Thursday, December 5, 2013

Waiting in the Queue with 3 Million Books

Thanksgiving has passed.  While I'm grateful my sleep schedule and waistline have returned to their proper times and places, the holiday was wonderful.  I got some much needed time off of work and spent a few days at home with family, eating, napping, and watching football.  Mom and I ventured out Friday morning for some shopping and I made a spur of the moment purchase.  In my defense, I've wanted one for a while but have been holding out.  My excuse is always -

"The price will drop again in a few months."

"In a year the technology will be old and outdated."

"They are expensive.  What if I accidentally drop it and it breaks and then I'm out a lot of money."

But, on Friday, now with the excuse that I'll be travelling again soon, I bought an e-reader.  I had done a little research but went with the Nook, feeling a little brand loyalty toward my former employer.  I swore I would never fall victim to any device like this.  I love wandering though a used bookstore (or really any bookstore for that matter, but used is certainly more desirable), searching, tracing my fingers along worn spines and soft pages.  Bonus points if they are dog-eared or underlined.

But travelling with books can be cumbersome.  It's very tempting to know that I can have whole libraries at my fingertips, or purchase new titles with no lines and no waiting.  The $50 off special going for black Friday sent the price below 3 digits and I made the leap.  As if to further comfort me in my snap decision, my heart rate increasing ever so slightly as I watch my register numbers rise, the guy beside me in line began talking about how he was buying one for his wife.  She is also an avid reader and, like me, was turned off by the idea of the digital format.  "But wait till she's cold, snuggled under a blanket while reading, and only has to touch one finger to turn the page."

Truer words have never been spoken.

I haven't been able to put it down since I bought it.  Earlier this week, about 10pm, I finished a loaned book and immediately checked out another.  I can borrow from any library in the city.  I can purchase something new whenever I like.

I was in love for a whole three days before I started to think about the downfalls of this type of technology.  The instant gratification mindset that it encourages is infectious.  I don't have to wait to get another book.  I can get one right now, any time of day, just about any book I want.  What other things should I not have to wait for?

This idea was juxtaposed by Sunday's sermon at church.  My Nook was waiting patiently in the car for my return, practically begging me to hurry and pick up where I left off.  The sermon for this first Sunday in Advent was all about exactly the opposite - it was about waiting.  I have become increasingly more aware of a season of waiting in my life, a season that has lasted longer than I would have liked, given the choice.

Our culture today emphasizes, and even encourages, a quick pace.  Energy drinks claim to get you through your work day, boasting that they can increase your energy with no annoying crash later. One might be swayed by their not-so-subtle ads, full of office assistants going from flat to fast with smiles on their faces.  We have coffee makers ready to perk any number of coffee varieties in under a minute, in your own individual cup - no need to share a pot with someone else anymore.  Smartphones keep us constantly connected and increase our presence in the world of work.  It is becoming harder and harder to be still without something in our hands, something to occupy us.

So, as one brand of candy famously asks - Why wait? 

As my pastor Tom pointed out on Sunday, waiting abolishes self-reliance.  It is in this season of waiting that I am learning to wait on the Lord and his timing.  Waiting teaches a quiet, simple confidence that the Lord will do what he says he will do.  I serve a true God, one who keeps his word.  I serve a loving God, who knows me and care for me more deeply than I could ever image.  If I were given everything right off, I would miss the care the Lord takes in orchestrating my life.  Without a constant awareness of His hand in my life, I would miss all the subtle nuances and tiny treasures he sends my way everyday.

However, as anyone who's well versed in the art of waiting will tell you, these realities don't always things easier.  The idea of instant gratification that our culture has has such a deep hold on us.  We are inundated with us everyday.  Waiting is hard.  No one said it would be easy.  But a change is happening.  A change in me - small, imperceptible changes that I can't see but that are necessary.

I know that something good will come with the waiting.  Something that was never expected.

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