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Quick—yell “Me me me!” if you just LOVE to wait.
Yep. Let’s be honest. No one enjoys waiting.
Think about it. We get impatient at red lights. In line at Starbucks. Even standing in front of the microwave.
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And we especially get impatient in waiting rooms.
There’s nothing to teach someone patience like taking their child to the pediatrician. I remember bemoaning why on earth we even bothered making an appointment in the first place, because you inevitably were going to wait at least an hour regardless what time you arrived. Early, late, on time—it all seemed to deliver the same effect.
Sort of like when you were pregnant with said child, and had to endure all the doctor visits to the OBGYN over the course of nine months. I remember sitting in the hardback chair in the waiting room, nervously flipping the pages of parenting magazines, barely able to focus on the glossy pages advertising happy families because I was so obsessed.
Not over the TV blaring a talk show rerun. Not over the other patients. Not over the fact that was on my way to becoming a mother.
I was obsessed with the waiting room. Obsessed with the clock. Obsessed with the helplessness of knowing I had to stay there no matter how long it took. I felt trapped. Stuck. Suffocated.
I just wanted to go to Starbucks and pretend like the stork was going to bring my baby, all easy-peasy, from the sky.
Life isn’t easy-peasy. And our spiritual waiting rooms are, just like in real life, for a purpose. Without the waiting room element of a doctor’s office, everything would be in chaos. There would be no order, no schedule, no structure. Patients would get mixed up and rooms would get double booked. Charts would get crossed. Medicines or prescriptions wrongly distributed.
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It’d be a disaster.
So would our hearts if we were left to our own timetable.
One significant difference in a physical waiting room and a spiritual waiting room is that God’s timing is always perfect. Unlike a doctor, who often (regularly, even) gets called away for emergencies and throws off his schedule, God never falters. He never has to resort to Plan B or rescheduling. He never overbooks His patients. His plans and His timing for us are 100% on target, from beginning to end.
It’s hard to sit and wait, especially when you start to feel like you’ve been sitting there forever and your name will never be called. That you’re going to rot in that plaid-coated chair for the rest of your days and turn into a pile of dust and ash before they ever decide to pull your chart and make it your turn.
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But God hasn’t forgotten you. He sees you right there in that uncomfortable chair, shifting your weight and tapping your feet and peering anxiously at your watch for the tenth time. He sees every bit of it, knows every concern in your head and fear in your heart. It’s His job to mind the clock, and keep you on schedule.
It’s your job not to be stupid in the waiting room.
You’ve seen those folks before. The ones who let their kids literally run around, shrieking at the top of their lungs, throwing the community toys around the room or fighting repeatedly over books. The folks who talk loudly on their cell phones about their personal problems as if they’re the only ones in the entire clinic. The folks who gripe and complain in a raised tone about everything wrong with the office and all they would do differently and better if they were only in charge. The ones who bring enough snacks and supplies for a small army, and strew their belongings over four different chairs.
Then the nurse calls their name, and it’s a sudden effort to gather themselves, their belongings and their wits, and walk through the door.
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I don’t want God to see me that way.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be stupid in the waiting room. I don’t want to moan and complain, fight and destroy, run and yell. I don’t want to make bad decisions that will stick with me long after I go home.
No, I want to be patient. Compassionate to others waiting around me. Packed up and ready to go when it’s my turn. I definitely don’t want to be the reason I have to wait any longer!
In the waiting rooms of our lives, it’s easy to get distracted. Settle in, camp out, get too comfortable, and forget that there is a reason why we’re there. It’s also easy on the other extreme to sit miserable and stiff, tense and on edge, missing all the opportunities we have to be an encouragement to someone around us. To multi-task well and make progress on a project while we wait. To learn lessons to take with us.
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I want to use my time in the waiting room wisely, rather than being an example of what not to do. I want to make God proud of me, so that when my name is finally called and it’s my turn to move out of my uncomfortable situation, I’m not only ready to go, I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about when I do.
Just like how a mother expecting their second or third child is more at ease, confident, and knows what to expect in the doctor’s waiting room, so are we as believers who remember our past times in spiritual waiting rooms. By remembering God’s faithfulness to us in the past, we can look forward with confidence to the future.
Sure, it’s still uncomfortable. Still frustrating. Still means we’re going to get poked and prodded more than we’d prefer.
But it’s not as scary because we know what to expect. And as Christians, we can embrace the truth of God’s promises, cling to what He’s done for us before, and trust that His plans for our future are good. Because we have been there and come out the other side, we can reassure those around us that their time will come, too.
Waiting is never easy.
But it’s also never wasted if we remember that we are there for a purpose. Not forsaken. Not forgotten.
You won’t wait forever.
But you do have to decide—what will you be doing when your name is called?
Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her fireman hubby and adorable preschooler. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, released 2012 through Barbour Publishers. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her young daughter, Betsy enjoys sharing the good news of God's grace through inspirational speaking and teaching. You can read more about Betsy at www.bestystamant.com.