The waiting place

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.  (Oh the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss)

Have you ever gotten stuck and sidelined in the waiting place?  Or have you ever felt confident of the direction you’re headed, only to have a door slammed in your face?  Have you ever brought plans before the Lord, covered them in prayer, considered the ramifications and results, become excited and ready to move forward, only to have them denied?

The waiting place and slammed doors are not easy things to experience.  From a purely academic perspective, I know those unfulfilled plans were not the ones intended for my family or I.  I know there is a purpose to being stuck in the waiting place.  But from a practical, live-it-out perspective, there has been definite sadness and disappointment today as my plans seemed to shatter, catapulting me right back into the waiting place.  And even beyond the frustration, there are so many unanswered questions about what’s next.  As I was reading Proverbs 16 today, verses 1 and 9 jumped out at me:

We can make our own plans,
but the Lord gives the right answer.
We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps.

Obviously the plans I had were not the same as God’s plans.  The answer I received today was the “right answer” from the Lord, even though it wasn’t my “preferred” answer.  Intermixed with the disappointment, however, is also relief and joy that my prayers were answered.  Ultimately my prayers were seeking His will more than my plans, and so I choose to be thankful for answered prayer.

But that doesn’t address the question of “what’s next”.  Where do we go from here?  What does the future hold?  What steps will God direct me in?  So many questions, and so few answers….

Well…perhaps there are a few answered questions about “what’s next”.  As Dory in Finding Nemo would say, I have to just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  And while I don’t know what is to come four months from now, I do know about tomorrow.  Here’s an important truth I was reminded of today: When you don’t know what to do, at least do what you know.  So while I feel like I’m stuck in the waiting place and I have more questions than answers about our future, I do know to do two things:

Seek Him – waiting on the Lord tends to result in great frustration, but it doesn’t have to.  Waiting can also initiate a tremendous time of growth.  In times of waiting, instead of worrying about what is to come, focus instead on God.  Read His word.  Seek His face.  Engage with Him in prayer.  Waiting doesn’t have to mean your faith stagnates.  Use the waiting time to draw close to Him.  Psalm 62:5-8 speaks beautifully to this:

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone. 
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in Him at all times.
Pour out your heart to Him,
for God is our refuge.

Be Faithful – While you are growing in the Lord, also spend your waiting time being faithful to what you have before you today.  As I scan my calendar over the next month, I see softball and t-ball games, serving opportunities at the Soup Kitchen, track meets, 3 summer classes at seminary, the final weeks of our homeschooling year, a visit from my parents, a Denominational Orientation Week, board training for the pregnancy center, weekly preaching at The Bridge, and an opportunity to preach at a church in Wyoming.  Regardless of what the future holds, I must be faithful to each of those things I see on my calendar.  Every one of those opportunities must be done with integrity and excellence in a way that highlights and points others to the Lord.  When I think about what I have immediately before me, I realize I don’t have much time to lament and be frustrated about a few slammed doors and unfulfilled plans.  I don’t even have time to hang out in the waiting place!

What about you?  Are you stuck in the waiting place, wondering about your future?  Have you recently had some doors slammed in your face, leaving you questioning “what’s next”?  How can you live out the truth that “When you don’t know what to do, at least do what you know”?  It can begin by seeking Him and being faithful.  What might that look like in your life?