I am writing from the WAITING room at the hospital. In the last few months I have logged quite a bit of time in WAITING rooms. Hospitals, doctor’s offices, Medicare benefit departments; all have their WAITING rooms where we go and...well, wait. If you are like me, waiting is not high on your list of favorite activities. To go and sit and twiddle my thumbs while someone I care about is poked or prodded or put through the wringer is less than an ideal way to spend a morning. I much prefer the DOING room, or the LET’S GET BUSY room, or the TAKE ACTION AND MAKE STUFF HAPPEN room. But like it or not, waiting is a big part of life. We wait for the bride to come down the aisle. We wait for the baby to be born. We wait for our kids to start school, to finish school, to pay for school. We wait to get in places and wait to get out of them. We wait for life to catch up with us and we wait to catch our breath when life flies by. We wait to live and in many ways, we wait for the day that life as we know it will end. WAIT.
So if we have to wait anyway what do we do while we wait? Actually waiting is not all that bad and there is some real benefit to slowing down a little, getting off the treadmill and out of the rat race, and just waiting. The prophet Isaiah said, “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) Then the songwriter added, “Teach me Lord. Teach me Lord to wait.”
Here are some things I am trying to learn to do while I wait. I am trying to learn to listen. It is amazing what you can hear when you just get quiet and listen. I hear the murmurs of despair from the little couple across the ER room from me. I hear the grumbling of dissatisfaction from the old man in the booth behind me at the restaurant. I hear the hushed giggling of the innocent children playing in the lobby of my office. And if I really listen, I hear the whispers of God reminding me that all of those people need Him.
Which leads me to another thing I do while I wait. I pray. I was on a bus many years ago travelling from Columbus, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a long story how I got there but just let me say you meet a whole new strata of people on a Greyhound bus at 2 am. A young mother was sitting somewhere behind me and I could sense her tension as she tried to keep her infant baby from screaming through the night. Something prompted me and I began to pray for her. Immediately the baby became quiet and I assume went to sleep. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the young mother put her head back with a relieved sigh and doze off herself. True story. In about an hour we came to her stop. She got off of the bus and as she passed me, turned and smiled at me. Praying helps.
Finally, while I wait I am trying to remember to talk. Now talking is not a problem for me but when I am wrapped up in my own frustrations and irritated at having to wait I usually forget about those around me. I am trying to respond to the voice of God that I hear as I wait and look for places to be an agent of His presence. I stop by the young couple and pat them on the shoulder and ask, “Can I pray for you?” I turn to the grumpy old man in the restaurant and find out how lonely he is when I ask, “How is your day?” I go out into the lobby where the kids are playing and sit down in the floor with them for a few minutes and tell them a story about Jesus. Talking while I wait, especially talking on behalf of our Savior, redeems the time and maybe makes a small difference in someone else’s life.
The Psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in Him.”(Psalm 40:1-3) What if His plan all along was to use you and to use me to ease the pain in others while they wait? I don’t know for sure but it just may be that this waiting room or this season of my life is exactly where God needed me to be. And it just may be that the most significant stuff in my life happens while I wait. John Lennon, that great theologian did get this part right when he sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy doing other things. So, listen to what God is saying. Pray for His direction. Speak out what He says to speak out. Just wait a minute….