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“God’s Waiting Room”
One of the hardest things we can do is wait. If there’s one thing we probably hate more than anything else, it is waiting.
We hate to wait for the traffic light to turn green especially when there is no one else on the road, or at least half mile away. We also hate waiting in a line, especially when the line next to us is moving faster, but when we move over it slows down and the line we were in is now the fastest.
Waiting is not our forte. We see this especially in our society where fast food, remote controls, and microwave ovens are the norm, the reality of life.
But it’s when we’re in pain that the waiting becomes intolerable, whether that pain is emotional or physical. That’s probably why we hate going to the doctor’s office, because once we check in we’re told to wait in the one place we hate to be, the waiting room.
I think it’s safe to say that “the waiting room” is one of the most dreaded places on planet earth. Here we are, in trouble and in pain, and we’re told to wait, and we know it’s going to be a pretty long wait, because anyplace that has couches, stacks of magazines, and a TV set turned to soap operas, we know we’re in for the long haul.
We don’t do well at waiting, which is often the case when it’s God we’re waiting upon.
What happens is that God gives us a promise, but when it doesn’t come to pass in our time frame, instead of waiting patiently, we try to speed up the process through our own manipulations. And when that fails to produce the desired results we then start the negotiation process.
“Lord, if you do this for me then I’ll go to church or read my Bible.”
Notice the vagueness of these promises we’re making. We leave out going to church every week, and reading the Bible every day. And the reason is because we’re holding that out till later on when further negotiations are needed.
And then we get to that age-old question, “If God could create in the world in six days, then why can’t He take care of our problems a whole lot sooner?” Why does God make us wait months if not years when He could do it immediately?”
The answer lies in that He is God and we’re not. If God is going to grow us into what He’s called us to be, then He has to heal us of the one thing we don’t want to be healed of, and that is our independence. To do this He places us in His waiting room to learn patience and receive the strength to face whatever lies ahead, which is something only He knows.
Throughout the Bible we see those who have great faith go through this very same process of getting the promise, trying to work out the promise in their own strength and ability, and then receiving the promises through waiting upon the Lord.
The Lord gave to Joseph dreams of greatness, but instead of holding them in his heart, he blabbed them to his family. In these dreams, his whole family would honor him by bowing before him.
Well this didn’t sit well with his family, especially his brothers. Seeing their chance to get rid of this dreamer and father’s little pet, they sold him to slave traders who were passing through.
Joseph ended up in Egypt as a slave, and then later as a prisoner. While he was a prisoner, the Lord gave Pharaoh a dream, and with his gift of interpretation Joseph correctly interpreted it. He then rose to the second highest position in Egypt, if not the world.
A famine came just as he predicted, which saw his brothers come to Egypt to buy food, all bowing before him. First dream fulfilled. Next Joseph had them bring their father and family to Egypt where they could live and escape the famine. Upon seeing Joseph, his father Jacob bowed before him, and the second dream became a reality.
Joseph waited, putting his complete trust in the Lord, and while things looked hopeless as a slave and prisoner, God’s promises were fulfilled.
Moses in like manner had to wait. Finding out his Jewish heritage while being raised as a son to Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses didn’t wait for God’s timing to deliver His people, so Moses took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian who had brutally beaten a fellow Jew.
But his crime was found out and fearing for his life he ran into the wilderness, to the country of Midian. There he married, watched over his father-in-law’s flocks, and raised a family for 40 years.
But when the time was right and his skill set as a shepherd fully honed, God called Moses out of the wilderness and back to Egypt to be His instrument to deliver the Jewish nation out of their captivity, and bring them into the Promised Land.
Moses had to wait, and in the waiting, he learned how to lead and manage sheep so that He would be the leader and shepherd of God’s flock.
Paul was a Pharisee who knew God’s law inside and out. Paul was also very zealous for what he thought was God’s will by putting into prison and to death those who were followers of Jesus.
But on his way to Damascus, Jesus, in a blinding light, met him and changed his life forever. In the process, Jesus gave Paul a vision of a man named Ananias, one of Jesus’ disciples, who would come and heal him.
Jesus told Ananias that Paul was a chosen vessel to share the gospel to the Gentiles, which Ananias probably relayed to Paul.
Immediately Paul started preaching Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues. This caused the Jews great distress and so they tried to kill him. Paul escaped and went to Arabia to hear directly from the Lord. After three years he went to Jerusalem to try again, but was met with adversity, and so they shipped him off to no man’s land, Tarsus, there to take up the trade of making tents while learning about God’s grace and mercy.
After waiting and biding his time, Barnabas came and brought Paul to Antioch where his ministry to the Gentiles began. But while waiting in both Arabia and Tarsus, God was grooming him to be his mouthpiece.
Each of these three and others tried to minister in their own way and in their own strength, but failed. But when they took time in God’s waiting room they were healed, refined, and refocused.
