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The Cure for “I Want It NOW!”

The Cure for “I Want It NOW!”

It can be an icon of an hourglass slowly filling or a spinning pinwheel of color on your computer’s screen, but wait more than 16 seconds for a web page to load and some of us might lose it. Waiting for a traffic signal to change? Then 25 seconds might be the limit of your endurance.

That’s the word from a survey of 2,000 British adults conducted by OnePoll for stationery supplier Bic. While we don’t have equivalent research from the United States, it’s not unreasonable to imagine Americans manifesting as little patience—or even less—than our transatlantic cousins.

“Patience is a virtue, but it’s becoming an exceedingly rare quality in modern society,” a reporter at wrote about the survey. “Three quarters of those surveyed said they believe the dominance of digital technology, such as smartphones and on-demand TVs, are to blame for this ever-growing lack of patience,” the reporter added.

As anyone who’s been in line ahead of an impatient soul can tell you, “exceedingly rare” might be an understatement. Those who are more self-aware will admit their own impatience often gets the best of them. (According to the survey, 95 percent of those responding still believe patience is a virtue.)

Waiting for a Handwritten Note
There are exceptions, of course. Folks in Britain will happily wait 2.8 days for a grocery order, placed online, to be delivered. They say they’ll wait nearly four days for a handwritten letter in the mail, although these same folks get antsy after waiting 20 seconds for ink to dry on a greeting card.

“Thanks to technology, modern life moves faster than ever, but it also seems we’re still willing to wait that little bit longer for a good old-fashioned handwritten letter—an extra day in fact,” said Jo Hollins, head of marketing at Bic’s U.K. and Ireland branch.

What does all this have to do with the Sabbath, universally understood as a day of rest? Quite a bit, when you consider it. We’ve been conditioned in this modern world to have things ready “on the double,” if not faster. A click at an online retailer will get you that bauble or bangle overnight—or on the same day if you spend enough and order on time.

Can’t waste time roaming the aisles at your grocery store? Click a button and your food will be brought to your door—or be ready for pickup at a curbside location. Drive in, drive out, get on your way. (And, granted, that’s a plus for busy moms with a carload of kids.)

But the hurry-up nature of today’s lifestyles can spill over even into the Sabbath. Did that Bible study start on time? Why not? Will the sermon run five minutes longer than usual? What’ll happen to lunch?

The late Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his book The Sabbath, wrote this long before the era of smartphones and “swipe right” options: “There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things … becomes our sole concern.”

And yet “the control of space” and “the acquisition of things” drives many of us to anxiously await the arrival of the delivery truck, or the ping of email software signaling an incoming message. It’s why some of us go into debt leasing faster and more powerful automobiles, seeking to maximize driving capability while minimizing travel time.

Time Now Has a Price
Even time itself has a price: Famous watchmaker Vacheron Constantin, in business since 1755, announced a timepiece with 57 “complications,” or specialized functions built into its pocket-sized case. It’s a one-of-a-kind timepiece that took eight years to design and construct, with a reported price tag of $1,000,000. That kind of work demands patience, and in this case, patience has a seven-figure price tag to go with it.

But the Sabbath—a free gift from God at the dawn of creation—goes against all of this. Instead of fussing about traffic lights, web pages, and how long it takes for ink to dry on paper, the Sabbath’s very presence says “rest.” We are commanded to disengage from the world and its routines, and to seek solace in God’s peace and supply. It’s not Amazon Prime that delivers Sabbath rest; it’s God Almighty.

There are a number of blessings to be found in observing the Bible Sabbath, as writer Allen Walker once noted: “The Sabbath is the Lord's appointed day for laying aside all thoughts and activities of a secular nature and for coming together to hear the Word of God,” he wrote.

The Sabbath is also a family day on which, as far as possible, we should invest time in supporting our loved ones. As our article notes, “Sabbath is the day we should set aside all the distractions of the world, so we can draw close to Jesus and learn from Him. With our focus on the Creator, we can honor Him and His special day as a family, and God promises we will be greatly blessed!”

Impatience, typified by our pique at waiting for a web page to load, is a sure way to guarantee a lack of peace in our lives. The Sabbath, which calls us to disconnect from the world, is a crucial step toward restoring that balance.