Waiting. Like me, most Americans don’t do it very well. We can be a bit impatient, can’t we? With our busy-busy lives and surrounded by an always-in–a-hurry society, we just don’t like to wait. The American landscape is filled with monuments to our culturally ingrained impatience. Think about it. The “convenience store,” the “drive-thru” window where we get “fast” food in “to go” containers and coffee in paper cups are all meant to help us live life in the fast lane. They all revolve around our overly-filled schedules.

The quintessential symbol of our societal impatience, however, is found in the microwave oven.  Zap your frozen food and voila! Three minutes later, dinner. In the past few days, however, my daughters and I have rediscovered the beauty of that ancient cooking device known as the crock pot or slow cooker. As autumn turned toward winter, I hauled out my slow cooker and put it to work. We’ve found that cooking chicken all day with taco seasoning, slowly developing its flavor, turns it into wonderful shredded chicken for tacos or nachos. Chicken, potatoes, and carrots cooked slowly in broth make a hearty meal, too. Score one for slowing down, letting the crock pot work all day, and producing a beautifully flavored meal. Not to mention the wonderful fragrance when we walk in the door at the end of the day.

A few days of slow-cooked meals got me thinking of a spiritual illustration, as things in my everyday life often do. Did you know that God has a slow cooker? How do I know this? Because I’ve been in it! Let me explain. It’s not a literal crock pot, of course. I do think, however, that slow cooking is a fitting analogy for the process of spiritual growth. That kind of growth often happens when we face life’s inevitable challenges. True, I’ve had my “microwave moments” with God, like the moment of my conversion, when I put my faith in Jesus Christ.  That was sudden and instantaneous. But this process of spiritual growth, referred to by Bible teachers as sanctification, is more of a slow cooker experience. In Galatians 5:22 and following Paul describes the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” (including patience), which seems to develop in my life during long waits. I pray, and then I wait. And wait. And wait. “Hurry up,” I impatiently pray, but God isn’t always in as much of a hurry as I am.

In the book of Genesis, Joseph found this out the hard way. His whole story can be found in Genesis, chapters 37-50. It would be worth your time to sit back, relax, slow down, and spend a few days or weeks reading it through, one page at a time. For our purposes, here’s the abridged version. Joseph, while still a very young man, had a God-given dream of becoming a great leader. He impetuously shared the dream with his brothers. In a fit of jealousy, they rejected Joseph, threw him down a well, and sold him to foreign slave traders. Throughout his years of slavery, false accusations, and even prison, Joseph kept his integrity. He remained faithful to God. In the end, Joseph’s dream was fulfilled. He was raised to a mighty position of leadership. From that position, God was able to use Joseph as a lifesaver for many people, including his undeserving brothers, to whom he extended total forgiveness. In God’s slow cooker, Joseph’s character was seasoned. It is important to note, however, that the great difficulty Joseph faced was not brought about by God, but by the sin of other people. Ultimately, Joseph’s terrible circumstances brought him into a place from which he could do a great work of saving lives for God.

How about you?  Are you in God’s slow cooker? If you feel your prayers for a “microwave solution” have left you feeling frustrated, anxious, or a bit hopeless at times, take your cue from Joseph. He chose to let his terrible circumstances make him better, not bitter. He extended forgiveness to the most despicable people, and God gave him peace in exchange. When you don’t understand the challenges or difficulties you face, simply stay faithful to God and keep praying. Sometimes that’s all we know how to do, and that’s okay. Pray and ask for God’s solution to the problem, then ask for his help to wait patiently for it. In the end, you will come out as a well-seasoned Christian with a delicious aroma, the fragrance of Christ.

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7-9 (NKJV)

Janet DeCaster Perrin is a Christian writer and speaker. She is a wife and mom who is passionate about encouraging others to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ and to walk closely with him on the road of everyday life. She has served as a women’s pastor, Bible college adjunct faculty member, church and Christian school volunteer, and missions team member. She holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a J.D. from Emory University School of Law, and a Certificate of Biblical Studies from ACTS International Bible College. She is also licensed for Christian ministry with RAIN (Resurrection Apostolic International Network). You can find her blog at asamaritanwomanspeaks.blogspot.com and contact her at asamaritanwomanspeaks@gmail.com.