December 8, 2019 by Kgalalelo
I was queuing at the Department of Home Affairs one Saturday morning to apply for a Smart ID card when a middle-aged man stood in front of me, behind his teenage daughter who had been in the queue with me all along. I arrived just after 7.00.a.m to be in the front line for the 8.30 a.m. opening of the doors on that particular day but the community around had beaten me to it.
The Department of Home Affairs in Bloemfontein is located in the township with fairly easy access for people coming from the suburbs, town, nearby townships and the informal settlements. I must say, it is one of the busiest departments in town as people are either applying for identity documents, passports, birth, marriage or death certificate etc.
It was overcast and cold and I believe that all of us were looking forward to the summer rains in the city. We’ve had very high temperatures recently and the fact that many parts of the country have been experiencing drought, the rain was seen as a relief. I was praying though, while standing there that it wouldn’t rain while we were still outside of the building.
When I looked behind me, the queue was almost reaching the entrance gate and I reckoned that it was going to be a long morning. When the door finally opened, the security officer came out and handed the register that all of us may sign in before entering.
One of the department’s officers also came out and assisted the guard in arranging people according to the services they required. Those who came to collect their IDs and passports joined a separate queue, then we had the birth, death and marriage certificates in the middle and then ours, which consisted of applicants for IDs and passports.
I was impressed at how the officials were handling us and providing information for ease of entry and being a communication’s person by profession myself, I thought that was very good. Everyone was comfortable with the arrangements including having a separate plan for parents with teenagers who came for first time issuing of IDs. The process was indeed smooth.
Watching the scale of people queuing on the day, I began a conversation with the man who was before me murmuring about the time it would take to finally obtain assistance and go home. The flesh always has concerns no matter how pleasant things are and if somebody else agrees with a deformed viewpoint then the dialogue carries on like that and the situation magnified; and so I thought.
Being on a spiritual journey and thinking that one is always in sync with God is not always the case. Every now and then we all miss the mark and begin or entertain conversations that do not serve us, thus perpetuating ignorance. The one minute we pray and the next undo the things we have prayed for.
When the man gently responded that he had learnt to be patient in situations that he finds himself in, I realised that he was waking me up from unconsciousness. What I thought was a simple chat turned out to be a reminder to exercise patience and understanding, knowing that everyone who queued, was there for the same reason as I was.
They wouldn’t have chosen any other day including that man, because one soul needed to awaken to the quality of patience that is already inside each of us. I thanked him for nudging me in a way that he did and he began giving me more instances where he had to be patient. My ‘teacher’, as I believe that’s why he came, informed me that he conditioned himself for anything before he left home because he was aware of the probability of finding the place jam-packed.
When we murmur, we are not grateful, it is as simple as that. I was, therefore, not thankful enough for having arrived early; to find the queue shorter before others arrived; having a greater chance to be one of the first few to be assisted; that though it was overcast, it hadn’t begun to rain; that it was on a Saturday, I didn’t have to take a day off from work using the fewer days I had remaining and that everyone including the officials were friendly, helpful and kind.
I had a list of things to be grateful for and everyone in the queue as well could find things they also could be grateful for even if they stood at the end of the queue. It is a mindset shift and when we begin to give thanks and praise God, surprisingly things change for the better. Teaching also means that we have to learn what we teach and to be reminded as well by others lest we forget and teach out of habit or routine.
While still outside in the queue, an older man walked past all of us and went to the front of the queue and a woman who had been standing behind me stepped out of the queue and walked over to the man and confronted him.
The man had been holding some papers in his hand and judging from where I was, it seemed he wanted to submit those documents or enquire about something from the officials who had already went into the building before letting all of us in. It could have been anything but the approach from the lady was aggressive.
When we were about to go inside, she was one of the few that was moved to a shorter queue as she only came to collect her passport. The confrontation was, therefore, unnecessary as the man had come for the same thing and she therefore stood behind him; problem solved.
Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”. Also, in James 5:9 we are advised, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door”.
When we mumble and grumble sometimes is uncalled for because we do not understand circumstances of other people but if we ask with humility, an explanation can be given which, when you listen, makes perfect sense. Whether the woman felt grateful or not to be in a shorter queue after all, we’ll never know, but hopefully she was and it was a lesson to never challenge without full knowledge but to be patient with others and await the unfoldment of certain processes.
Proverbs 14:29 says, "Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly”.
Many of the Israelites who mumbled and grumbled to Moses died in the wilderness as God stated in Numbers 14:23 that those who treated Him with contempt would never see the Promised Land. Their impatience caused them their lives and the benefits awaiting them in the land of milk and honey.
Instead of praising God and feeling grateful for the journey itself from the land of slavery, that is, Egypt, they moaned throughout their travel.
Impatience clearly lead to complaints and once we begin to whine, we lose focus of the good that is all around us. Many things could have gone wrong on the day that I went to the department but recognising the good always supersedes the imperfect.
Let us proceed on this day with patient and loving hearts knowing that we all share space on earth; it won’t hurt to yield to another on the road or wait a little longer in the queue.
Footnote: Scriptures taken from the The Holy Bible, New King James Version, 1982: Nashville, TN, Thomas Nelson, Inc. & The ESV Global Study Bible®, ESV® Bible, Copyright © 2012 by Crossway. All rights reserved & The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ (2004). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers. he Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible, BSB Copyright ©2016, 2018 by Bible Hub Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
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