A waiting room is a strange place. Sometimes it is filled with lots of people all waiting to find out the outcome to their predicament and other times you are alone and the waiting seems to take forever. We have all spent time in one at some point in our lives. For some it feels like we spend our lives in a waiting room. For others we find ourselves in a waiting room at certain points for different reasons. For others we may pass through them from time to time and it’s not usually pleasant but it doesn’t last long. However you see the waiting room when you are in it, it is very hard to look beyond the thing that you are waiting for. You might be able to distract yourself momentarily with a magazine or a game on your phone but it is momentary: ultimately you are there for a reason and you want to leave the waiting room to find the outcome of your visit. God is in the waiting room with you. It may not always feel like He is but He is.
You may feel that you spend your life in the hypothetical waiting room. It may feel like others join you but they get to go in first. You may have seen that happen time and again. People walk in, and walk out with a smile on the face having received good news. You may feel as a result you have been overlooked and so you go to the desk and say, “Have I been forgotten?” And they says, “No we are running on time. Please take a seat!” you may have asked God and had no response. So you wait… and…wait and you reside yourself to the fact that you are stuck in the waiting room and it may feel like life is passing you by.
For others you may find yourself unexpectedly in the waiting room. You never thought you would be sitting there at this time. You thought you would nip in and out with the outcome that you wanted and now you are forced to wait and it’s not fair and it feels lonely. It might be life changing and the waiting room is not where you want to be.
You might be someone who is comfortable with waiting rooms. You find it easy to chat with people and are happy to smile while you wait. The waiting room has never been anything more than somewhere you go every so often because you have to but it is usually quick and painless. It is inconvenient but that’s all it is.
Which ever of these images suits you best, and maybe it is more than one, the waiting room can feel like a place where you wouldn’t choose to be. You may feel like your place is found in the waiting room because that’s all you know. It will not remain there. You were not born to sit still, watching people go in and out before you. Sometimes we can choose to leave our waiting room. We may have gone there because we thought that was where we thought we should go but the waiting has actually led us to the conclusion that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time so we can choose to change our circumstance and get up and leave.
The Bible says that patience produces perseverance. These two attributes are the fruit of the waiting room. We don’t wait so that God can teach us these things, we wait and these are the fruits that God brings. He will enlarge us in the waiting room if we let Him. At the start of the year Pastor Duane White from Texas came to speak to our church. He said, “There is opportunity in your inconvenience”. There is opportunity in the waiting room to chat with others, to lift someone’s head and to let faith arise. I was stirred to look for opportunities that could come out of my situation: my waiting room. I looked for fruit and I found it. God gave me ‘beauty for ashes’. Inconvenience is inconvenient. We don’t want it but it will remain in our lives so we have to choose to look for opportunity in it. We persevere. We learn patience and God makes us beautiful. We must also remember that waiting is temporary. It will not last forever.
Someone very close to me recently found herself unexpectedly in the waiting room. Her journey was hard and very painful and the actual hospital waiting room that she found herself in was cold, bare and lacking anything that would bring hope. She decided that she would invest some time into planning how to change that room, and make it warmer and hopeful and take the presence of God into that room. She did not want anyone else to have to sit in there while their world was falling apart surrounded by emptiness. She wanted a sense of hope in that room. She chose to bring something beautiful out of her ‘waiting room’ experience and I believe that in other people’s sad times that room will be a place where God can bring hope again. She handled her waiting room with grace and insisted that good would come from it and it will.
The devil will tell you that God wants you in the waiting room, that it is His will that you remain there until you have learnt your lesson. It isn’t true. God can teach you in the waiting room but He has not put you there to punish you. Throughout the waiting I found it hard to pray “Your will be done” because I thought it meant that I wouldn’t be given what I was waiting for, that I was accepting the punishment that I deserved in some strange way but that wasn’t the case at all. I was scared, but I felt that when I let go and started to pray “Your will be done” God reminded me of the rest of the sentence. “Your will be done ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN”. When we pray ‘Your will be done” we are saying, “God bring Heaven to earth” or “God invade earth with Heaven”. Revelation 21:4 says”
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Sad news is not given in Heaven. People are not lonely in Heaven. We don’t need to cry in Heaven. Heaven is not the waiting room; it’s the real thing. When we pray “Your will be done” it is good. We all want Heaven to come to earth and we see glimmers of it even in the waiting room. I want to do what I can to usher Heaven down to earth, and so I shout without fear but with confidence “Your will be done!”
This verse says that ‘the old order has passed away’. At the moment we live in the old order of things, we experience glimpses of Heaven here on earth, but we live in a fallen world. Things go wrong. They don’t always follow the order of Heaven. Too many of us spend time in waiting rooms, we waste time worrying and tears can become a normal part of the waiting room but they are temporary. Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”.
Maybe, instead of asking ourselves how long must I be here, we should be asking ourselves the question, how will I behave while I am here? How we behave in those times will determine our future. God feels silent sometimes. But He is there. If He hasn’t spoken to you recently think about what He said to you last time and keep doing what you are doing. When we seek out opportunity in our inconvenience we look for ways to bring glimpses of Heaven to earth.
We have to trust God’s perfect timing. This is not a cliché. It is not something that I say lightly because waiting is hard, but it is true. God knows what He is doing even we don’t. He is on time. Please don’t try to take things into your own hands, tempting as it is, and make things happen, God opens doors, He knows. Habakkuk 2:3 says this: ‘There is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and it does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.’
If God appoints something over your life it will happen, even if it looks like it won’t, it will! And we must keep focused on God’s promises over our lives. Does our vision or dream remain clear or have we let it go because waiting was too hard?
Look for opportunity in the waiting room. What can you do for others in this time? What have you learnt that you can pass on? What does God want to do with you? Will you let Him shape you? Will you trust his timing? Somewhere, something is waiting to be known and it is in our hands to find it. Don’t miss the opportunities because of impatience and heartache but make the most of them. We are clay in God’s hands, look for beauty in the molding and ask yourself this question: Who is God making me into? You can be sure the waiting is not in vain. He will give you beauty for ashes and He will work everything for good.