Picture a retired couple cramming too much into one morning. The husband needs bloodwork done for one of his doctors. The wife is seeing a new and different medical specialist for the first time, so she has no idea how long the appointment will last. The husband drops her off and then drives to the clinic a few blocks away.
The husband has to wait a fairly long time, but he is still out of the clinic before the wife’s appointment time starts. To clarify here, they always show up early for everything and the specialist wanted the wife there 30 minutes early to fill out paperwork. She was there 45 minutes early.
In the meantime, the wife filled out the paperwork in no time at all and was ushered into the doctor’s office very early. But, as a new patient, there was a getting-to-know-you period of time. While the doctor saw other patients, he kept coming back to the wife’s room asking more questions and making sure that he knew what he needed to know to treat her. Thus, she was there a long time. The husband didn’t need to worry about the time. But, he did.
Since the gas station was across the road from the clinic, the husband took a chance by going to the gas station. This was mid-morning, so there shouldn’t be a rush at the pumps. He said a quick prayer that it would be a quick in and out. It was not. Every pump was taken. A third of the pumps had people parked behind the person filling the tank. On the back side of the station, there were two pumps that the husband could select to park behind, but he chose to stay back, able to slip into either spot if he determined that they were getting finished. That was when the fun began.
The closer pump featured a pick-up truck. Those gas tanks are larger on average and take longer to fill, but the nozzle was already in place, hopefully pumping gas on automatic. The driver was fiddling with a propane tank, trying to tie it down in the bed of the truck. He wasn’t well coordinated, but he finally accomplished the task. He then went back to the pump and started to pump gas. No luck on the pump already pumping gas. The nozzle had been sitting there idle.
The further pump featured a compact car. Those gas tanks are usually smaller on average, less gas to pump. The pump was not attached to the car, and the driver was inside the car. Could he be finished and about ready to leave? Heavens, no. After one or two minutes (felt like ten minutes), he got out of the car and used his rewards card, signifying that he was just getting started. He started the pump, put the pump on auto with the little catch in the handle, and then went back into his car to do something. As long as it took, he could have been taking a nap.
When other cars drive in from the opposite direction, they pull up to a car that leaves immediately. No waiting. The husband decides to get behind the pick-up. He fears someone darting in front of him. At least the pick-up driver is trying to finish. In time, the pick-up driver finishes, spends maybe another minute writing down information in his ledger, then slowly pulls away from the pump, stopping a few times to confirm that he has enough room to get through. The husband chose wisely. The other guy is still in his car, taking his nap. The pump clicked off minutes ago. The husband checked his watch. It had taken him fifteen minutes of waiting before the pump was free. Nowhere on the face of the earth does it take a normal sized pick-up truck or car that long to fill the tank. But neither of these guys had a wife waiting on him. They were not in a hurry.
By this time, the husband is in a song of praise. He has spent his entire life hating the hurry up and wait aspects of life. This whole ordeal was probably God trying to teach him some patience. He quickly fills the tank in less than a minute. As he climbs into his car, he feels rushed. He had waited fifteen minutes. What about the next guy behind him? He better move quickly to make room. He looks around. There is no one waiting. There is no one parked next to any of the eight gas pumps. The gas station is totally deserted. The husband is the only customer. Finally, a car pulls next to his to get gas. If the husband had waited fifteen minutes, there would be no waiting at all and a wide selection of available idle gas pumps.
The husband laughed as he drove the few blocks back to pick up his wife. He prayed that she hadn’t waited long. She wasn’t waiting outside. She wasn’t waiting in the waiting room. He sat, and he waited. He checked his watch. Thoughts of his wife having a heart attack and being rushed to the hospital entered his mind. The doctor’s office would have gone back to normal afterwards. He had not announced himself when he sat down in the waiting room. When he had waited an hour past time for her appointment to start, he was thinking of going to the receptionist to ask if his wife was still in one of the rooms when his wife emerged from the opposite door.
He told her of his experience at the gas pump. He said that it was God trying to teach him patience again. Then it struck him that this might be wrong thinking.
When we have a lesson that we need to learn and we have not learned it in 65 years, what good does it do to teach us again? If we had a bosom buddy that put us in awkward situations like this for 65 years, forget it. They would not be our bosom buddy after the same practical joke had been played on us for a few months. Much less, a few years. Forget 65 years.
So let’s forget God doing bad things to us to teach us a lesson. Let’s forget God as seen in Job chapters 1 and 2. God is sovereign, yet He allows Satan to have his way, within limits, on God’s servant Job. God, in His wisdom, allows us to live in a broken world and around other broken people. That’s the point. While God is dealing with us as we need to be dealt with, He is also the sovereign God, whether they believe in Him or not, of all of the other people who needed a tank of gas and happened to get to the gas station a few seconds before you do.
Is God my bosom buddy? Yes, He is. As the song goes, He walks with me and He talks with me. He doesn’t have to say it, but He tells me I am His own. Do I get frustrated when I get inconvenienced by waiting? Yes, and I will continue to be frustrated in the future. But I won’t blame God. He isn’t done with me yet, but I have to be patient with the situation. God isn’t done with everyone that I meet either.