We’re told in the book of Isaiah:
…but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NRSV)
My problem is, if I can’t get it in two days (with free shipping), I don’t want it.
Once, one of my favorite comedy series released only four episodes of its newest season. It was several months until the rest of the episodes dropped. I didn’t want to wait, but I had to.
Technology is great, but it’s ruining me. The bigger picture is that we’ve become a society that wants it now.
This wouldn’t be so bad if it were limited to shopping and entertainment. It’s influenced nearly all aspects of life, including how we communicate, consume our news and even engage in politics.
In A Failure of Nerve, Edwin Friedman writes that one characteristic of a chronically anxious society is the desire for a quick fix.* We don’t want to go through the long, often painful, process required to create lasting change. So we look for the latest program, hire an “expert,” or search for a miracle drug and expect immediate results. We elect politicians who promise a quick fix and are disappointed when they don’t deliver.
Most worthwhile things take time. This is true for our health, spiritual well-being and vocation. It’s especially true for the bigger problems in life.
One example is my own denomination, The United Methodist Church (UMC). We have been at odds for decades over LGBTQ+ inclusion. Many thought that a 2019 special session of our legislative body, the General Conference, would solve the issue with a plan to enable The UMC to remain mostly intact. It didn’t.
Then a group of high-powered leaders worked to develop the so-called Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation. This plan sought to enable progressives and traditionalists to part ways amicably. This was supposed to happen at the 2020 General Conference, but the pandemic has postponed it twice. Then things started to break down.
Now churches are disaffiliating and what remains of The United Methodist Church will have to move forward. This will take time. If done well, it can lead to a fresh start. But the process will take time. It’s not a quick fix.
One thing church leaders can do is show that they trust in God’s grace and God’s timing. The desire for a quick fix, whether it’s denominational unity or stemming the decline of the mainline church, is a fool’s journey. Our role is to help people lean into the long and challenging process of allowing God to change us into what we need to be. It won’t happen quickly. But, by the grace of God, it can happen.