The waiting room. Who likes to wait? You go to the doctor, you wait. You go to the DMV, you wait. You go to the grocery store, you wait in line. You get on an airplane, you wait until you land. Every person has seasons where they are in a waiting room- only it's a waiting room that God brought you to, not one you walked into. Everyone's waiting room looks different. Sometimes you are in more than one waiting room at a time. Some people might really want to get married, but haven't met the right person, and are waiting. Some people might want to have a family, but are waiting to get pregnant. Some people have a feasable dream career, and their waiting is in a undesirable job for a time. Some people may have lost a loved one, and are waiting to heal. My waiting rooms at the moment are the one of parenting a newborn and the one of a different direction in life. I am remembering through experience, very well, the neediness of a newborn. It seems that the minute I put Mischa down, she cries- even when I swore she was fast asleep. It seems that five minutes after she empties my breasts of milk, she is needing another forty five minutes of feeding! The past few days, I have been looking forward to the months ahead, when she is more content watching her mobile, swinging in her swing or playing with a rattle. It's hard to have a person be that dependent on you. My other waiting room is the change of direction in life. My husband has received a calling from the Lord to be in full time pastoral ministry. We're not exactly sure what that means, where, or when- but the waiting room is knowing there is exciting change ahead, but being okay with the now. "The now" is Joey artificially inseminating cows, working long hours, holidays and every other weekend. It is hard to not complain about the now, when we know what's ahead. It's hard for me not to complain about Mischa needing me every minute of every hour when I know in a few months, she will be more independent. It's hard for me not to complain about Joey missing church every other week, when in the near future he will not only be at church every week, but it will part of his job.
Whatever waiting room you are faced with right now, God has a purpose for it. Although it's easy to complain and get frustrated or impatient because it feels like a long wait, or a hard one, God asks us to rejoice in all circumstances. I was reminded through Holly's sermon about the Israelites. When they were to enter the promised land in 14 days, because of their grumbling to God, it ended up being forty years! Their waiting room was a desert, and originally God planned for them to be in it for a short time, but because of their grumbling, it became a long time. I don't know about you, but I want God's plan and best for me. If God only plans for me to be in these waiting rooms a short while, I don't want to extend it because of my complaining. I was convicted listening to the sermon, because I tend to be a complainer. Complaining shows God that I am not okay with what He is doing in my life. And when I stop and think about it- putting my emotions about the specific circumstances at bay- I am very happy with what God is doing in my life. I am totally in love with my husband, who is an amazing, God-fearing man, I have 2 beautiful, healthy children, and I am in a place spiritually that I have never been in before- constantly learning, growing and being challenged. I love life. So why do I let one season of life get me so frustrated that I complain about it? We can get too excited about what God's going to do in and through us, that we lose sight of what He is doing in and through us now. Can you imagine the things we miss because we are too focused on the future? I am already planning and dreaming about things for the future with this new direction in mind, that I forget about the people, the ministry and the other God ordained things He has put in my life, RIGHT NOW! And if my past experiences would teach me anything to this stubborn and forgetful soul, I do remember my time being well wasted on the planning of future events- because what I think will be, won't be- because God's plans are much different than mine- and better!
One of the awesome points that Holly made was this: "What seems to be like a pointless or even painful waiting room, may be God's most productive workroom." How true is that! We often don't see it as a workroom till we are looking back and saying, "Aaaah, that's what God was doing then...." Let's embrace it now, so we can say, "Aaaah, I don't know exactly what He is doing, but I am going to be a vessel for His use now, and I am going to allow Him to work in and through me, so that I can be of good use later."
God doesn't put us in a waiting room to frustrate us, make us mad or even to desert us. There is a good and perfect reason for it. And throughout life, we will go in and out of waiting rooms that look different in each season of life. But take heart- there is a purpose, and you will come out of the waiting room stronger and more like Jesus, if you wait in it patiently, in praise, and with eyes open of opportunities around you- but not if you complain, lock yourself in your house, or get angry at God. You might just be in that waiting room forty years!
I want to close this with the example from Acts 16, that was used at Elevation Church, and that was of Paul and Silas in prison. Although Paul and Silas were not guilty of any crime, they were beaten and put into prison. While in prison, instead of complaining, they were praying and singing hymns to God. The author makes an important note that the other prisoners were listening to Paul and Silas praise God in their circumstance. Do we forget that even when we aren't "preaching Jesus" we are by our actions and words? The prisoners watched how they reacted to being in prison unjustly, and people around you are watching how you handle your crisis, your circumstances, even if they seem unfair. Are you complaining? Are you praising God through times of difficulty? Are you fearful? Are you confident in God's plan and provision? While Paul and Silas were in their waiting room- called prison, an earthquake shook the walls of the prison so greatly that their shackles came loose and the gates of the prison were flung open. Are you trying to escape your waiting room? Are you trying to get out before it's time? Even though the shackles came loose and Paul and Silas could have escaped prison, they stayed in- they knew that God had them there for a time, and it wasn't up yet. Because of the way they handled the situation, the jail guard came to know Jesus. If we are content with the season of life God has us in- painful, difficult, challenging- if we praise Him regardless, and trust in His plan- if we open our eyes to what and who are around us in the waiting room- if we allow God to make us vessels for honorable use- He will use us! The waiting room will become a workroom- and the waiting won't seem as much like waiting, when we enjoy the place God has us right now. If we stop focusing on the later, and embrace the now- it will be much more enjoyable, and maybe- just maybe, could we even love it? I am sure that Paul and Silas wouldn't say prison was fun, but Paul was more concerned about honoring God, rather than his escape from prison- and look what happened- the jailer came to know the Lord. God used Paul and Silas because they allowed God to use them, by being content in their circumstance and embracing it. What will God do in and through you if you do the same?
"Its how you respond in those waiting rooms that determines where you will go." ~Steven Furtick