You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but I’m a creature of habit. Every morning for the last 10 years or so I’ve had the same breakfast everyday — instant oatmeal.
Most people assume I’m a Canadian bacon and tomato juice kinda guy, but I’m not. Sometimes you’ll catch me taking a walk on the wild side and eating eggs and toast or making a protein shake with a banana, but those times are rare. Most of the time I stick with the God-given basics: orange juice (in an 8 oz. cup), a good water-soluble multivitamin, and a bowl of instant Quaker Oats, cinnamon flavor. On good days I’m in and out of the kitchen in twelve minutes flat.
Starting my morning so quickly not only saves time but sets a precedent for the rest of my day. I expect everyone to be as quick and wonderfully efficient as I: my kids, my wife, my neighbors, my dog, my coworkers, even my deity.
Zip. Zip. Get moving. Let’s go. Outta my way. I’ve got things to do and people to see.
The funny thing is, as far as I can tell, my approach to life hasn’t rubbed off on God yet. And to be honest, this frustrates me immensely. I want a god that works on a quicker delivery schedule, like UPS or FedEx. Not a wasted step. Packages delivered on time, every time. The customer is always happy.
When you initially flip through its pages, you might walk away with the impression that the God of the Bible is a FedEx kind of god, answering prayer, guaranteed, by 10:30 a.m. the next morning.
But that’s simply not the case.
Take the Book of Acts, for instance, the history book of the birth and expansion of the early church. It covers a span of 30+ years. You’d think that what was going on in those days was so important that God would have passed out miracles like a politician handing out campaign flyers. But He didn’t. We can count on two hands the number of miracle stories in the entire book.
God operates on a different timetable than we do. In the Bible, in Isaiah 55:8, God reminds us, “My ways are not your ways.” But we keep forgetting that, especially when we’re in a pinch and we need a prayer answered fast.
Theologian Kosuke Koyama gives us a glimpse as to why God keeps the schedule He keeps. Reflecting on his days as a pastor in the tranquil rice fields of Thailand, he wrote,
“God walks ‘slowly’ because He is love. If He is not love He would have gone much faster. Love has its own speed. It is an inner speed. It is a spiritual speed. It is a different speed from the technological speed to which we are accustomed…It goes on in the depth of our life, whether we notice or not, whether we are currently hit by storm or not, at three miles an hour. It is the speed we walk and therefore it is the speed the love of God walks.” (Three Mile An Hour God, Chapter 1)
God refuses to be the FedEx god we so desperately want because He loves us. His slowness to answerprayer, to move, to heal, to part the waters, is all a reflection of His love.
When He doesn’t answer our prayers right away we’re forced to trust Him more. When He allows us to suffer it brings depth and strength and compassion into our lives.
Thank God His ways are not like our ways.
If there’s anything we learn from the Bible, if we’ll slow down enough to take in its message, it’s this: God is always at work, but at a much slower speed than we impatient Westerners would like.
And that’s a good thing.
How have you experienced our “three mile an hour” Jesus?
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