Things Take Time

I don’t like to wait.

Like Queen, “I want it all, and I want it now.”  I want to download a book instantly, the moment I desire it, while sipping my coffee which the barista had waiting for me when I breezed through the coffee shop door.  I want line-free grocery stores.  I want God to give me patience, this second, thank you very much.

But one thing I’ve learned is that in the kingdom, things take time.  It just doesn’t seem like the God who created 17-year locusts is in a hurry.

It takes a long time to bear spiritual fruit.  Young believers need lots of encouragement, prayer, listening, explaining, and patience.  They need to hear the truths of God’s word again and again. They need friends to forbear with them when they’re assaulted by doubts or take two steps forward and three back.

It takes lots of listening, note-taking, question asking, and counseling to help a couple struggling in their marriage.  Sometimes they leave holding hands, then the next time you meet, they come with voodoo dolls of each other bristling with pins.

Often it takes believers who suffer tragedies to a long time to recover.  When a child or loved one dies it can take years to struggle back from such heartbreak, even with God’s grace and help.

When a Christian is severely sinned against, though they know and desire to obey Jesus’ command to forgive those who sin against them, it’s not easy.  It takes loads of grace to forgive someone who’s devastated them by their sin.  We can’t just say, “Hey, forgive them and get over it.  Just move on.”

So many times over the years I’ve expected people to change quickly.  I’ve thought I could meet with them once or twice, dispense some quick wisdom, and poof, problem solved.  Not true.  We need to be patient with the idle, the weak and the faint-hearted.  We must be quick to listen, slow to speak. We must bear with the failings of the weak.

When you see little progress in those you seek to help, remind yourself that none of your labor in the Lord is in vain.  In his perfect time, Christ will complete the good work he began in them.

photo by jurvetson

  • http://www.jeritanner.blogspot.com Jeri Tanner

    I appreciate this. I'm reading Job again and once again struck by the impatience of his "friends" at Job's distress. I love your line that the God who created the 17 year locust doesn't seem to be in a hurry, and thank God he's not. "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9)..

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Jeri,

      Thanks for mentioning Job's friends – they are a great example of what not to do…and thanks for including the great Scripture from 2 Peter!

  • http://gibcjupiter.org Joshua Spacht

    Mark, I wanted to personally thank you for your writing of "Behold the Lamb". I wasn't that familiar with the piece until I began listening to "King of Glory" for song ideas in order to participate in Bob's little "competition" on WorshipMatters. What a powerful song. The Lord has given a gift to his Church through your ministry and I pray He continues to use you in mighty ways. Thanks for reminding us that this world isn't all there is and that Christ is now seated in heaven having laid aside one crown for another. If you care, you can hear my feeble attempt at an arrangement of the piece here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fxmn8ZAivCo&hd
    I apologize if I'm taking up too much room on this blog, didn't know where else to write you!
    Joshua Spacht, Jupiter, FL, Grace Immanuel Bible Church

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Joshua,

      Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement! The last 8 months or so have been hard songwriting months – so thank you again! And I can't wait to listen to your arrangement of the song! Don't ever worry about taking up too much space with your comments! There's plenty of room!

      • MarkAltrogge

        Hey Joshua,

        I just listened to your arrangement – FANTASTIC! Great job! It almost sounds like a movie score. I am honored that you would do such an awesome arrangement of my song.

        • http://www.gibcjupiter.org Joshua Spacht

          Thanks for the listen Mark. I trust I'll be able to meet you in person later on this year as I (win or not!) would love to make it up to the conference. Again, what a helpful, Christ-exalting ministry you have. Maybe it's time for a remix album, heh? That is if the Lord doesn't give you any new songs over the next couple of months =-)
          Thanks again for your inspiration and integrity behind the words.
          By the way, I guess you would know a thing or two in your household about film/movies, isn't your son involved in an advertising firm that does some pretty good stuff?
          Joshua

        • MarkAltrogge

          Hi Joshua, I couldn't find your other comment, though I'd been notified. Anyway, hope to see you at Worship God if you can come – be sure to say hi to me. Hey, I'd love to hear some remixes!

