“Wait your turn.”
“I’ll be waiting for you in the lobby.”
“Wait here. The doctor will see you in a few minutes.”
Does it seem like we spend a lot of our time waiting?
As a young mom I remember impatiently waiting for a baby to give me a smile that was a reaction to his mommy and not just gas. I would finally get that smile and I would begin waiting for that baby to sit up on his own. That would finally happen and I would begin waiting for that child to crawl, walk, sleep…the list could go on. It took me too many years to learn that I was so busy waiting for the next stage that I was missing out on the joys of the present one.
As the babies grew into bigger people, I have said that all the time I spent waiting for my kids must add up to at least five years of my life. Before any of the kids had a driver’s license, I was the chauffeur. If an activity was scheduled to end at 5:00, being the OCD mom that I was, I made sure to be there at least five minutes early just in case it ended sooner than scheduled. You would think after a couple years of this I would have learned that very seldom does anything end early. In fact, more often than not, it didn’t even end on time. I found myself waiting most of the time. Some activities were worse than others. For example, one of our sons participated in the theater program in high school. Rehearsals were every day after school and scheduled to end at 5:00 PM. I would arrive by 4:55 PM and take my place in the line of cars waiting to pick up a cast member. Waiting. There’s that word again. And waiting is exactly what I did. Five o’clock would come and go and still no son. My neck would be sore from staring at the door. When one cast member appeared, I watched more intently for the one who belonged to me. It seems he was always the last to leave! Theater practice never ended on time. I remember being so stressed on Wednesday afternoons. He was supposed to be done with rehearsal at 5:00. He had to be at church at 5:30 for worship band rehearsal before leading worship for middle school youth group which started at 6:00. Of course, a teenage boy has to eat dinner, especially after having spent the last ten hours at school. Sometimes I would pack a peanut butter sandwich, some cookies, and a bottle of water or Gatorade and he would quickly snarf it down on the five minute ride (depending on stoplights and speed) from the school to the church. Sometimes I would have to drop him off at church so he could start that rehearsal while I ran back to McDonalds to get a #2 cheeseburger meal to then take back to the church for him to eat.
Waiting at the school.
Waiting at McDonalds. (His cheeseburgers HAD to be plain so of course that took longer)
Waiting after youth group to bring him home after a long day.
Theatre, soccer, band, choir, marching band, voice lessons, basketball, track…you get the idea. I spent SO much time waiting for someone.
Our society is not good at waiting. We have microwaves that cook our food quickly so we don’t have to wait for a slow oven like my mom did. We have remote controls so we don’t have to wait the extra few seconds it would take to actually get up and change the television channel. We have remote start on our cars so we don’t have to shiver waiting for the heat to be hot. The car is all toasty and warm when we get into it. We don’t even have to wait and take the time to scrape our windows. We just press the remote start button and let the defroster do its work. (By the way, I do not have remote start on my vehicle but I have been known to whine about it) We have access to worlds of information at the touch of a finger or the click of a mouse. We don’t have to wait until the library is open in order to look up the information we need. We have fast food that is bagged and in our hands much faster than a home cooked meal would take. I don’t know about where you live, but it seems where I live there isn’t a driver on the road that actually stops when making a right on red. If a car is coming, they have to wait and the look on their face reveals the frustration rising in their bodies. A green light turning yellow, especially if it happens to be an arrow only turn at a busy intersection, is not respected by most drivers. In fact, it seems to be a challenge—how many cars can get through the light before the cars given the green the other direction start coming through? A children’s television show once said, “Red means stop, green means go, Yellow means WAIT—better go slow!” Yellow no longer means wait—it means floor it so we don’t have to sit here and WAIT for another cycle of lights.
Why is it so hard to wait? Is it because we are so busy that we feel we don’t have a second to spare? Is it because we are so accustomed in this instant gratification society that we no longer know how to wait? Does waiting accomplish anything good?
I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting lately because I have found myself in God’s waiting room. When God puts you in a position to wait, He is always aware of our thoughts and frustrations that come with the waiting. Thoughts like:
“Doesn’t God realize I do not have time for an illness right now?” or
“Come on, God. Surely you know that I am called to preach your Word. How do you expect me to do that if I have this big trial in my life?”
What if we looked at waiting from a different perspective? John Ortberg said, “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer said, “Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.” It seems these men understand something about waiting that I need to learn.
I was (once again) reading Psalms this morning. Remember, I said I am in God’s waiting room. We’ve all experienced the waiting room scenario. You show up on time for an appointment only to hear those words, “Have a seat. The doctor will be with you shortly.” Next thing you know, “shortly” is 45 minutes after your scheduled appointment time…and you are still waiting. As I was reading through Psalm 27, I came across a verse highlighted in my Bible. It reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (v. 14) Next to that verse, I had written the words, “Waiting time is not wasting time.” I remember when I wrote those words. They were spoken by my former pastor and friend and he told them to me in the middle of a fiery marriage trial. (Sometime soon I’ll tell that full story here) You see, as humans we operate on time, and if time seems like it’s being wasted or is taking too long, we get frustrated. God, though, doesn’t operate on time. God puts us in situations and circumstances for the purpose of refining us. We are uncomfortable in the fire so we pray for the fire to be put out. When it isn’t, our mind may begin to wonder if God is really aware of what is happening. Of course He is aware…He is in control of all things, even my trial. David said to take heart and be strong and WAIT. Too often, I wait but not with strength or willing endurance. That is where I have found myself lately. I am not proud of this, but I am willing to be honest about it. When in that waiting room of wondering and doubt, what is most needed is encouragement from brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, when in that waiting room, I tend to isolate and become reclusive. I feel like such a burden to those around me, and I am convinced they see me that way too, so it is best for me to avoid interaction while I wait in misery. BUT, that is not what God’s Word tells me to do. I did a search on the word “wait” in the Bible. It didn’t take very long to see that waiting is something God not only wants me to do, but He wants me to do it willingly.
Waiting through depression…
Waiting through disease…
Waiting through a change of life’s seasons…
In God’s plan I guess we are called to wait much more than our society is comfortable doing. I know I would welcome the prayers of friends as I wait through some tough things in God’s waiting room right now. I know there have to be others in the same place. Let’s pray for each other—to wait patiently, to endure willingly, and to come out the other side of the trial stronger in our testimony for God.