I want it all, and I want it now
Some songs just stick with you through life. When I was 19, British rock band, Queen, released a song call I Want It All. It reached number three on the singles charts of the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland and New Zealand.
I Want It All is described as being notably heavy and feature’s themes relating to rebellion and social upheaval, so much so that it became known as an anti-apartheid song in South Africa and was also being used as a gay rights protest theme and a rallying anthem for African-American youth in the United States of America.
It’s the chorus that has always stuck with me as a rallying cry for Gen X’ers like me who to this day carry the highest debt load of any generation with our incessant desire to have everything, and because we can, to have it now.
As we start to emerge from the haze of the last two years of COVID19, the chorus in this hit song still seems to echo through our heads and our hearts as we start to dream of what many are calling the ‘new normal.’
When it comes to the new normal, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.
But do I want it all, and do I want it now?
Patience is a virtue
Having patience is not something that my generation is particularly adept at; we’ve been conditioned to strive for success early, the quicker we can rise to the top the more amazing we are, buy-now-pay-later, instant gratification. I remember being considered mildly successful by virtue of owning [a small part of] our first home at aged 21 and by having my first management position in the finance sector at aged 23. I wanted it all, and I wanted it then.
Time has brought with it much reflection and significant personal growth as I’ve had to navigate the rocky road of understanding what constitutes success. It hasn’t been an easy journey and yet it’s one made more profound by allowing time to shape and mould my worldview.
While those around me are insidiously strategising and planning for the new normal, the new way of living, the new way of working, the new way of ‘doing’ church, for perhaps one of the first times in my life I don’t really have any answers and I’m simply waiting, listening, observing, trying to make sense of what we may have learnt through a prolonged season of change we never saw coming.
We learn from history
I heard it said many years ago that, “what we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.” I would like to think that for those of us who call ourselves Christians that we have a head start over this phrase because what we call the Word of God, the Bible, is to us an opportunity to learn that history shapes us for the better, if we choose to learn from it.
From a young age we taught the great stories of faith. Another word for great stories of faith could be great stories of patience. Think of Abraham and Sarah and the promise of God which only occurred well beyond what any reasonable person would consider, reasonable. Think of Joseph and the decades of persecution he endured before God’s promise to him was fulfilled. Think of Moses and the people of Israel wandering in the dessert for … a long time. Think of the generations of people waiting for a Saviour.
Scripture affirms patience as a virtue
To say that the value of patience is mentioned in the Bible would be an understatement. Patience is embedded in the Bible as a core tenant of the creation of humanity; patience is something that God has given us as a gift for living.
In describing the reality of life that we still experience to this day, the psalmist figuratively writes in the second half of Psalm chapter 30, verse 5, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” The implication being that there are seasons in life that are hard, we weep, but if we give God permission to help us through these seasons, we will rejoice with Him on the other side.
The Apostle Paul reiterates the challenges of every day living with each other in the letter he writes to Christians living in the city of Ephesus. In chapter 4, verse 2 of that letter, he says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
Patience is one of the keys to living a more, peaceful, life.
Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau sums up well by saying, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”
The new normal will arrive when its ready
As we strive to implement the new normal, it’s clear that we don’t know what we’re implementing. The rhythms of life and work coming out of COVID19 are yet to be discovered. For those of us who work vocationally within the church, none of us know what the future looks like or how the patterns of community life will function.
Patience is a virtue, it’s a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.
We will learn what a new normal looks like, but it will take time, and plenty of reflection.
I don’t want it all, and I definitely don’t want it now.
Grant Harris is a reformed banker who has been the Senior Pastor of Windsor Park Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand, for eleven years. Grant’s passionate about seeing people catch a glimpse of who they are in Christ and living out the difference that makes. He’s tried living according to the patterns of this world and found that those patterns came up short. He’s still a work-in-progress and always will be. You can contact Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.