          You're right, my son David has a film/video company called Vinegar Hill Picture Works – I think his website is http://vinegarhillcreative.com/, if you'd like to check out some of his stuff…

        • Joshua Spacht

          Thanks for your kind words. I wrote back a couple of days ago but I guess I didn't press "submit" or something.
          I will pray that the Lord continues to give you great melodies with great texts so that he is magnified through more of your writing. I had a blast arranging and if the Lord chooses to not give you any more melodies in the foreseeable future, maybe a remix album is in order! I think the cinematic genre has largely been overlooked by the Church as a suitable genre for worship- I'd love to see more material arranged in this way as there is nothing more "epic" and "moving" than Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, really- the entire story of the Bible!
          Thanks again for your commitment to faithfulness and integrity in your personal life as that gives your music great impact and influence.
          For Christ, Joshua
          (doesn't your son work for a film company or something. I think I saw that when I submitted some material for review, how cool!)

  • elizajanehuie

    Excellent words of wisdom here! Thank you for this reminder it encourages and exhorts me because I am often on both sides….the one needing to be patient others and the one who really needs people to be patient with me. Not sure which side I end up on most it feels like running on a top of teeter-totter…one side then the other. Thanks again for sharing this wise perspective.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hi Eliza,

      Welcome to the club! Your comments are so applicable to most of us – including me. Many of us tend to be impatient with others, yet we ALL need others to be patient with us in lots of areas. Thanks for your comments!

  • Petra Hefner

    Great post! Will share on fb. We all need to be reminded of this!

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thanks so much Petra!

  • Elaine

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mark; I need to be reminded frequently of these truths. My pride is quick to make me impatient with people and I am so blind to my own sin, I don't recognize it until later. Thanks again.

    • MarkAltrogge

      You and me both, Elaine. And thanks for mentioning that pride is at the root of our impatience with others!

  • http://heisaltogetherlovely.blogspot.com Liz

    Thank you for this great reminder that the way of the Lord is often slower than we anticipate, in various scenarios of the Christian life. Having recently been doubly bereaved with a short time span, I have been surprised at how long it is taking for me to ‘get over it’ even as a Christian or especially as a Christian. I was hard on myself for a long time. With hindsight I can see now that my impatience is uncalled for and God has been actively working all along. We so need this reminder that God’s timing is so counter-cultural and we have so many biblical stories as testimony to this.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Liz, I feel so sorry for you for your double loss. I can't imagine the pain you and so many people have gone through. Thank you for adding your comments, as one who has gone through loss and pain and the temptations that come with them. Your comments express such trust in Jesus – thank you.

  • http://www.ampersandphoto.net Sarah Danaher

    Thank you for this. I, too, am an impatient Christian… always aching for "promised future" to be "present reality." The most consistent prayer of mine during 2010 was Colossians 1:9-11— to be "strengthened with all might according to God's glorious might for all endurance and patience *with joy*, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." Grateful for grace that enables, and the Father who qualifies, and that joy and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand with patient endurance.

    • MarkAltrogge

      What a great prayer, Sarah!

  • lisa

    I have only recently begun to realize just how very patient God and all my friends have been with me through many years of self-righteousness, lack of compassion, and pride. I derive two important points from this:
    1. I have no business being impatient while others grow.
    2. I can be encouraged when I see people who seem to be slow in "getting it" by remembering that it took me a loooooong time to get some things (and I still have lots of things yet to get!), and if God can change me, he can certainly change them too. As a dear friend recently reminded me, the only reason I understand something that others do not is that God has allowed that light to shine and opened my eyes to it and not theirs yet. This is humbling!!

    • MarkAltrogge

      Great comments Lisa – I often think about how slow I am to change and grow. Therefore, as you said, "I have no business being impatient while others grow." Thanks for adding these!