Delay Avoidance

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

Jesus’ Teachings on Delays

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.

Recalling 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 and 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.  Waiting is often the best choice when you’re tired.
  4. Expecting delays should be automatic in our thinking. We know that delays happen, and we should focus on being thankful to get through them safely and 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 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 (Luke 16:10), 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.

“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.”