“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalm 17:14
The other night I decided to head to bed before the rest of my family. I shut the door to my room, turned off the light and headed toward my pillow. Unfortunately, before before I quite made it, my foot, more specifically the three smallest toes on my left foot, ran straight into the corner bedpost. Pain shot through my foot and up my leg. I clutched my foot and fell onto the bed. To say it hurt was an understatement. It felt as if my toes were being severed from my foot! I curled up into a fetal position, holding my curled up toes like they might fall off at any moment. I winced and wondered how in the world anything so small could hurt so bad.
Part of the problem was that I had walked across that dark room with total confidence. I didn’t inch my way along. I didn’t hold my hands out in front of me probing the darkness. I marched across that room in full stride knowing exactly where I was going, even though I couldn’t see a thing. So, when my toes hit the post, they weren’t creeping by, they were high stepping it. And they high stepped it right into a wooden barricade.
It reminded me of one of the Bible lessons the boys and I discussed this week about the dangers of impulsiveness.
Impulsive isn’t a word I would normally use to describe myself. I am a planner, an organizer, definitely not a risk-taker. But God has a way of using everyday experiences, even stubbed toes, to teach me important lessons that I might sometimes otherwise ignore.
Just because I am not normally impulsive does not mean that I don’t fall prey to that particular vice on occasion. How many times do I plunge headfirst into a conversation, thoughtlessly saying things that would be better left unsaid? How many times do I blindly say “yes” or “no” to a commitment without giving it appropriate thought—and prayer—to consider what would really be best for me or my family, or more importantly, what God would have me to do? How many times do I act or react without really thinking about the consequences of my actions? And how many times do I suffer as a result of my actions?
Impulsiveness is often an act of self-confidence and, dare I say it, idolatry. Just like me tramping across my dark bedroom fully aware of where I was going—even when I wasn’t—we humans like to think that we know best for ourselves, that we are in control, that we know the way. At it’s worst, when we are impulsive we are saying that we know better or at least enough so that we don’t have to seek God’s will or wants for us. We don’t have to ask for directions. We don’t need the Light. Basically, we are putting ourselves in the place of God.
But we don’t know best. We don’t know the way, and then, we pay the price. And many times that price is much more painful than a stubbed toe.
The opposite of impulsiveness is self-control, and the Bible consistently advises us to be self-controlled. Galatians 5:22-23 lists self-control as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Titus 1:8 lists it among other qualifications for an elder. And there are various other verses encouraging Christians to avoid impulsiveness in various areas of their lives, including how we speak, how we handle our anger, and how we handle sexual temptation. But perhaps one of my favorites is also one of the most simple.
Psalm 17:14 says, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
Had I simply waited for my night eyes to kick in, I would have been able to see my way across the room. It wouldn’t have taken long, maybe a few seconds. I was too impatient, too impulsive. I was tired. I wanted to go to bed. I knew the way. I didn’t give it a second thought. And I paid the price.
Let’s learn from my mistake. Life is full of obstacles, some as familiar as the floor-plan of your own bedroom. Don’t be deceived. Take a breath, talk to God, and wait patiently. Wait for His guidance. Wait for His green light. Wait for His Word. Avoid the stubbed toes, the bruised egos, the battered emotions, and the extra baggage. Avoid impulsiveness. “Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”