Sunday, February 14, 2021

Keeping Cool When the Meal’s Overdue

by Martin Wiles @LinesFrom God

A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them. Proverbs 15:18 NLT

“I’d like to take ya’ll to lunch at _________. Would that be okay?”

When the lead teacher sent the email, excitement crept over me. I enjoyed our In-Service day since I needed time to catch up on grading papers and to complete a few other writing projects. But since we only had a few parent-teacher conferences scheduled, the day was beginning to drag. I quickly accepted—as did all the other teachers.

But when her next email told us where she planned to take us, my anticipation drained. I had only been there half a dozen times. Although the food was good, the service was beyond slow. Knowing we had to be back in two hours for a conference—and realizing I had more work to do—my nerves kicked in.

As we walked into the restaurant, I noticed only a few customers sitting at tables. Ahead of us stood one couple—languishing at the register as the cashier took their order, a task that took her five minutes. I felt anxiety stepping on my back. Finally, our turn came. We ordered in succession and then walked to our table. The cashier gave us no drinks, something they normally do. My nervousness grew a little more.

Time passed quickly as we talked about school and life events. But after thirty minutes, I suggested our lead teacher check on our food. She stood in the line—a line that fluctuated as some walked out because of the slow service. When she encountered a man who had been waiting thirty minutes for his take-out order, she decided she wouldn’t ask about our food after all. 

We talked for another fifteen minutes, and again, I suggested she check on our food. We had waited for almost an hour and would not have time to eat and get back to our conference if we didn’t get our food pronto. She got no explanation, but our food finally began to arrive. And did I mention this was a soup and sandwich shop? How long does it take to prepare a cup of soup and half of a sandwich? I never had done either in a restaurant, but I imagined I could have done a better job. 

I’d like to say I kept my cool during this anxiety-producing episode. And I did do a better job than I have in the past. But as I thought about all I could have been doing back at school, and as I worried about being late for our appointment, my patience crouched low and my anxiety stood tall. Naturally, I didn’t enjoy my food since I had to gulp it. 

In years past, I would have approached the manager with an attitude and perhaps a few choice words. This time I kept my mouth shut—as the writer of Proverbs suggests. Doing so isn’t easy since it goes against my natural bent to get things done. Patience is a virtue—and one that takes a long time…even years…to develop for some. Me included. 

Like the lions in Daniel’s den, God closed my mouth that day. Oh, my peers and I expressed our frustrations at the table, but we left them there. We knew our witness for Christ would have been at stake had we chosen to express them publicly. 

God knows our personalities—whether we are naturally patient or struggle to be. When in situations where we want to react in ways that would not please Him, He can help us keep our cool and preserve our witness for Him—even when the meal is looooong overdue. 

Let God teach you how to be patient in situations where your patience has fled out the front door.


Martin Wiles is the founder of Love Lines from God ( and serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. He has authored six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, author, and pastor.

1 comment:

  1. Sure been there. Thank you for the humor and the honesty in your message. This works well with editors too. :-)