Editor's note:

If it seems as though we post a lot about wait­ing here at Ren­o­varé, that’s because it is a dis­ci­pline that res­onates with us — and we think with the world at large — in our haste, hur­ry, and hustle.” 

Today, Richard Fos­ter intro­duces us to the idea of liv­ing a life that’s time-full” instead. We can­not wait for you to read it … um, what we mean is, please pur­sue at your leisure. 

—Renovaré Team

Impa­tience as a Pri­ma­ry Spir­i­tu­al Problem

The first week­end in March (2003), I was sit­ting in a plane on the St. Louis air­port tar­mac because a snow­storm had divert­ed us from our intend­ed des­ti­na­tion. We wait­ed in hopes that the storm would clear in time for us to make it to Spring­field, Mis­souri, before the day was out. Unlike many aboard, I had no tight con­nec­tion or busi­ness dead­line to make, and so I could more eas­i­ly than many wait out the storm. We arrived, final­ly, how­beit some hours lat­er than planned. Then, to add insult to injury, it took some forty-five min­utes for the air­line to get our bags into the ter­mi­nal as the plane’s lug­gage com­part­ment had frozen shut.

My lit­tle air­plane delay was a small thing com­pared to many of life’s frus­tra­tions. Still, I had ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to reflect upon how impa­tience has become a pri­ma­ry spir­i­tu­al prob­lem in con­tem­po­rary soci­ety. I watched with inter­est the grow­ing frus­tra­tion and impa­tience in pas­sen­gers to get on with life.” Of course, in point of fact, their lives and my life were right there on that plane wait­ing out a snow­storm. It is not with­out rea­son that the writer to the Hebrews urges us to run with patience the race that is set before us” (12:1).

A Strange Juxtaposition

I had added Spring­field to anoth­er trip in order to be with a dear fam­i­ly that was suf­fer­ing the loss of a hus­band and father. Ken Boyce had become a sur­ro­gate father to me after my own father’s death many years ago, and I was there to be with his wife of fifty-nine years, Doris, and their two adult daugh­ters. Like Enoch of old, Ken had walked with God” lo these many years. And Doris said it felt almost like he walked right into heav­en, dying as he did in his sleep. She had been hold­ing his hand all through the night, and in the ear­ly hours of the morn­ing it sim­ply grew cold as he qui­et­ly slipped from this life into greater LIFE. Long ago Jere­my Tay­lor wrote a piv­otal book, Holy Liv­ing and Holy Dying—well, Ken Boyce had done both.

For me it was a strange jux­ta­po­si­tion — my tem­po­rary delay on the plane and our cel­e­brat­ing the life and mourn­ing the pass­ing of this gen­uine­ly good man. When I place our human impa­tience along­side the real­i­ty of Ken Boyce who had lived life so very well, I am rebuked. Over his long life Ken knew a great deal about endurance and, espe­cial­ly in his lat­ter years when he faced the phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions of Parkinson’s, he expe­ri­enced patience in spades. As we rem­i­nisced togeth­er, telling old sto­ries about our friend, hus­band, and father, I saw in dra­mat­ic fash­ion the impor­tance of time in grow­ing a great soul — time and patience and lov­ing atten­tion to what Thomas Kel­ly calls the Divine Center.”

A Time-full Life

The post-mod­ern per­son is addict­ed to haste, hur­ry, hus­tle. And the addic­tion shriv­els our soul. Our des­per­ate need today is for a time-full life. When we are frac­tured and frag­ment­ed with much­ness” and many­ness” we can­not expe­ri­ence a time-full life. When we chaff under the slow­ness” of our microwaves and our com­put­ers it becomes near­ly impos­si­ble for us to obey the divine Whis­per, Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Some things sim­ply will not yield to our per­pet­u­al han­ker­ing for the instant, the imme­di­ate, the sud­den. Sure­ly the growth of our soul before God is one of those things.

Time … time and space … time and space and still­ness … these are the tools God uses to build a patient endurance with­in us. One of the most repeat­ed coun­sels giv­en in Scrip­ture is the sim­ple admo­ni­tion to Wait upon the Lord.” But we will nev­er even see this as a good thing until we enter a time-full life. In one mem­o­rable pas­sage Kel­ly says, I find that God nev­er leads us into an intol­er­a­ble scram­ble of pant­i­ng fever­ish­ness.” May you … may I … enter that still­ness of soul which alone can cul­ti­vate a time-full life.

First pub­lished in Per­spec­tives, April 2003.

Originally published March 2003

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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