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Timely Expectations

The GPS lady kindly informed me, “Traffic is slower than usual.”

“That’s helpful,” I thought, as if we were in some shared dialogue.

Then, the next day, she repeated herself. Twice. Once in the morning . . . then again that night.

On it went—like a broken record (as they used to say, back in the day).

This went on for days. But then she switched it up on me. She expanded her vocabulary to, “The traffic is heavier than usual.”

That became the new message-of-the-day.

Since we were getting so buddy-buddy, I started to philosophize with her: “If it’s always heavier than usual, doesn’t heavier become usual? Isn’t heavier the norm?”

She made no rebuttal.

I found myself caught in a dual of expectations regarding time. I was expecting a best-case scenario. But all I was getting was a worst-case scenario. However, my expectations are not imposable. They certainly couldn’t be imposed upon her!

But isn’t that why they post so many Expect Delays signs? Isn’t it precisely because of our clashing expectations?

The actual pace of life can conflict with our ideal, in somewhat similar ways, can’t it? Then, when actuality differs from expectation, annoyance and frustration follows. That’s about the time I started arguing with the AI lady.

It’s not entirely uncommon to want to be on the fast track. Moving forward. Making gains . . . quickly. Sometimes, however, God deems it best to slow. Wait, even.

We witness it all around us. People rushing around in a constant state of busy.

But the expressway is a category all its own! Cars rev their engines and jockey for position. They hurry up . . . to go nowhere fast. I’m not familiar with the history of the slang “rat race,” but it sure fits. I know what doesn’t fit: rush hour—because it’s more than an hour, with no real rushing involved.

But then, grace breaks through—with the unexpected. With change.

After commuting for weeks with daily delays, the voice fell silent one remarkable day. I sailed the haggard route in record time. Twice in a row!

I had gotten so accustomed to the abnormal, I lost sight of the fact that there really is a normal.

“She was right,” I thought. Just because I hadn’t experienced the usual, didn’t mean there wasn’t one.

The next time I hit a stand-still in a 70mph zone, I have decided ahead of time how to wait in traffic. Instead of staring down the ticking clock, I’m going to occupy my mind with thoughts of things that should be rushed toward.

Let us be in a hurry to travel to the Cross.

Where the perishing find life. Where sinners find salvation. And the seeker finds God.

Let us rush to worship.

Where we bow our lives to a merciful God. Where He draws us to a most holy place—near His heart.

Let us make haste to the empty tomb.

Where the Beloved Son was vindicated. Where Life was won for humanity. Where hope gets the fuel it needs for this race.

Let’s rush our thoughts to the Ascension.

Where the glorious, enthroned King was exalted by the Father. But this thought has a tinge to it. Because it stirs up a longing for the return of Christ Jesus. It revives the sense of urgency in the psalmist's words, “Lord, part your heavens and come down” (Psalm 144:4). Again, our expectations of time cannot be imposed—certainly not upon the Lord. But we want Him to come, don’t we? And fast! But, because He is righteous and omniscient, and altogether merciful to save to the uttermost, His timing can be altogether trusted.

Time is not ours to rush or to slow. To try to stall aging. Or hurry retirement. It is to be stewarded. And appreciated for the gift that it is.

Graciously, God has given us all things to endure frustrations with time. He gives us hope. Joy. Patience. Encouragement. And things to manage perspective. Like the lyrics Phil Wickham sings, echoing Scripture, “The struggle here may last a moment, but life with you will last always.”

So, the next time the Google lady shares a traffic update that builds more time into my ride I’ll travel, heart and mind, to my Lord. I’ll meditate upon those significant salvific things He has accomplished within history’s timeline. Such recollections will satisfy my timely expectations. And quench the longing of eternity He’s placed in our hearts.

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