Monday, September 1, 2008

Arabic Time

(Guest Writer - Katie Corbett, VA) recently spent the weekend with a friend’s family at a Christian Arabic Conference in Pennsylvania. Since this is a blog, you are probably picturing me in your mind, wondering what Middle Eastern country I am descendent from. Well, to set the record straight, I am very blonde (at least for now), very blue-eyed, white girl with my ancestors hailing from Slovakia. Needless to say, I stuck out a just bit.

In addition to the obvious differences in physical appearance, the cultural difference was huge. I like to think I am your typical, all-American girl. I love hotdogs and Cleveland and the American flag. And like most Americans, I love to be busy and I love to be on a schedule. I have to stick closely to my pristine day planner to complete all of my daily activities.

On the 2nd day of the conference, after the morning session, it was finally time for lunch. I did not have breakfast that day, so by noon my head was screaming for Starbucks. On my “schedule,” lunch runs daily from 12:00 to 1:30. It was already 12:30. My stomach was starting to grumble a bit when I politely suggested to my friend that maybe we should go eat.

My friend Chris agreed with me, so I left to gather my things. When I returned, Chris had moved farther from the door then when I had left him! So I waited and then I waited some more, listening to the symphony that my stomach was composing. Moments seemed like eternities. Each time we took a step towards the door, something would happen and we would backtrack. Persistently looking down at my phone, I watched minutes and my chance at a hot, caffeinated beverage slipping further and further away. Finally, sensing my distress and growing agitation Chris looks at me and said, “You need to relax…you are on ‘Arabic time.’ This is how we do it.”

Later on that day after I had been caffeinated, I had some time to reflect on how my desire for a well kept schedule reflects my desire for a well kept schedule with God. When I present a problem to God, I expect an immediate answer? God knows exactly how to help me and has all the answers I am looking for, so what is the hold up? Why does God make me continue to pray and pray before he sends back the answer?

I think God is much like my beloved Arabic friends. For both of them, arriving at a final destination is equally important as the process it took to get there. It is not that God is holding out on me, it is more that he is asking to me to sit back, relax and enjoy the process. When God does not supply the answers on my schedule, it forces me to seek harder and trust more openly.

Isn’t that what God desires out of us all? He wants us to diligently seek Him and to come to trust his heart. Although it would be nice to get immediate answers and instant gratification, the immediacy that I crave may, in the end, not be as sweet or draw me closer to the heart of God.

I am not sure I was able to achieve full Arabic status in one weekend, but once I was able to relax and take it all in I realized that my friend probably had it right all along. I am going to get where I need to be, so now I need to sit back, kick up my feet, and enjoy the ride. I am living on Arabic time.


Christine Pettit said...

Wow! This is so good, Katie! I like the way you worded this and related it to God and how our relationship with him isn't supposed to be all "scheduled." I also liked how you correlated your hunger pains with a symphony. hahaha. THis is great!

Anonymous said...

You nailed it Katie. We Arabs love shooting the breeze, joking and getting to know each other way more than being on time (or even 2 hours late!) But watch out. When we DO finally sit down to eat it's like a pack of wolves fighting for their monthly ration!

I never thought of with respect to how God answers prayers. That's great! I'll take that thought with me this week. Thanks!

Amee said...

Great job Katie! Very well written and great insight!

James said...

you are learning to operate on God time (is there any other time? ha ha). this is great! i am so glad that he is growing you closer to himself and showing you the life he wants you to live. thanks for your honesty.

christoph said...

very well written katie. i appreciate you sharing this with us. I guess the goal now is that living on "God time" should be as natural and cultural as "Arabic time".
oh and this Chris friend of yours sounds wise beyond his years, and i somehow also get the impression he is ridiculously good looking, charming, and funny as well. just my insight...

Katie Corbett said...

Thank you Christoph...and Chris is terribly good did you know?

Bass said...

Katie, i really enjoyed reading this. Very well written, and very insightful. Applying the arabic culture comes very easy to me, I pray that i can apply your thoughts to my walk with the Lord just as easily. I learned a great lesson from your writing, thanks for sharing.