The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. --2 Peter 3:9
Many years ago, I was sitting with a group of passengers aboard a shuttle at a Pennsylvania airport, waiting to be taken to our plane. It was a connecting flight, and there were several of us who had been forced to dash from our late-arriving plane in order to make this flight. Now it looked like we were going to miss it anyway, because the bus driver had been told to "hold in place."
This was more than one passenger could handle, and he exploded at the driver, insisting he ignore his orders or "risk the wrath of a lawsuit." In the midst of his rants, it became apparent the rage was coming from a mix of fear and desperation. If he "didn't make that flight," he would "miss the chance to close on a once-in-a-lifetime deal" that was "make-or-break" for his business and his family.
Just then, a young airline employee came dashing up to the bus carrying a briefcase, and as he stepped onto the shuttle, he was out of breath. Looking to the man who had been raging at the driver, the airline employee triumphantly held up the briefcase, and when he caught his breath, said: "I'm a flight attendant from your flight, sir. You left your briefcase behind. I heard you telling the other flight attendant how important your meeting was, and I figured you would need this."
The angry passenger was angry no more. In fact, he was clearly fighting back tears as he made his way to the front to pick up his briefcase. He offered to tip the employee, who was unaware of the drama he'd stepped into, but the employee passed. "No sir," he said cheerfully, "I'm just glad I made it."
As we finally made our way to the plane, the man worked up his nerve and apologized to all of us, including the bus driver. Oddly enough, it was easy for me to forgive him, and it was apparently easy for everyone else, too, including the driver, because there were a number of knowing murmurs when the driver told him "No worries buddy; we've all been there."
Lately, I've found myself more eager to see the Lord return to usher in His Kingdom. The terror and tragedies around us; the suffering of people we know and love; and even the stresses of daily life, all seem bigger than the fixes on the horizon. As the work I do begins to feel like spooning out the ocean, I grow especially impatient with those around me, and even sometimes with God. "What can He be waiting on?" I wonder.
Then someone I care about tells their story of having just met Jesus; or I discover the prayer I wanted answered didn't get answered because God had something better---or more important---in mind for me. It reminds me of what I learned that day: There are always things we don't know; always stories and details God knows that I don't, and I'm reminded to trust Him again. I'm reminded, too, that for His followers, this world and this time is about bringing as many others into His Kingdom as we can.
We made the flight that day, in part because the airline knew about the briefcase and the man's meeting. We've made heaven, too, entirely by God's grace. I need to try to remember now the story isn't about me; but about God and everyone who doesn't yet know His son.