On my work space shelf, I have a box of instant oatmeal. It’s relatively healthy, full of fiber, and low in the bad stuff. I have it on hand for those days when I rush off to work, my tummy empty since the night before, my blood sugar low, and nary a minute to sit on my couch and eat breakfast while contemplating life. It is my breakfast safety net.
As far as instant breakfasts go, it’s good. Maple and brown sugar, with dried cranberries thrown in for extra fiber and an antioxidant effect. But compared to real breakfasts, in the privacy and comfort of my home with no job anxiety yet before me, it does not satisfy. I would far rather eat breakfast at home any day of the week.
We live in a society where the instant is highly valued. Instant breakfast. Instant cash. Instant internet. Instant messaging. Instant cures. Instant results. You can even get instant degrees. I am affected by this instant value and mantra far more than I would like to admit. One of the observations I have made about the “me” who lives in the United States as compared to the “me” who lived, and still travels, internationally is that I am far more patient in Egypt, or Pakistan, or Haiti or Mexico. I go into a different place where I am more reliant on God, less on self, and the instant is not often available.
As far as the instant goes, I’m convinced that it is far from the truth as relayed in the word of God. In the famous “Faith Hall of Famers” passage in the book of Hebrews, the abbreviated life stories of several people, heroes of the Christian faith, are told. Their longings and promises were not fulfilled in an instant. In verse 13 the words say “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” The end of the chapter gives the final explanation: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
My world calls me to instant access. God calls me to slow process. My world promises instant change. God promises slow and lasting transformation. May the voice and promise of God be more compelling than the voice of my world.
Bloggers Note: In the 1980’s a group called “Wendy & Mary” put out a couple of albums. They didn’t last long and I’m sure my kids (music snobs, every last one of them!) will mock me for posting this, but most of their lyrics were thoughtful and I loved their voices…so much that I wanted to be them. Linked here is a song they wrote called “Instant Breakfast”. It is the inspiration for this blog post.
“Instant breakfast, instant life,
Anything easy ‘cuz that’s what we like –
Fast food places and banks with no lines,
Anything easy, that will do fine.
Microwave ovens, mom’s dream come true –
Put it on credit, take it with you.
Drive through car wash only 2.98 –
Very convenient the American Way.
Polaroid cameras, remote garage doors,
Instant coffee, K-Mart stores,
Avon ladies right at your door,
Home computers, who could want more?
Instant Christian, changed overnight,
Anything easy ‘cuz that’s what we like.
Help me grow, Lord. Show me how.
Give me the patience! I want it now!”