With Amazon efficiency?

Our newest and most beautiful Chocolate Orchid with towering three-foot flower stalk.

“God’s way with us is waiting. . . .  No, God does not deliver on his promises with Amazon efficiency.”- Jen Pollack Michel, In Good Time

“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, / Born to set thy people free; / From our fears and sins release us; / Let us find our trust in Thee. / Israel’s strength and consolation, / Hope of all the earth Thou art, / Dear desire of ev’ry nation, / Joy of ev’ry longing heart.”- LSB 338, v. 1

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”- Psalm 27:14 (ESV)

My wife Vicki and I have a modest collection of nine orchids.  So, each year we look forward to two orchid shows, one at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the other at the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee.  We always purchase an orchid or two from our preferred grower, Don White of Anything Orchids out of Frankfort, IL.

As a result, on September 16. 2023, we purchased a beautiful chocolate orchid (Oncidium ‘Sharry Baby’).  While we browsed the orchid displays. Don selected a prime orchid from his stock.  Above all, the size of the flowering stalk astounded us.  Surely, we surmised, “Sharry Baby’ would flower soon.  A week passed.  Then, two, three, four, five, six, seven, EIGHT weeks! Finally, in mid-November, the first blooms appeared.

Certainly, the chocolate orchid failed to deliver on its promised blooms with Amazon efficiency.  Writing in her latest book In Good Time, Jen Pollock Michel describes God’s position on waiting. It certainly seems true, Jen observes, that God minds waiting far less than we do.  That He bakes waiting into the yeast project of His kingdom.

Yet, Jen Pollock Michel acknowledges, we despise uncertainty and the feeling of fumbling in the dark.  Hence, we reason, if Uber Eats delivers dinner to our door in thirty minutes, why should God opt for delay?  Consequently, Jen stresses, we find waiting a difficult habit to form when our culture highly prizes instantaneity.  In addition, technology accelerates time as well as our expectations of it.

But waiting functions as the habit of the Christian life.  Thus, patient time = Christian time.  Above all, the author underscores and exhorts, waiting serves as a function of hope.  Poet W. H. Auden once called the experience of Christian time the “time being.”  In other words, Christian time calls for waiting, for watching.  While God Himself stands outside of time, time firmly holds us in its grasp.

However, as Simone Weil describes in Waiting on God, a sense of frustration envelops us when our efforts seem fruitless.  Weil writes:

“Every time that we put forth some effort and the equivalent of this effort does not come back to us in the form of some visible fruit, we have a sense of false balance and emptiness which makes us think we have been cheated.”

Therefore, when you chafe because God does not deliver on His promises with Amazon efficiency, Jen urges, remember this.  Cast all your hope on God’s impartiality.  Because, although you cannot always know how to design a solution to your waiting, God knows — and will!

Furthermore, Jen Pollock Michel suggests, waiting may very well run its course.  And when waiting runs its course, impatience sometimes gives way to something good.  Like persistence.  Thus, endurance expresses your intentionality to engage in faithful waiting.  As you remember the real length of God’s time.

In conclusion, Jen muses, an Amazon world delivers gratification fast and without friction.  Hence, when things run with Amazon efficiency, endurance as a virtue is in short supply.  Therefore, the author encourages, exercised endurance in liminal (threshold between one thing and another) time.  Wait and wait out.  Renew, rest, persevere, and abide.

About the author

Dave Henning


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