In early Spring, I hosted a tour of our house for a local church group and they asked about our current needs. We can always use small things like toiletries, cleaning products, and towels/bedding, but this day was warm and beautiful and we were really missing our deck furniture. Ours was damaged in the fall and we had to get rid of all but a few chairs and cushions. I told them we would really like to have a table with enough room to seat 14 people for supper. I explained that with the change of season, we like to open our doors and extend our living space to deck and that we often eat supper outside on nice evenings. I also explained that it is sometimes hard to root teenagers out of the house and into the fresh air and sunshine, and that a welcoming deck space encourages them to wander out of doors. They really seemed to like the idea and asked a few questions to get ideas about what I wanted.
Fast forward a couple of months later and Dave started getting antsy. He priced patio furniture that would meet our need for durability and decided we couldn't spend that much money. He looked at designs for picnic tables and estimated what it would cost to build them himself. We talked about it a few times, and each time I reminded him that patio furniture was the only thing I said we needed when that group toured our house and I encouraged him to wait. One day he went to the store to buy lumber to make the tables and realized he could buy them for less. He came home and we talked about it again, and again I encouraged him to wait. Several days after that, we went back to the store and bought two picnic tables - enough space to seat 12. He drove one of them home in his truck and planned to come back for the other one two days later.
As he was unloading the table and planning who to call to help him haul it up our back stairs, I received a call from our administrative office. The men who had toured our house were there to deliver two picnic tables and benches, which they had custom built to seat 14.
The men brought the tables to our house and Dave helped them move them onto our deck. He also confessed his impatience and shared with them the impromptu lesson God had just taught him about waiting.
Picnic tables are a very simple, tangible example of things for which we have asked and waited, but it shows us clearly that waiting is hard. Waiting without worrying and planning for all possible scenarios is even harder; I think that's called patience. For me, it's an unnatural state of calm where I have to continuously shut down the worry and planning and empty my head about whatever I'm waiting on. I've had good opportunities to practice over the last few years, but I still struggle. Waiting on God to answer prayer is even harder. Sometimes the answer comes immediately, and sometimes I have to wait and wait. God always answers, but sometimes I end up explaining why I have four picnic tables instead of two.
"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14