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The Baptist Testimony
Volume 57 Number 2 March/April 2011
The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC Executive Director
Recently I had the “pleasure” of sitting in what was most appropriately labeled as a “waiting room.” I am sure that you, like me, do not find it to be the most enjoyable place to sit for any period of time. Especially if, like me, you are there simply to have blood drawn for routine tests and there are people sitting around you who are hacking, sniffing, and wheezing. I watched as a man honked out such a quick and loud sneeze that he barely got his hand to his face. He then used that same hand to open the same door that I had to enter a few minutes later! Joy! While sitting there in this wonderfully germ laden arena, I speculated how many days from then I would be back there because of what I was now inhaling!”
My “waiting exercise” involved going over the day’s schedule on my PDA, lamenting how many items were listed there that I could not accomplish because I had to wait. Poor me! The receptionist certainly didn’t seem to pick up the inconvenience her office and lab were causing me as she gruffly received my paperwork and callously told me to take a seat. Didn’t she realize the precious moments of time that were passing by while I waited?
Of course, by now you have probably assumed that some spiritual lesson came out of the moments I experienced that morning or I wouldn’t be sharing my confession in this column. Reflecting on that waiting room experience caused me to not only acknowledge what an annoyance waiting can be but also what an important part of life it is.
Consider the many times in the Bible that God’s servants are portrayed in waiting room scenarios. A prime example comes from the story found in Exodus 3 as God calls Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt’s bondage. As God sought to prepare Moses for this major task, the reality was that the wisdom of Egypt was not adequate to equip Moses to serve God. So God took Moses out of the limelight as the Prince of Egypt and plunged him into the solitude and obscurity of a desert waiting room for forty years. It was there that Moses met God personally and learned how to walk with Him.
You can trace a similar pattern throughout the Bible for most of God’s servants, such as, Joseph, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Nehemiah, John the Baptizer, Paul, and John the Apostle.
David often reflected upon his waiting room experiences as he penned thoughts that would be included in the Psalms. For example, Psalm 27:14 encourages us to “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Psalm 40:1 counsels, “I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.” Psalm 130:5 reminds God’s followers of the trustworthy value of His word, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.” Some of these you may have put to memory in order to spiritually “wait it out.”
Even Jesus spent the first 30 years of His earthly life in relative obscurity. The Gospel narratives jump quickly from much information about His birth and a couple of quick references to His pre-teen years to a detailed description of the last three and half years of His earthly ministry. And, as busy as that ministry was, you find Jesus spending many seasons going to a solitary place to pray. One of those solitary seasons even involved forty days and nights in a wilderness waiting room being tempted by Satan.
Now, let’s fast forward to our waiting room experiences. Occasionally it will appear as though we have been set aside. But properly used, God will take that “wait time” to equip us for the next level of ministry for which He is preparing us.
Christians often take solace from the words of the classic hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Quoting from Lamentations 3:22-23, the hymn rejoices through the words of Jeremiah the prophet: “Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
However, the statements that follow these familiar verses quoted in song from the Book of Lamentations are also significant: “‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’ The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:24-26)
Let me suggest some “waiting room” principles for those of us who are bent to live even the Christian life in the fast lane. First, no one is immune from having to “wait.” If Jesus had to wait should we expect to live any differently? Second, remember when you have to wait for what seems to be unreasonable amounts of time in God’s waiting room that without deserts, there are no deliverers. Every Biblical leader referenced earlier in this column earned a degree in “waiting” that qualified them to later become a deliverer. Third, waiting actually brings spiritual benefits to those who will do it with spiritual determination. Faithful followers of God are reminded by Isaiah the Prophet, “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)
Be faithful! Wait patiently! Be assured that God will bless you for submitting to the process!
You have His Word on it! (KEF)