Sometimes a door slams shut, and I find myself standing outside in the cold, alone. I want so much to pound on that door, to beg and shout until it opens again. To take a crowbar and pry my way inside. To sit on the doorstep and refuse to leave until I have my way.
Sometimes it feels as if my “important work” for God has not yet begun.
My mind spins with the life stories of Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael, and George Müller—spreading the hope and love of Christ to unreached people groups, rescuing children from temple prostitution, sustaining an English orphanage on prayer.
Then there’s me, and sometimes all I can think is that I’m wasting away in the waiting room of life.
Inside Life’s Waiting Room
Nothing really happens in a waiting room. You flip through magazines or watch strange TV commercials. You keep glancing toward the doorway, wondering how long before the doctor will see you.
All you want is for the wait to end.
In the waiting room of life, it’s possible for what I know to be true of God to get blurred and warped by what I feel and what I see around me. I begin to conclude things about God’s character based on my circumstances—when I should be concluding things about my circumstances based on God’s character.
- I know He has not forgotten me (Deut. 31:6).
- I know He has a purpose for each new day (Prov. 16:4; Eph. 2:10).
- I know He is wiser than I am (Dan. 2:21; Job 12:13–14; Prov. 21:30).
- I know He is trustworthy and good (Ps. 62:8, 103).
But I find myself glancing toward the doorway, wondering when He will see me. Asking myself if He really does remember that I want to use my whole life to praise Him. Begging Him to let me do something for Him other than sit here swinging my legs and hoping the wait will end soon.
Our waiting room illustration can only go so far before it sort of crumbles though, because waiting seasons are not wasted seasons.
To the one weary because another door has slammed shut; to the one waiting, waiting, waiting and watching faith fade; to the one wondering what God has called you to do:
Know that God is at work to produce something that matters during your waiting season.
Sometimes God keeps us in the waiting room because the work He’s doing is on our own hearts. In this itchy, uncomfortable place, spiritual growth is cultivated. Dependence is molded. Trust deepens. We may feel like nothing is happening, but God is busy refining us as He teaches us to wait.
But they who wait for 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 (Isa. 40:31).
This verse was once a source of great frustration to me. Exasperated, I thought, I’m asking You for strength, and You’re telling me to sit here and wait?
What I did not understand is that to wait is not tapping your shoe against the tile and checking the overhead clock every fifteen seconds.
The command to wait means to look eagerly for something. In this context, Israel was looking forward to God’s promise of freedom from their bondage to Babylon.
In our case, it may be looking forward to the fruit He’s busy producing in our hearts:
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
“Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. . . . By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:2, 8).
Rather than resenting the walls around us and trying to break down the door to the next room, maybe we ought to stop and study our waiting rooms a little more closely, looking for the lessons the waiting room is meant to teach us.
Lessons in the Waiting Room
In my own season of waiting, God has been unveiling these priceless truths:
1. Obedience belongs to me, and results belong to God.
Seeing God work is incredible, but sometimes we don’t get to see results at all. Instead, we simply have to continue in faithful obedience, trusting that God is doing something.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going (Heb. 11:8).
Abraham waited twenty-five years to see the fulfillment of God’s promise. Imagine how hard that must have been. Abraham didn’t know God’s timetable. Abraham didn’t even get to see the completion of all God’s promises to him in this life. Yet in Hebrews 11:8, Abraham is honored for is his obedience. Abraham was waiting—looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. You see. . .
- Abraham didn’t live to see the day his descendants became more in number than the stars in the night sky (Gen. 26:4).
- Job did not see the victory God received from his faithfulness in spite of the pain Satan subjected him to.
- Moses did not see the Promised Land. Ruth did not know that Christ would be included in her lineage.
If we’re looking at results, waiting rooms can quickly become spiritual valleys or wildernesses. But if our gaze is fixed on pursuing and obeying Christ, we can trust God with the results of our obedience.
2. There’s hope in the humdrum.
I don’t know what your everyday routine looks like. Maybe you pass the same green trash can each morning on your way to class. Maybe you serve the same middle-aged woman a caramel latte every Thursday. Maybe you clear the same white china plates from tables every night near the end of your shift. Maybe you flop onto the same rumpled bed every weeknight to wade through notes, papers, and projects.
Whatever shape your humdrum, on-repeat schedule takes, God has infused it with eternal significance—and we’ll see it if we’re looking for it.
In your everyday life . . .
There are always people to reach. They are messy, flawed, precious people exactly like us.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42).
And of some have compassion, making a difference (Jude 22, KJV).
Even the smallest act of loving service is noticed and rewarded by God. When we step forward to serve or to fill the needs of others, God sees.
And in your everyday life . . .
There is always work to do.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going (Eccl. 9:10).
Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16).
If God commands us to wholeheartedly make good use of every bit of time He has given us, we can be certain that He’s not wasting our time in a waiting season. He is exploding our lives with opportunities to do good, to praise Him even in the midst of our waiting.
God hasn’t confined you to an aimless sitting session. If you find yourself seated in another waiting room, recognize you’ve been given a gift to steward.
Let God grow you through this waiting, looking forward to what He is doing just out of your line of sight (Heb. 11:27).
- What season of waiting does God have you in today?
- What lessons has God been teaching you as you wait?
Tell me all about it in the comment section below.