The Waiting Room

As a mom I have developed a new fondness for the waiting room. My whole perspective has changed. I’ve come to look at these little treasures as a special place where I am not allowed to do anything—except for one of my favorite things. What? The doctor is running 45 minutes behind? Fantastic, I will just be sitting in this chair reading my book. Unbothered. Whatever responsibilities I need to attend will have to wait, because I have to wait--with a book. It’s like I’m being forced to do what I long for. There’s no guilt involved, no dirty dishes looming over me, no phone calls I need to make, no arguments to adjudicate…it’s very liberating to be in the waiting room. Unfortunately, I do not carry this same attitude of patience when God keeps me waiting. In these times I find myself a bit anxious. I wonder, what am I supposed to do while I am waiting? How long am I going to have to wait? Why do I have to wait? I become that pesky kid in the backseat repeating, “are we there yet?” Of course, despite my ignorance, God is purposeful in his insistence on waiting. He is preparing my mind and my heart, as well as his providential circumstances. Many times in the Bible, God makes his people wait. Often it is for a very long time. Did you know there was a waiting room in Scripture? Well, kind of anyway. We’ll use it for my little metaphor. I’m talking about the command Jesus gives his disciples right before his ascension. He tells them not to leave Jerusalem, but to stay there and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5). Thankfully, this won’t be an Abraham needing an heir kind of wait, or a Joseph pining for Rebekah kind of wait. Jesus assures them that this promise will come “not many days from now, ” which ends up being 10 days. So here they are, talking to Jesus Christ face to face, who has been resurrected from the dead. He is about to leave and gives them this command as their Lord to wait. Their reply…”are we there yet?” Well, not in those exact words, but basically they reveal just how clueless they still are about God’s kingdom (see Acts 1:6). They are still thinking way too narrow about God’s plans of salvation and the dimensions of his kingdom. Why does Christ make them wait? Obviously, they still weren’t “ripe,” as Calvin put it. He makes some other good points for being made to wait in his commentary. Making the apostles wait will sharpen their desire and better realize the greatness of the office they were assigned. Calvin points out that “we must work and rest at the Lord’s pleasure alone,” and that “we are made partakers of the gifts of God through hope” (39). In bidding us to wait, God is also encouraging us to persevere. After Jesus tells them to go back and wait, he is lifted up to heaven by a cloud. Can you imagine their faces? Think about the curious blend of bewilderment and excitement they must have been feeling. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Two angels basically show up and tell them to snap out of it, assuring them that Christ will return in the same way in which he left. So off to the waiting room they went. Imagine that two-mile walk back to Jerusalem. I think my first words would be something like, “What the?” They just witnessed something miraculous. What is going on? What is this power that we are about to receive? How are we going to be Christ’s witnesses? What does he mean by not many days from now? We don’t get the inside scoop on that conversation. But we do get the news that they obeyed. What did they do in the waiting room? They devoted themselves to prayer. They prayed expectantly, persistently, and of one mind. As a result of this, they were led to the business of finding a replacement for Judas. They waited well. I can apply this to situations in my life where the Lord doesn’t answer my prayers as soon as I want him to. Waiting is difficult, but it is not passive. It certainly isn’t wasted time either. I can wait with confidence that even though I may not be seeing any accomplishments, the Lord is producing exactly what he wants in his time. And I can know that it is good because he is good. But there is also a sense in which we are all waiting. We are all waiting for what the angels told the apostles was sure to happen, that Jesus Christ was going to return in the same manner in which he ascended. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21). On that day all his promises will be made good. How are we to wait? Eagerly. “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28b). Thankfully, we also have this gift of the Comforter as we eagerly wait for our bridegroom. He helps me in my prayers and is at the business of getting me ready for that day which no man knows the time. As I stumble about, trying to live the life God will have me to live in these last days, his Spirit is teaching me how to wait well.