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by Rubel Shelly
We Americans tend to be impatient. But something happened on Tuesday, August 29, 2001, that made me pause, feel an appropriate sense of embarrassment, and ask God to help me deal with my proneness to impatience.
Commuters in Seattle were stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam. The congestion was on a bridge that spans a busy ship canal connecting Puget Sound to Lake Union and Lake Washington. Police had stopped northbound traffic during the morning rush hour because a 28-year-old woman had perched on a railing and was threatening suicide.
Despite Seattles image as a laid-back city of kindhearted folks, recent increases in highway congestion have exposed occasional short tempers and harsh confrontations. This one was particularly ugly. As police personnel tried to calm the woman and talk her down, people caught in the massive traffic jam became indignant over the inconvenience she was causing them.
A spokesman for the police department said people were calling for her to get it over with. Commuters were coming by and urging her to jump, and that was on the mild side of what they said, Clem Benton said. Im not going to repeat the other things they said.
What tone does a tired Mom use with her child at the end of a hard day? How does a sports-fan dad react to his childs request to read a book or help with homework? Parenting is hard work and makes demands at inconvenient times.
Have you noticed how much encouragement it takes for a new believer? Do you know that alcoholics often need to talk to somebody at 2:30 in the morning? Are you aware that people who lead others to Christ typically do so by investing huge amounts of time and interest in them over time? Spiritual service calls for the sacrifice of time and energy on the behalf of others.
Wouldnt you like for just one day to go the way youd planned it? Life would be so neat and tidy. You could get everything done that needs doing. You would have time for a leisurely dinner at the end of the day. And when was the last time you had a day like that?
The poor lady in Seattle jumped, was fished out of the water, and rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Flowers, gifts, and public apologies have been offered to her. It probably would have been better if people simply showed her some compassion on that awful Tuesday when she was despondent.
Try to remember her story the next time you are exasperated.
Author: Rubel Shelly
Publication Date: October 2, 2001
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