I am not a patient person. I eat cookie dough from the bowl while waiting for the others to come out of the oven. I order clothes and meals online because I get annoyed at the time it takes to shop. I even got our family dog in on it; his Barkbox arrived yesterday.
While waiting isn’t my favorite, I do love the reward at the end of the process – fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, an outfit that makes me feel fab, a beautiful meal on the dinner table, and a happy doggy chewing his treat under the table.
The whole waiting-reward dynamic is probably why one of my favorite stories in the bible is the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Jesus uses this story to teach us an important spiritual truth. Basically, God gives us something – skills, potential, vision – and when we put it to good use, He says, “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” It’s pretty straightforward: if I steward my talents well, I get a reward at the end.
What I’m not so crazy about is a little phrase in Verse 19, before the reward comes in Verse 23: “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.”
“After a long time.” Um, what? I have to wait “a long time”? I hate “a long time.” Waiting for things to transpire is like waiting for chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven. I love cookies, but I don’t like the wait. I love the unfolding of big, bodacious God-dreams, but I grow impatient with the wait for the end result.
I’m sure God has given you some pretty big dreams. I know He’s given me big dreams. Here’s what happens: God inspires us, resources us, and sends us off, and then it’s a long time. There’s this gap between the time God entrusts you with something and when you finally receive the reward. That gap between the inspiration and seeing your dreams realized can be longer than you planned, filled with unexpected twists and turns, and sometimes cause you to wonder if you misheard God. Fortunately, there’s encouragement to wait for the reward in another of my favorite passages: Philippians 3.
Verse 14 encourages us to go the distance with time. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Go on down to verse 16 and you’ll see that our anxiousness to get there in a hurry is quieted:
“However, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” THIS is what we do with our “long time:” Live in the standard that you’ve attained. Enjoy where you are now. Celebrate the process of moving toward the goal. Be grateful for the opportunities along the way. If everything is framed out by your anxious timeline, you might miss something valuable that God wants to do in you and through you. Breathe. Play. Plan. Invest in others. Serve well. Love the challenge. Pursue personal growth. Allow God to enlarge you. The reward will be worth waiting for if you can learn to love “the long time.”