Chapter 10 — Waiting
It is almost funny sometimes how we get ourselves all primed with good purposes—to love and trust, to give out what we want to get back, to do unto others what we want them to do unto us—and then the minute we find some “trouble” bobbing up in an unexpected way we get all upset, and confused, and scared, and grasp at the first expedient that suggests itself for combating infringement upon our rights, for getting our own way, for avoiding humiliation, for “saving our face.” It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic! How we do despair at our failures! when we ought to laugh—at ourselves.
It seems sometimes that when troubles face us, our first impulse is to fight, resist, snarl, scratch, bite, strike, crush. We find it hard to understand why. We grow desperate with a sense of our own unregenerate condition—our ingrained wickedness-our wretched inconsistencies.
If you are like me, or rather if I am like you—which I am inclined to believe I am—we both often wish that we could find some idea that we could cling to, some phrase that we could repeat, some reminder of our principle that we could use on all occasions when “trouble” appears, and that would start us off just right in dealing with it—some formula or recipe for immediate “first aid” that we might act upon until we had time to think, until we could bring up our reserves of experience and conviction and seasoned wisdom. Sometimes I think that that is what everybody wants most—a formula—a brief rule—for first aid.
I’ve found one that helps me. Maybe it will help you. It is “No hurry—wait!”
That “haste makes waste” is an old aphorism. A common observation upon the person who says or does unkind, mean, or cruel things on the spur of the moment—without “malice aforethought” is that he is “hasty.” Hasty words, hasty acts, make trouble. Why? Because they are usually said or done without reference to the Spirit within—in disregard of the still small voice.
Of course there are impulsive speeches and deeds that are good. There are instantaneous responses to unexpected situations that are exactly right. There are sound decisions that lose nothing by being swift. But these are quite different from things done in a hurry. And rare indeed is the case in which it would not have been better to wait—until we knew what was right. Some wise man has said that nothing is ever lost by patience. We know that much is often lost by rush. To rush is rash.
As a matter of fact, it is hurry that causes most accidents. It is hurry that causes most disagreements. It causes most misunderstandings. It causes most disappointments. Hurry distracts the mind from clear thought. It drowns out the Voice. Hurry rhymes with worry—and belongs in the same category. We say of a man who hurries and worries, that he gets “all hot and bothered”—and he does. And that is usually about all he gets. Unless he gets into a mess.
But think. People who do really great things never hurry. Nobody who writes a great book ever hurries. The great surgeon never hurries. The pilot of a great ship never hurries. The effective public speaker never hurries. Hurry never made a friend. It defeats the lover. Hurry never builds safely.
Hurry blinds the eyes to beauty. It destroys accuracy in the hand. It ruins judgment. It slurs action. Hurry is what causes heart failures and nervous prostrations. It overlooks the important things and sees only the trifles.
Hurry does nothing but defeat or delay you—in all sorts of things, all the way from shaving or dressing to closing the big deal or accomplishing the great result or giving the great performance or creating the great work.
What shall we wait for? Well, in the 42d Psalm, as the Moffatt translation has it, we find, “Wait, wait for God.” And not satisfied with saying it once, the Psalmist repeats it, “Wait, wait for God.” And then in the 43d Psalm he says it again, “Wait, wait for God.” Well, why should I not wait for God? He is the only power that will ever give me what I want, and what He gives is worth waiting for, isn’t it?
Why hurry? Why hurry even when some other driver tries to steal the right of way from me? Why hurry when somebody says something disagreeable to me? Why hurry when an obstacle looms in my path? Why hurry to do something the Voice has not suggested or approved? Hurry picks green apples, trips over the rug, breaks the point of the pencil. Hurry runs the boat aground, breaks the dish, burns the finger, leaves something out of the recipe, spills the ink, wastes the gas, drives past the address, barks the shin, rakes the fender, burns out the fuse, offends others, hurts their feelings, rushes in where angels fear to tread.
God never hurries. Nobody knows how long the universe has been in building. He seems to take eternity as the basis for His deliberation. Being His child in the midst of my own eternal life, why should I not be deliberate? Not that God does not move swiftly. He turns the earth at the rate of a thousand miles an hour. He sends it through space at many times that speed. He sends His sunlight traveling 186,000 miles a second. What do I know about speed? Well, there is one department in my life where I know speed—without hurry.
I think swiftly. I cannot help thinking swiftly. My thought is the swiftest thing I know anything about. It is swifter than light. It can travel to the outermost frontier of the universe and back, millions of millions of miles, in less time than it takes light to travel a mere 186,000 miles. Why am I in such a hurry to act, when I can think so quickly? Can’t I afford to wait for thought?
But what is thought? Thought is the creative power in me, which is God Himself within me. Pure thought that is—unclouded, unobscured by fear. Hurry is always the expression of fear—fear that I shall be late, fear that I shall miss something, fear that I shall be defeated, or humiliated. It befogs thought. That is why it is thoroughly destructive. Hurry will not wait for thought—the creative power of God in me. Hurry will not wait for God. It is afraid God will be too slow in taking care of my interests, in defending me, in saving me from danger or from shame. Hurry is a mad impulse to beat the speed of light, the speed of thought, with physical action. Hurrying might be compared, then, to trying to pull “the limited” with a tortoise! Like trying to deliver the radio message in a wheelbarrow!
Hurry is the slowest way of doing anything. It is the worst way in the world to deal with emergency—which is another name for what we commonly call trouble. To hurry is to blindfold the eyes to vision and stop the ears to the Voice. To wait is to listen, to think. But you can think—millions of millions of miles, across the world and back, and around and back, and across the universe and back, and straight through to God—all in the time it takes you to step on the accelerator, or utter the curse, or strike the blow. Which is better? Why not step on the brake, shut the lips, withhold the hand?
But somebody has said, “He who hesitates is lost.” And somebody else avers that “opportunity knocks but once.” Lies, both of them. He who hesitates, in the sense of waiting for God, is wise. Opportunity knocks continually, forever. He who hesitates to wait for God is lost. Opportunity to hear the Voice is opportunity. Hurry is delay—always serious, sometimes terrible. To wait is to appeal to speed—to the speediest thing we know—creative thought—God.
Just think how God waits—for you and for me.