As some of you may know, right now I live in Gary Indiana and volunteer with a church. Gary Indiana is one of the poorest and most violent cities in America, and one result of this is that the culture of Gary is wildly different from anything else I’m used to.
I spent all but one year of my childhood in a middle class family where deadlines were something to be taken seriously, and you showed up to work when you were scheduled. Meetings started promptly at 9. In Gary, life runs a little differently. People come to work a few minutes late, meetings don’t start on time. Each Sunday morning, at church, Pastor John will stand up eventually and speak into the mic - “Alright, those of you in the lobby can come in now, we’re looking to get started.”
In my past churches, that breach of formality would never have happened. And, in my past life, neither would the slow pace of life. It’s been a tough change for me, having to learn how to accept people and processes that take a few extra minutes to complete, when I’ll want to just get things done and move on to the next task.
In short - I’ve needed to learn more patience, something I haven’t always been good at. Fortunately, patience is a good thing for us to learn, especially since the Bible commands us to practice it. Over and over again, we see Jesus take his time while he was on earth, to the extreme frustration of the disciples. Take John 11, where we see Jesus waiting, even in a situation that would predicate urgency.
“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” John 11:1-4
Lazarus died before Jesus' arrival, much to the confusion of those around Him. And yet, what we learn in this passage is not that God doesn’t care but, instead, that God has a plan for us, and that it might not move at the speed that we expect it to. Later in the passage, Jesus arrives and not only weeps for Lazarus, but raises him from the dead. In the end, we see that Jesus waiting for two days enabled him to show the disciples that he has power even over death.
So, what’s the point of my story, and of the passage? Its to show us that God has a plan, often a plan that moves more slowly than we want. So the next time that you want to yell at your sibling for moving slowly, take a step back and remember that God commands us to be patient, and he has a plan.
Josiah DeBoer (18) is the Executive Director for CLM/TPS Chapel. He currently interns at a church in Gary, Indiana.