My husband, Clif, had surgery this past week to repair a torn tendon in his shoulder. The doctor scheduled us to to be at the surgery center by 11am with the expectation that the procedure would be completed and Clif would discharged by 5:00. I was also instructed to stay on premises for the entire process. Six hours is a long time in a waiting room, so I showed up fully prepared. I took my laptop and five assignments that needed attention, notes for an upcoming Bible study, school assignments that needed to be graded, a link to an hour long instructional video that I’ve been meaning to watch, a Tom Clancy novel, a couple of snacks, and two unfinished knitting projects. Realistically, I had enough to keep me busy for about 2 days!
After they took Clif back to prep him for surgery, I pulled out my computer and got to work trying to accomplish as much as I could with the time I had. Before I knew it, one o’clock arrived. I took a break to dash out to Subway for a quick bite, and I was back at it by 2. The next time I looked up, the surgeon was sitting across from me ready to show me pictures and explain what he had done. At the end of the conversation, he informed me that Clif was in the recovery room and most likely would be ready to go home at the scheduled time. I took a quick look at the clock and made a note that I had only one more hour until it was time to leave. “Just enough time to finish the project that was open on my computer screen,” I told myself. Forty minutes later, I wrapped it up and decide to pack up my belongings so I’d be ready to go when he was released.
15 minutes passed.
More waiting… and I was getting antsy.
I still had my knitting or my novel to read, but by this time, I was too anxious to do anything.
Finally, a nurse came to inform me that Clif was awake, but not fully alert yet and that it would be just a little while longer until he was ready to leave.
Well… he wasn’t ready, but I certainly was.
As I sat those last few minutes in that now incredibly uncomfortable chair, it occurred to me that this experience was a small-scale version of what happens when we have to wait on the Lord.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
Probably one of the most difficult commands we get from God is that dreaded four letter word, W. A. I. T. Most of the time we have our plan mapped out and want to ‘get on with the program,’ but the Lord frequently says ‘Sit tight, and be still.’ Once we come to terms with the idea of putting our plans on hold, the tendency is to turn over a mental hourglass and settle into any number of activities to pass the time till God moves. But, once the amount of time we think is reasonable has expired, then a general uneasiness sets in. As days and weeks stretch into months and years, the temptation to ignore or doubt God’s instructions intensifies. If we choose to move ahead without waiting, we end up making the same mistake as King Saul did in 1 Samuel 13:7-15. With a threatening battle heating and his men deserting him, Saul waited as long as he thought was reasonably possible, then took matters into his own hands and made an infamous decision that began his ultimate downfall.
I can’t help but wonder if David remembered what happened to his predecessor when he wrote Psalm 27. In those moments when we’re tempted to make rash moves, his words encourage us to be resolute and fortify our unsure hearts with courage. I know, it seems a little weird to think about needing strength to ‘not do anything,’ but being told to wait touches one of our most basic fears.
Before I tell you what that fear is, think about it a little for yourself. What is it you don’t like about waiting?
Isn’t it that waiting puts someone else in control? The policeman limits your options when he gives the other lane of traffic preference. The cashier dominates your time when she takes way too long to check people out. For me last week, the nurses detained me in that waiting room when I wanted to go home. Spiritually, when God says “Wait”, it puts Him in control, not us. And that’s the reason we need courage and strength. It’s fearful to have to fully trust your future to someone other than yourself, even if that Someone is God. See, at its core, waiting is not really about the thing we’re waiting for. It’s really about our willingness to yield to the Lord. It’s a good old-fashioned test of faith.
Will we trust Him when we want to trust ourselves more?
Can we be certain that He will come through even though our preset deadline has long passed?
Will we really believe that He’s orchestrating the best possible plan for us and that He’s reliable to do the things He’s promised?
So when you’ve been put on pause, put away your personal timetables. Instead begin to pray for the strength and courage you will need to trust the Lord
… and wait.