Do you enjoy being in the “Waiting Room”? In using the term “Waiting Room,” I’m not referring necessarily to an actual room. The “Waiting Room” can be a physical place or it might just be a frame of mind. It’s rarely an enjoyable room. During this past year, providence has required my family to wait on the test results for cancer in the lives of five of our loved ones.
You have undoubtedly had a similar experience in your own life – it may have been a life-threatening illness, a surgery, or even the delivery of a baby. All of these force us to accept that we are not in control of many situations, but must wait for the unknown to be revealed after a period of time.
Waiting is not something that God is indifferent toward. In fact, waiting, or the passage of time without knowing the end result, is something that God has ordained for the good of His people and can be found in the Bible for our instruction in numerous places. Consider these times of waiting and note the pattern:
The time that Joseph was sold into slavery and lived in Egypt for many years before being reunited with his family. Was God not working in the mind and heart of Joseph for that day when Joseph would declare, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today?” (Genesis 50:20)
The years that the Israelites were in bondage and suffered through cruel labor. Was not God multiplying them and making them exceedingly strong? And was God not preparing Moses and others as a prelude to the Exodus? (Exodus 1:7; 2:23)
Then there are the Psalms where we see the heart wrenching prayers of great saints like David waiting on the Lord for security or comfort – “I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” (Psalm 69:1-3)
In the gospels, we find that Jesus actually restrains people from telling others who He is because it is not the time. I have often wondered why Jesus Himself had to wait until He was 33 years old before going to the cross. Why didn’t the Father call Jesus to complete His work here on earth several years earlier?
In Acts and the Epistles, there was the waiting for the Holy Spirit to come at Pentecost, Paul waiting in Damascus for Ananias, Paul waiting for a door to be opened to preach the gospel, and the waiting that we are all doing in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Surely, the Lord has His perfect purpose in making us wait. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
God uses waiting to humble us, to reveal the idols of our heart, to create dependence on Him alone, to learn to persevere, to grow our trust and faith, and see Him as glorious. He knows our frame and knows just why we need to be in the “Waiting Room” and how long we must stay there so He can lovingly conform us to the image of His Son.
But although we can intellectually know that God has purpose when we are in the “Waiting Room,” we often find our emotions leading us to doubt God. When doing so, we must ask ourselves the question, “So, which attribute of God are we calling into question? Are we frustrated or discouraged because we are doubting His omniscience, or His love for us, or His power, or His timing, or is it all of the above?” Does the Potter need to get counsel from the clay? Surely, these questions should cause us to place our hands over our mouths!
The Building Faith Team has been learning a lot about waiting, and maybe you have, too. There has been a great deal of waiting during these past couple of years, but the Lord has been gracious to show us some of the reasons for the wait.
Going back several years ago, we worked while waiting to figure out how FCC could build at the Arnold Mill location. A great deal of time was spent chasing down possible land opportunities only to end at one roadblock after another. We might have succumbed to the pressure of buying something that really wasn’t the right fit. But by God’s grace, we waited. That time in the “Waiting Room” ended when God gave us the opportunity to purchase the land near the mall at a phenomenal price.
In early 2017, it became apparent that FCC’s leadership was not properly aligned, so we went through a painful time, and had to go back into the “Waiting Room” before we could move forward. However, the Lord made clear that this time was necessary before the church could unify and move forward in the building process.
In late 2017, we received what appeared to be a great opportunity to save money on the project by partnering with the Outlet Mall developer on a portion of the church parking. Working through the negotiations placed us back in the “Waiting Room” again. Eventually, the deal fell apart and we soon learned afterward that the Lord had something better for His church. This came through an annexation agreement with the City of Woodstock (please see article on annexation).
These “see with your eyes” changes are easy to believe and be encouraged by, but what about the more important things to the Lord – the heart? God uses waiting to humble us, to reveal the idols of our heart, to create dependence on Him alone, to learn to persevere, to grow our trust and faith, and see Him as glorious. He knows our frame and knows just why we need to be in the “Waiting Room” and how long we must stay there so He can lovingly conform us to the image of His Son.
Therefore, the “Waiting Room” is always good! It is the Lord Who really does direct our steps through the waiting. And when we learn how to wait patiently, we will find true joy in Him.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
~ Psalm 40:1-3