I love them for the thrill, the rush, the speed. I love the anticipation, the clack-clack-clack as the cars crawl up that first monstrous hill. I love the loops and flips, the twists and turns, the drool swinging from my seatmate’s wide-open mouth and the bugs slamming into my own. I love the way I vow to eviscerate whoever talked me into this as we crest that first terrifying hill, and then laugh and clap as we roll to a stop at the end.
That’s what I love about rollercoasters.
But apparently, judging by the long lines, everyone else loves them too. And the line is always longest for the best rollercoaster in the place. It provides the longest wait, followed by the greatest thrill of all.
So I also hate rollercoasters. I hate them for the wait, the crawl of the line, the crowd pressed tightly together. I hate standing in the sun, shuffling like cattle through those narrow rails, feeling like I’m about to pass out from heatstroke. I hate waiting an hour for a ride that will last sixty seconds. I hate calculating that if admission to an amusement park costs X dollars and I’m there for just a couple of hours, then I’m wasting half of my money to stand in line for an hour, sweating and scowling, when I could be enjoying something else.
That’s what I hate about rollercoasters.
Practicing patience is a lot like riding rollercoasters: both involve exceptionally long waits, followed by moments of exciting reward. As I wait for my book release, I am trudging painfully slowly toward what I know will be an absolute thrill. However, last month when the release was delayed, my wait got a bit longer. The delay was no one’s fault, and I’m told it’s fairly common in publishing. So I waited.
Now comes word of another delay—shorter than the first. My publisher gives me a choice: we can rush through the final proofing, or take another week or two for quality assurance. Of course, the sniveling twelve-year-old in me, screaming for instant gratification, wants to demand a release now. But the adult in me knows it is wiser to wait, to make sure it is done right, to allow my wonderful publisher to give it their all. So I choose the latter, trying to beat down the spoiled brat inside of me.
And while my wait grows, I must grow with it.
As with the best rollercoasters, the longer the wait, the greater the anticipation and the better the thrill. Soon, I will be on that rollercoaster, screaming and giggling like a little girl. Good things will happen—in time.
After the resurrection, Jesus’ final word to his followers was to wait: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:1).
Stay and wait. Something big is coming. Don’t try to force God’s hand. A gift has been promised, and it’s going to be awesome: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2).
Great! But when, and can’t it come sooner?
No. Stay in Jerusalem and wait.
How long? Who knows?
Ever notice that when we try to coax timelines out of God, he tends to keep things vague? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set” (Acts 1:7).
I have noticed that there is a lot of waiting in the Bible. A lot. But I have also noticed that waiting on God always brings something awesome. In the case of the first Christ-followers, it brought tongues of fire and one of the coolest evangelistic crusades ever (Acts 2:1ff). They had to wait just forty days – which, come to think of it, is the total number of days my book release has been delayed! (Coincidence? Sure…totally.)
So now I stand in line, shuffling along inch by inch. But until the ride comes, how can I pass the time? Well, to continue with the rollercoaster metaphor, I am squished in among other people who are also waiting through their time on earth, with their own hopes and dreams. I might as well make the most of it: build relationships with those around me, try to be Jesus to other cranky people, and perhaps help someone else who actually does pass out in line. While I wait, there is stuff to do – stuff far more important than a book release.
Eventually, I will board that coaster, feel the bar slam down across my lap, and prepare for what could be a very wild ride.