Waiting for the Train

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“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Before I got married, I lived in a place that was near railroad tracks. The tracks essentially bisected the city, blocking all north/south roads, save for two that traveled underneath the tracks via some impressive underpasses. I could hear the blare of the freight train horn going off at all hours of the day and night, though I didn’t mind it too much. In fact, some nights the sounds of the trains lulled me to sleep.

The trains became a nuisance when I was on my way someplace (be it work or some errand), drove to the railroad crossing, and there was an extremely long train slowly making its way across the tracks. This was especially aggravating when time was short, or I was tired and just wanted to go home. The train seemed to go on forever.

The tracks were so close to my house that when I went to my car to head out, I could already hear a train coming – as if to let me know that there would be a delay even before I left.

At first, my impatience always got the best of me. I would hurriedly make my way to one of the underpasses. But to my amazement (and chagrin), by the time I got to said underpass, the train had already passed, and I had essentially wasted even more time trying to go around it!

After a few failed attempts to outsmart the train, I finally gave up and just sat in my car at the crossing. I put the car in park and watched as one car after another made its way to where it needed to go. I figured that it would take at least ten minutes for the train to pass. However, nine times out of ten, the delay was less than five minutes!

This taught me a very important lesson – not just about the timing of the trains, but about patience in general. It reminded me about my patience with God.

People tend to be impatient with everything nowadays, which is why we have so many quick-service gas stations, fast food restaurants, get-rich-quick schemes, fad diets, and all other sorts of hurried solutions to life’s needs and problems. We keep ourselves busy with life and only have so much time in a day. And we’d like to get everything done as quickly as possible.

This “instant gratification” mindset even gets into our prayer life. We pray to God with a myriad of requests and concerns. When we don’t get what we want when we want it, we often get impatient, frustrated, and try to do it ourselves…often with results that are just as frustrating.

In Psalm 27, David was asking God for wisdom, courage, and guidance. The last line of the chapter caps it all off: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” David asks for God to guide him, but he also tells the Lord that he was willing to wait for God’s response…on God’s time.

I can think of so many instances in my spiritual walk where I have prayed that God would address some concern of mine, and when He didn’t do it when I wanted Him to, I took control and tried to do it myself. Like my action with the trains, these attempts to chart my own course eventually led to an increased delay, and in some cases, very hard lessons.

God’s timing is always perfect. Just because He doesn’t respond when you want Him to doesn’t necessarily mean “no” (though keep in mind that it might). It may mean that it’s just not the right time. The Lord uses the time to build strength, courage and character in you, preparing you for what He has in store. In my case with the train, these periods offered opportunities for spiritual reflection, patience-building, and more reliance on God.

The simple solution is to trust God, and know that He has our best interests at heart at all times. It’s simple to say, not so simple to do, but it is what’s best.

The train will pass eventually, so it’s better to just wait.

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