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God Leads Us Into Waiting Rooms

  • Bob Reccord Guest Author
  • 2001 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
God Leads Us Into Waiting Rooms
Have you ever noticed that rooms speak for themselves? Walk into a freshly decorated nursery and the room speaks of joy and excitement. On a cold winter evening, enter a cozy den, with a large fire playing percussion in the fireplace and shadows dancing in syncopated rhythm on the walls and ceiling. The room invites you to sit down and succumb to its atmosphere. Or walk into a festive holiday dining room. Plates at each chair await a sumptuous feast. Friendly voices and warm laughter drift from down the hall. The room sings with the theme of celebration and reunion.

Other rooms aren't nearly as inviting - for example, waiting rooms. For all of us, life brings many experiences that develop into "waiting rooms." Maybe you're launching into a new arena of education. Or maybe you've completed your formal education and are waiting for employment. Maybe you are waiting to have children, or at the other end of the spectrum, maybe you are waiting for them to leave home. Maybe you're waiting for a long-anticipated trip.

It's impossible for a person not to be waiting for something. And waiting is never easy. I'm sure it's always been difficult, but I truly believe that our culture has made it even harder. We live in a society that has ready-made frozen dinners and instant potatoes. Our phones are touch-tone and mobile, so we can do two things at once. Our ovens are microwaves. Our information is generated on a computer screen at the touch of a keyboard. Our culture demands instant gratification and immediate success.

Yet all of us face times when God seems to hit the "pause" button in our lives and He invites - and sometimes forces - us to accept a posture of waiting. This is true for the biblical character Joseph. He lived in a "waiting room." Imprisoned on false charges, his deliverance didn't come quickly.

Joseph met the Pharaoh's chief baker and cupbearer in prison and interpreted their dreams. Joseph requested that when the cupbearer was released from jail, that he would speak to the Pharaoh on his behalf. But the cupbearer forgot his imprisoned friend and Joseph's life continued in a holding pattern for two years.

Then, suddenly, the holding pattern was interrupted. Pharaoh had a couple of dreams: seven sickly, skinny cows devoured by seven fat cows, then seven scorched and dry ears of grain swallowed by seven picture-perfect ears of grain. Suddenly the cupbearer remembered Joseph and told the Pharaoh about the young man in jail who had successfully deciphered his and the baker's dreams.

Joseph was immediately summoned and he rocketed from the pit to the pinnacle in one quick step. The time of waiting in the stone-cold dungeon had finally expired. He had been in Egypt for 13 years. His arduous ordeal had put him to the test and he had passed with flying colors.

Joseph's principles for coping with the rigors of waiting are still valid today.

1. Wait alertly. During waiting periods, we should be especially sensitive to God's intentions and actions. God often uses cool-downs and waiting rooms to prepare us for something we will encounter later in life. If we are docilely folding our hands and enduring these faith-stretching times, we are wasting valuable time. We either choose to draw close to the Lord or we drift from Him.

2. Wait expectantly. When circumstances require patient endurance, the Bible is the best source of encouragement and hope. From the examples recorded in His Word, we learn that waiting is part of His plan for preparing His people. When we are in the midst of waiting, we can honestly say, "I know that God has a reason for this and He will bring me through."

3. Wait quietly and patiently. Patience is a commodity in short supply. The word most often used in Scripture for patience is a word that means to "abide under." It means that we are unwilling to surrender and collapse under trying circumstances. Abiding under has an active quality in that it indicates pressing on and not giving in; it has a passive quality often referred to as endurance. Once we have done all we can, we must also trust God to accomplish His purposes.

4. Wait realistically. God is never in a hurry. He works from and toward eternity. He will take every bit of time needed to make a person the best he or she can be. Nothing that lasts happens quickly. God is not the author of shortcuts.

5. Wait cautiously. Our natural instinct is to complain when the delay lengthens. When we test God in our waiting we have the tendency to look toward Him as a last resort, rather than a first source. We can also veer toward deliverance by our own timetable and method rather than His. We also border on preferring not to have an answer if God's answer does not agree with ours.

In the midst of waiting, we are never without hope. If you are waiting for something right now, remember that nothing is impossible with God. If God has you in a time of waiting, be sure to wait effectively. But if the time of waiting is drawing to a conclusion, be sure you are not numbed into inactivity. Be willing to step out in the boldness of faith. Remember, life's cool-down periods and waiting rooms not only have entrance doors, but exit doors as well.

Excerpted from Forged by Fire: How God Shapes Those He Loves, copyright 2000 by Bob Reccord. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tenn., www.lifewaystores.com, 1-800-448-8032.

Bob Reccord serves as president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

What are you waiting for right now? Why is it hard to wait, and how are you trying to rely on God while you have to wait? How have you grown in the past during times of waiting? Visit Live It's forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.