Gift of Patience

I went to a Christian Family bookstore to buy a copy of “The Purpose Driven Life” leather bound journal on sale. As usual, I came away with much more than I bargained for.

While standing at the counter to pay for the journal, impatiently awaiting a store clerk’s attention, I noticed Juanita Bynum’s newest book and began browsing through it.  I grew more impatient, however, as the clerk continued chatting with a customer on the other side of the sales counter. A customer was asking about books and movies to reach her friends who were not Christian. She wanted to give them her beliefs in a way they might accept them. It didn’t sound like they would be ending their chat anytime soon, so I rudely interrupted them.

“Um, excuse me. Is anyone working the register?” I yelled across the counter.

I realized I was being rude, but I had half a dozen tasks on my to-do list, and I needed to complete my errands and be home in time for a scheduled call. The clerk explained that his colleague was handling a UPS delivery and would return to the counter to ring me up soon. I sighed in frustration, but decided to make the best use of that time waiting by reading a couple pages in Bynum’s book.

By the time the store clerk arrived to ring up my purchase, I had calmed down. She smiled and apologized for the delay. She explained that the book I was browsing was on sale for $5, and the books and movies on the table behind me were $5, too.  I grabbed a movie I had wanted to give as a gift.

“Five dollars?” I asked, holding up a copy of the movie, “Fire Proof.” I remembered that most sales like this have limits, though.

“How many can I get?” I asked the clerk.

“As many as you want,” she answered, still smiling.

I bought the journal I went in for, paid $5 for Juanita Bynum’s new book, and $5 for the movie I had wanted but thought I could not afford.

“Have a blessed day,” the woman said as I turned to leave.

“I already am,” I told her, returning her smile. “You just blessed me in more ways than you know.”

As I was leaving I noticed a small child standing in line with her mother. The child couldn’t have been older than three or four.

“Look at her! She’s so… patient!” I said to the mother, who also was standing their patiently waiting her turn, holding a baby in her arms.

As I walked back to my car I thought about when I became so impatient. I certainly had not been born that way – or raised that way. I had worked in rush-rush-deadline-driven professions.  As a news reporter everything had to be done in a hurry. As a Congressional communications director media requests had to be acknowledged, processed, scheduled, and completed quickly. My paycheck – livelihood – depended on it. Rush. Rush. Now. Now.

My days don’t have to be rushed right now. Could it have been God’s divine order to slow me down and bring me back to my senses? Perhaps. Rush-rush-do-it-now…or not!

Are you the one in line in a hurry, or the one standing waiting patiently? Is your rushing a force of habit? Are you trying to do too much in too little time? Can you get off the treadmill? Have you stopped to think of what you might be missing in the rush of it all?

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