Distraction of Delays

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Ecclesiastes 7:14
On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.
Flight delays, weather delays, appointment delays, construction delays, game delays, we have all experienced them. Some delays are a welcome interruption. For instance, I work in the school system, so weather delays typically provide a gift of extra sleep and special time with the family. These delays open time in our busy lives causing us to slow down for a moment. But not everyone enjoys weather delays. In fact, most delays are not welcomed. Some delays cause us to detour our plans, some cause us to worry and other delays put us in a situation of waiting which produces frustration and stress. Let’s face it, it is difficult to wait. Whether a delay is caused by our own lack of planning or is completely out of our control, our thoughts can become consumed with worry or anger that paralyzes our ability to think constructively and accomplish anything productive during the time of waiting.
Transportation delays can be like this. Being stuck in an airport because of weather or missing our connections because of mechanical difficulties can completely derail us. After all there is nothing pleasurable about spending an unexpected night in an airport. Compound this situation by leadership responsibilities or time sensitive reservations associated with our destination and it can be a recipe for personal demise. When we are caught in these delays, we feel completely victimized by the circumstances which can raise our stress to an overwhelming level bringing out the worst in us.
Recently I experienced one of these delays. I was on my way to a bridal shower and left 3 ½ hours early for a 2 ¾ hour drive. I knew the route had the potential of backing up, but thought I had provided the cushion of time necessary. As I sat on the highway, I became more and more impatient with the traffic. I became even more discouraged as I read the sign informing me that the next 17 miles would take me 55 minutes to travel. There was nothing I could do about this delay, I was completely victim to the circumstances along with some 500 other cars on the road.
This happens while driving in traffic, waiting for an appointment or even standing in line at the grocery store. Each time we have a choice how to react. We can choose to express our impatience with this personal infringement on our time and schedule, responding with irritation and anger to those around us. Or we can give in to the circumstances with an attitude that we will make the best of things. We can’t change the situation with our resentment or exasperation. In fact our attitude can be the very catalyst that can alter the environment around us for the positive or the negative.
Ecclesiastes and Proverbs have many valuable lessons about our attitude and the pitfalls of anger. Ecclesiastes 7:14 reminds us that we will have good and bad days, to teach us about ourselves and our attitudes.
”On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted.”
This reminds me of the children’s song I used to sing
“Oh be careful little mouth what you say, Oh be careful little mouth what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down in love, So be careful little mouth what you say,”
Sometimes when we respond to delays with that entitled negative emotion, we are not the example that makes ourselves proud or emulates Christ to those around us.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Don’t be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head”
Instead Christ wants us to imitate Him in those times of frustration and delays.
Romans 15:5 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had,” Galatians 5:22 reminds us that some of those attributes include patience, self-control and kindness.
I think Solomon was right, the bad days are meant for us to examine our consciousness. What are the attributes you display when you are met with an unexpected, unwelcome delay?

Dear God, Help me to put on the attitude of Christ, so in spite of the circumstances around me, I can represent you in all things. Amen

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