It was definitely a first world problem. Still at school when I wanted to be at home, I was printing off tests for the following day. The lovely printer (that a couple years ago I found incredible because it could print double-sided, staple, and three-hole punch documents) was now testing my patience.
The printer would spit out a few copies, stop, and then flash a message saying that it had a paper jam. I opened the main compartment, pulled out three pieces of paper in various stages of the printing process, and forcefully closed the panel. Then I opened a lower paper tray and pulled out another piece of crumpled paper. The printer resumed its job.
For a couple copies at least. Then the process repeated itself. I was tired and wanted to be at home, not fixing paper jam after paper jam on a printer. Generally, I consider myself to be a fairly patient person. But this was testing my resolve. I needed just a few more copies before the job was completed, and I didn’t want to spend my time throwing away crumpled pieces of paper.
So, Lord, what can you be teaching me in this?
Sadly, I must assure you that this is not my go-to question. I’m not walking around, constantly seeing the Lord’s hand in everything. But every now and then, the Lord will remind me that He is present and will shine through in the midst of some mundane activity. Like changing a light bulb or fixing a paper jam.
As I pulled the papers out of the main compartment, I was thinking, “I already did this. I don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again!”
And it struck me. How often God must have to do the same things over and over again with me. I will be attempting to power along on my own energy and then I will, finally, realize something is wrong. It isn’t like it is a new problem, a new sin, or a new difficulty. I find myself doing the same thing over and over again. Like the printer that keeps jamming, I keep thinking that maybe this time it will work my way.
The Lord, patiently, fixes the problem once I bring it to Him. It isn’t that I do the same thing a couple times. I have said before that I am a slow learner and rather dense. The Lord would tell you that I have not exaggerated in the least. Time after time after time, I do what I already know won’t work. And then I act surprised when it doesn’t work.
For example, I need to pray. I feel better when I pray. If I don’t pray much, I think all day about how I haven’t prayed enough. Yet I will try to go without praying. When I finally realize again that I need God and return to prayer, I am amazed at how much it helps. You would think that I would learn my lesson, but I keep trying to be independent and self-sufficient when I know I am weak and helpless.
The Lord very patiently and very tenderly fixes that paper jam. He doesn’t rip my heart open and then slam it shut. He works with it, slowly and gently. It is never a burden for Him and He never threatens to give up and start working on someone else. After the copies finished printing, I switched to a different printer. God doesn’t. He looks at the crumpled papers and sees the possibilities.
What was the Lord teaching me in this? That no matter the number of inaccurate copies or ruined sheets of paper, He will never stop working on this heart. His patience is without limit.
I’d say that realization was worth a few extra minutes at the printer.