On Microwaves, Boardwalks, and the Best Kind of Subway Rides

I hopped on the train last Thursday, feeling excited and ready to take my slightly longer commute because it practically guaranteed me a seat and time to read before work. (All this excitement at 8 a.m. coming from the girl who has only drank a half a cup of coffee in the last two weeks. #whoami)

And grab a seat I did, right as another young woman sat down next to me. I pulled out my iPad Mini and selected the She Reads Truth app—she pulled out her Bible. Naturally, I was drawn to her. Not many people will pull out their physical Bible while riding a crowded subway in New York City. I can’t say I’ve ever done it before. This woman’s faith and heart for the Lord were immediately evident.

So I smiled and showed her that I, too, was reading the Bible. Her face lit up. She told me she was reading Philippians.

“I’m trying to make changes in my life right now, and I have some anxiety about that. Philippians is a great comfort.”

She’s right about that. I told her this year marks the first time I’m reading Scripture every day and going through a Bible in a year plan. That it’s made a difference in my daily life and brought me a greater sense of joy. I told her that I, too, feel moments of anxiety. I tried to be an encouragement to her and let her know I could totally relate but that God gives us a deeper sense of peace than anything else can. We exchanged names and numbers, and we’re now Facebook friends.

I went on with the rest of my day, not fully recognizing what a gift my commute was. The fact that we sat next to each other was no coincidence. That night, it hit me how much she had encouraged me—how much I needed to hear those words in Philippians.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I had been feeling anxious that very day about my upcoming weekend trip. I was going to visit a new city with new people, and I had no idea what to expect for the days ahead. It all felt very unknown. My anxiety stemmed from waiting for the weekend to start, waiting for what was to come, and waiting for how I’d feel upon returning to the Big Apple.  

I hate to wait.

So much worry and anxiety comes from waiting, from our impatience.

I came back to New York City on a total high from the weekend but also feeling weird about being here. It’s a busy and demanding place. Patience is not part of the New Yorker’s vocabulary. (To be fair, I don’t think it’s a part of many Americans’ vocabularies.) People push past me as I walk through the city streets. The contrast between my weekend and my Monday morning commute is a stark one. Everyone, myself included, has somewhere to be. We need to get there as quickly as possible.

What in the world are we rushing toward? Why do we hate to wait so darn much?

Even while I write this, I am overwhelmed with my schedule for the month to come. I’ll feel great once May 1 hits, but until then I am waiting. Waiting for a new apartment, waiting for how that will change my community, waiting to work on and complete some upcoming projects, waiting for more weekends of travel and spending time with friends and family.

There has to be a way to find peace within the waiting room. I don’t want to look ahead and expect May 1 to be the day when all my waiting and my anxiety will disappear. That’s not how life works, which is actually a very good thing.

Here’s the deal: We are all always waiting for something, whether it’s for a job or an apartment, for marriage or a baby. We will wait throughout our lives, ultimately waiting for the return of the kingdom or life beyond this one. Most of our life is waiting. Last year, I wrote about waiting—how waiting is an act of utmost faith. Waiting means choosing to say every single day, Jesus is better.

Our God is not a microwave God.

No, sir. Our God is a Crock-Pot kind of guy. His end result tastes and smells so much more delicious than anything we could quickly nuke in the microwave. Think about it. Wouldn’t you so much rather have the mouthwatering chili that’s been stewing in the slow cooker all day over the two-minute chili a la essence of tin can that came out of the microwave? I know I would.

The sermon I heard on Sunday was all about this Crock-Pot God. He is good and faithful. He fulfills His promises to us. But He works slowly—often much more slowly than we would like. Look at Abraham and Sarah. They wanted a child but remained childless through their old age. Yet God came through, and at the ripe old ages of 100 and 90 years old, Abraham and Sarah had a son. Seriously. They waited for a ridiculously long time, and they saw that they could not do anything without the Lord.

They’re the true definition of couple goals, am I right?

I’m back in NYC, still reflecting on that sermon and still reflecting on the woman I met on the subway. God 100 percent placed her in my life last Thursday. He used her to deliver His message and remind me that He is never far away. He was with me all weekend long, guiding me, protecting me, and allowing me to have fun. And then this week, as the anxiety hit hard, He reminded me the value of patience. His peace transcends all my little worries. I get to pray to Him, and He hears it. My subway buddy is evidence of that.

She kicked off a weekend full of rest and restoration. As I look back on the photos today, in the midst of anxiety, I had to pause on the one above. The boardwalk feels a little like my life right now. I don’t want to wait to find out what’s at the end of the boardwalk. I’m walking along, waiting for what’s next, and I really don’t know what’s to come. I want to just get there and be done with it. In life, we don’t know where our journeys will take us. But if we keep our eyes fixed on the path set before us, on the clouds above—on heaven—we’re sure to land in a spot that’s more beautiful and more satisfying than anything we could have ever hoped for. And that makes it all worth it.