the end. Thanks for this good post. Out here on the road you see you share of traffic jams, and then in everyday life there are all those things that pop up unexpectedly to deal with, changes in plans that make you wait instead of doing something now. Just thought…wait is a 4 letter word, which can be good or bad, because so is love.

          • A truck driver certainly can say a lot about waiting, that I know for sure. And about changes in plans too. Probably more than most people, actually. Thank you for the prayers. You are such an encouragement to me!

          • glad to help! I feel that is my ministry right now, to pray and offer encouragement when I can, and also to develop some deeper thoughts on some of life's finer points. thanks for helping me do that.

  6. This book is teaching me so much about WAITING.

    As I read your post I began thinking about how I like to leave early to make it to appointments- I like to leave room in case I get stuck in traffic.

    This helped me realize I should start expecting delays- this will help me not get irritated when I'm stuck behind a slow driver. It will also allow me to take the time to enjoy the journey.

    I don't want to rush, to make bad decisions. I'm slowly learning to WAIT. And as I slow down, I'm learning to hear God. Right now, I'm tired. It's forcing me to WAIT.

    Thanks, I really liked this post.

    • How I view waiting has definitely been challenged as I read this book too, TC. And I'm seeing it in big and small events of life. I am learning to plan for times of waiting. I am also learning to not rush. The biggest area God is working with me on involves writing & reading. He is teaching me to take my time & enjoy the journey. I can do both very quickly, but I am missing out on a lot when I do either too quickly. Sounds like we have some similar journeys going on. I also am realizing that this learning to wait has existed for man years for me, though the focus areas change every so often. I think it's a huge issue not just for you and me but for most people. Thanks!

  7. What have I learned? how much time do you have? WOW! One thing i have learned is the "if only" principle: if only I would wait for God to work/act things would have been a whole lot better. 🙂

  8. i actually was in a backed up traffic situation and I took a bunny trail off the freeway to a frontage road to go back to the previous town. i got nailed by a highway patrol. Cost me $80 and a couple of points and probably increased insurance (because of a speeding ticket last year.) I just can't wait — and now it's cost me.

    But I am waiting on some relationships, some people who have run and haven't yet returned. I'm sticking in the traffic, waiting for them.

    • Yikes! That's an expensive lesson. Don't you love how God will work even in the details of life like a speeding ticket? I really like your analogy of "sticking in traffic" with regard to relationships, of waiting on people to return. Great connection with the analogy. And, I think it's really helpful to think of relationships like traveling in traffic. Could take that analogy in a variety of directions.

  9. Kari, you are so right, Americans hate to wait. I've found that in Ukraine people are a lot more patient and willing to wait, it's just a way of life. I try to have something to read with me at all times just in case I have to wait somewhere. I've gotten a lot of reading done that way. I guess the lesson I've learned is that I need to be ready to wait at all times!

    • I have also learned to always be ready to wait and am trying to teach my kids that habit as well. We can make our waiting be meaningful for God. Every second of our lives can be meaningful.

  10. Oh man, why did you have to mention driving? 🙂 I am terrible when someone is driving slowly. I don't yell necessarily, but I get very animated in directing them! I really like your takeaways and not only do I want to apply them to my driving, but to my life. Expecting and realizing delays are not such a bad thing is a healthy way to live. Keeps us from engaging in the extreme highs and lows. Great thoughts, Kari. Thank you.

    • I mention it for two reasons. First, it's one of my biggest issues and also one for many (most?) people. Second, I find it humorous that we get so upset about what we can't do anything about – others. You are so right in that we need to keep from operating in the extremes. That is a goal of mine for sure. Thanks Jason!

  11. Hmmm… Well, when you put it that way…

    Most of the time, I don't mind traffic, because it gives me time to think. Sometimes, it's the only "quiet" time I have during my day. Unfortunately, I don't feel that way about delays in the rest of my life. But you've given me some new perspective! Thanks, Kari! 🙂

    • Windshield time is some of my best thinking time too. It's just when people don't drive exactly how I think they should, I get a bit distracted. The delays, whether in traffic or other areas of life, just don't fit into my plans. That's the problem. I like MY plans too much. New perspective is always good. It's one of the main reasons I read others' blog posts so much.

  12. Patience! When driving in traffic or life's delay's I've learned to be patient (OK, at times I'm still not the best about being patient:). To ease my emotions so that I don't react in a negative or bad way (Especially in traffic). Great post!

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