There is healing in God’s waiting room. Waiting renews our strength and faith. This is brought out beautifully through the prophet Isaiah.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)
Waiting is God’s way to refill our physical, emotional, and spiritual gas tanks with strength and faith to face the day and challenges that are before us.
Even if we only have enough strength to walk and no more, it will be enough, because God will give us the strength to endure. And if we have to expend our energy having to run this race called life, we will not grow weary, stumble, or fall.
But even beyond all that, when we wait upon the Lord, God will allow us to do things we never thought possible as we mount up on wings of eagles as God’s strength will carry us to new heights and possibilities.
Consider Abraham for a moment. Talk about renewed strength and faith. He’s 75 years old with no kids to carry on his legacy. Both he and Sarah, his wife, are well beyond the child reproduction age.
But God promises Abraham a son, and 25 years later Isaac was born. That’s what I call renewed strength. But even more, in the wait his faith was renewed.
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” (Romans 4:18-21 NKJV)
It is in God’s waiting room that the Lord brings His healing touch renewing our strength and faith, giving us strength and faith beyond ourselves, beyond our natural abilities knowing that all things are possible with God.
Precious metals like gold and silver are refined by heating them up, and the longer they remain in the fire, the more refined and pure they become.
This is what it means to wait. Waiting isn’t something that happens in our life when nothing is going on, usually it is during times of great trials and tribulation.
The Apostle Peter brings out this process in his first letter saying that while these trials may have been going on for some time, they have a purpose, and that is to refine our character.
“The genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7 NKJV)
One of character traits that is enhanced is patience. Thinking about this in relationship to a waiting room seems apropos. It’s in the doctor’s waiting room that we learn patience; because when we enter into a doctor’s office we become “patients.”
In Paul’s letter to the Roman church he talks about how our character is developed through patient perseverance in times of trouble and distress.
“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 NKJV)
In the same way, waiting through the difficult times refines us; it refines our character where we come out looking more like Jesus and less like ourselves. It is in God’s waiting room that our character is refined.
As mentioned earlier, when we feel like we’ve waited long enough, we tend to start scheming and manipulating trying to get our way, but God knows what’s best for our lives and His purpose will ultimately prevail.
This is brought out rather well by Solomon in Proverbs 19:21.
“There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 NKJV)
What happens in God’s waiting room is that the Lord gets us refocused on what is really important, and what’s most important is our relationship with Him.
Charles Stanley said, “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.”
And so, we need to get ourselves focused upon the Lord and less focused upon ourselves. We need to be less goal and material focused and more focused on God and His plans and purposes for our lives.
Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
If we are then to wait upon the Lord, how are we to go about doing it?
We have to trust someone, but the problem with trusting another human being is that they will eventually let us down, but not so God.
“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.” (Psalm 118:8 NIV)
Joseph trusted in the Lord, even though he went through hell, first being a slave and then a prisoner, but his trust in in the Lord never wavered, and it was rewarded. While in prison and as a slave it says that God showed Joseph mercy, and gave him favor, making whatever he did prosper, Genesis 39:21-23.
Moses also trusted the Lord, and even though the Lord withheld him from going into the Promise Land, through Moses the Lord gave to Joshua and the people this promise.
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV)
And Paul trusted God to give him the strength to carry on knowing that he could do all things through Christ who gave him the strength, Philippians 4:13.
While we are in God’s waiting room we need to trust that God knows what’s best and that He will not only give us the strength to handle what lies ahead, but that He will be with us all the way.
The one thing that many people miss in this waiting process is that the verb, “waiting,” isn’t passive. Instead waiting is an active verb, and just as we are to actively trust God and His timing, we are also to be serving Him while we’re waiting.
If we want to see what this waiting looks like as it regards serving, we need to go into the restaurant and look at those people who serve us the food. They are called “waiters.” They don’t wait for us to serve them; rather they serve us. They wait by serving.
We wait upon the Lord by serving Him by serving others in His name.
In the judgment to come Jesus tells us that it’s in our service to others that we will be blessed.
In Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus said, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
And they asked when did they do all these things, and Jesus said,
“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40 NKJV)
And so as we wait upon the Lord let’s get busy serving Him by serving others in His name.
God has given to us great and precious promises not only to live an abundant life here, but also eternal life in heaven with Him.
This is what we must always keep in the forefront of our thoughts, in that while we may spend considerable time in God’s waiting room, He is using that time to work His will and way into our lives and in the lives of others.
This is something we must believe with the whole of our hearts if we ever want to move beyond our present circumstances and into the promises of God.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV)
When we find ourselves in God’s waiting room, let’s not try to change lines or lanes, but rather let’s wait with patient endurance, knowing that God is healing, refining, and refocusing our lives.
So let’s trust God and trust the process and continue to believe while serving Him by serving others.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study