On Monday evening, I found myself stuck on I-90 in downtown Chicago. I had been visiting friends at my former university and, much to my chagrin, hadn’t paid attention to the time well enough to avoid the inevitable rush hour traffic. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing Chicago traffic at four o’clock, I promise Kimberly Road is nothing in comparison.
After a wonderful afternoon of catching up, laughter, and feeling uplifted by seeing people I love, I was ready to get home. No amount of NPR could distract me from the fact that I was only moving a few inches at a time. I was impatient and restless, and I was already dreading sitting still for the next two and a half hours! My impatience was so wrapped up in my hurriedness that I couldn’t imagine that everyone else stuck on the road was feeling the same thing.
Jesus often seems to have an air of urgency, too. Mark’s own Gospel gets straight into the action, skipping Jesus’ birth, and opening with his baptism. In the very first chapter Jesus declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the reign of God has come near!” (Mark 1:15). There is a steady pace of hurriedness and expectation in Jesus’ ministry that can make us also feel a constant need to be on the move so that we can speed up God’s reign.
If, however, we’re all rushing to get on with being disciples, we too will end up stuck in rush hour. In our haste to get to the outcome, we can easily become irritated with the seeming lack of results. So often it feels like we’re only moving inches at a time. Just like so many of us, I become impatient in traffic because I realize time isn’t mine to control. Our time is a gift that rests in the hands of God, and God is in no hurry.
The first Christians in Thessalonica wrote to Paul about their own frustrations of God not meeting their scheduled expectations. Paul’s response was to assure the Thessalonians that God’s unhurriedness isn’t a punishment but a gift so that we might have all the time we need to be Christ in the world (1 Thess. 5:9). Rather than drawing attention to the traffic, Paul reminds us that God cares just as much about the journey as the outcome.
The reign of God really has come near in Jesus! So, let’s take the time we’ve been given to delight in it. We can let God worry about getting us home on time.