Our Sunday message series, Bold Moves, is laying the groundwork for us to take the next step for God. This week’s message features the spiritual power of waiting and delaying gratification.
Among his last words before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to wait. For many people, waiting is a lost art, which can keep them from moving forward in healthy ways because they grow impatient and opt for inferior choices and lifestyles, instead of waiting for the richness of God’s gifts. Here are three easy ways to strengthen your ability to delay gratification.
1. Build Up To It.
Connecting with God takes time, effort, and self-control. It usually doesn’t come naturally and often requires delayed gratification. Start small and build up slowly. If you don’t pray regularly, try a simple invocation at night before you go to bed or first thing when you wake up. My favorite is the Abandonment Prayer by Charles de Foucauld. Or listen to spiritual talks and the Sunday messages we post on our website as you drive to work or take a walk. Once you gradually begin to increase your focus on spiritual things, your desire for the cheap imitations of this world will naturally and organically fade away.
2. Realize It’s Not Forever.
I love my iPhone, but it’s definitely an antique. I sinfully covet the brand new iPhone X but have been holding back until my current model has reached the four-year mark. It’s difficult waiting, but at least I can see the end in sight. Jesus told his disciples that it was not for them “to know the times or seasons that the Father has established” (Acts 1:7), which can make waiting for God to act definitively in our lives even more challenging. Some of us may lose heart because nothing ever seems to change. But Jesus will come, seminary professor Brant Pitre argues, when the bride, his Church, is ready. Our task is to prepare our souls for him and to realize that the waiting one day will be over.
3. Remember the Wins.
Staff members at a Catholic church in Maryland get together every Tuesday morning to celebrate what they call “weekend wins.” Church is simple but not easy. So they prop up their spirits by naming what they have witnessed on Sundays as the positive outcomes of their hard work. To help you delay gratification and wait patiently for God, deliberately remember the wins in your life that God already has given to you. Studies have found that gratitude is correlated with the ability to wait longer for better rewards. Indeed, gratefulness changes the pain of waiting into the joyfulness of expectation.
When it comes to God, delayed gratification is never in vain. One day we will discover that, while we were waiting, God actually was lovingly preparing us for our next bold move.
Father Roger Gustafson