God’s Waiting Room: My New Home?

Is there anyone else out there who feels as if you’ve been sitting in God’s waiting room for so long that it’s beginning to feel like home?  For months you’ve been camping out there, thinking “surely this is only temporary!”  OK, so you’ve brought in the coffee pot and a few beloved books.   But now, let’s face it:  You may as well move in all the furniture.  Looks like you’ll be here a while.

That’s how I feel on this February day.  2013 has gotten off to a rough start in a lot of ways.  But the house . . . It’s been on the market over ten months now.  Approximately 75 showings.  It sold.  And then it unsold (due to buyers’ personal circumstances).  And now the clock is ticking toward the closing on our next home.  And we are still waiting.  And praying.  And praying.  And praying.  And praying.

I think a lot about God’s sovereignty in the waiting room.  I feel like those three young men faced with the fiery furnace in Daniel. They knew what God could do. But they didn’t know what God would do. Either way, He was still God. Either way, they would still worship Him.  And only Him.

As I sit here on my bench in the waiting room, God keeps reminding me of words from Andrew Murray which seem to have been written directly to me:

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here.  It is by His will that I am in this place; in that I will rest.”  Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.”  Then say, “He will make this trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He intends to bestow. “  And last, say, “In His good time, He can bring me out again.  How and when, He knows.”  Therefore, say: “I am here  1) by God’s appointment,  2) in His keeping,  3) under His training,  4) for His time.”

—Andrew Murray, quoted in Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow, p. 171

Hmm.  God’s appointment.  His training.  His timing.  And words about grace: He will “give me grace in this trial to behave as His child . . . working in me the grace He intends to bestow.”  How should His child act in this trial?  What does “grace bestowed” look like?  Well for starters, not the way I often act: anxious, fearful, pacing, worrying myself and everyone around me to distraction.

So here I am, still in the Waiting Room. Under His training. I have a lot left to learn. But I want to share with you just a few tips I’m learning in my prolonged sit-in. Call it “Things To Do While Waiting”:

  1. Cry when you need to.  God hears our cries.
  2. Vent when you need to.  That’s what friends (and husbands) are for.
  3. Read the Psalms.  A lot.  Almost any will do, but good starters are Psalms 42-43, 46, 37, and 34.
  4. Whine as little as possible.  I should say, “Don’t whine.”  But I’m just being realistic.
  5. Follow Oswald Chambers’ advice and “Do the next thing”—whatever that may be.
  6. Try living Philippians 4:6-7, turning your worries into prayers.
  7. Remember that you are not alone.  God sits with you in the Waiting Room.
  8. Remember that, despite what may seem evidence to the contrary, God is good—all the time.  And loving—all the time.  And sovereign—all the time.
  9. Keep praying.  Keep talking to God, even if your voice is barely a whisper.
  10. Ask Him to help you with trust, which is the bottom line.  “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  Help me, Lord, to learn to trust you more.

This is definitely not a finished list, but just some thoughts from my bench in the Waiting Room.  I pray that one or two might help someone else out there in another Waiting Room.

Advent in I-Don’t-Know-Ville

It occurred to me recently that the answer to almost every question in my life right now is: “I don’t know.”   With Woody’s recent retirement, we have made plans to move “back home” to New England.  We are in the process of purchasing a condo under construction in the Boston area.

But from there on it’s all questions.  When will we move? I don’t know.  It depends on selling our current home.  When will the house sell?  I don’t know.  What will it be like to move “back home”?  Is it even possible to do that?  Or was novelist Thomas Wolfe right when he famously proclaimed “You Can’t Go Home Again”?  I don’t know.  What about that biopsy you’ve been putting off?  When will you get that done?  I don’t know.  It depends on getting a major insurance mess straightened out.  How long will that take?   I don’t know.  And what about the results…?  Well, you’re getting the picture.

I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one living in I-don’t-know-ville.   Tons of people I know and love are living there, too.  Will the never-ending international adoption saga never end?  When will we meet these children?  WILL we ever meet these children?  When will my prodigal come home?  WILL he/she come home?  Will this court case ever get resolved and justice—and mercy—prevail?  Will the doctors ever figure out what’s wrong?  Will the money last till the end of the month?  To name just a few questions in my prayers for those I love.

It seems to be an Advent season of I-don’t–know.  Which brings to mind the fact that there were a lot of I-don’t-know people at that first Christmas.   Joseph and Mary must have had plenty of unanswered questions on that road to Bethlehem.   And when they had to flee to Egypt.  And a thousand other times in the parenting of Jesus.  What was God up to in allowing life for His son to look like this?  And the shepherds and the wisemen: What does this amazing birth mean?  And Simeon and Anna in the years they waited to meet Him: “How long, O Lord, how long?”

But they did know one thing, and it’s the central truth of Christmas: God is now with us!  “And they will call Him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.”  (Matthew 1:23)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like living in I-don’t-know-ville.  It makes me nervous.  I am, after all, half-German, firstborn, and off the charts on the Myers Briggs J-scale.   I like answers better than questions.  But maybe there’s something to be learned here from those first Christmas people.  And more importantly, from the God who invaded their world.

Amidst all the unanswered questions of our lives, there is one Big Answer.  What we don’t know, He does.  What we can’t control, He can.  Wherever our future takes us, He is there already.   It’s something BIG to celebrate in Advent.  A cause for great joy—yes, Joy!  Even in this Advent season of I-don’t-know.

Waiting, Preparing, and Lighting Candles Wherever You Are

Waiting, Preparing, and Lighting Candles Wherever You Are

“Light your candles quietly, such candles as you possess, wherever you are.”

These words were written from a small cell in a Nazi prison camp by Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest who would shortly thereafter be hanged as a traitor for his opposition to Hitler. I recently came across this quote in a book of Advent readings and I asked myself: If Alfred Delp could write about “The Shaking Reality of Advent” in such a time from such a place, what about us, this December 2009, here in America?

I feel very pensive about Advent this year. I think it is partially because Advent is a season of waiting, of preparation, and of lighting of candles. It is a time when we prepare to celebrate The Arrival. The Arrival of a baby whose birth changed everything. Absolutely everything. Everywhere. Forever. Even in a Nazi prison cell. Or in Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Or an economic downturn in the USA. A Very Big Arrival.

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