While You Were Waiting...

I’ve read it a hundred times. OK maybe not a hundred, but a lot.

The Book of Acts, one of my favorite books in the Bible, full of drama, history, theology.

Chapter 17, one of my favorite chapters, where Paul delivers a powerful message in Athens.

Our adult Sunday School class is studying it. Paul fled to Athens because those Thessalonian rabble-rousers started to agitate the Bereans. Silas and Timothy stayed behind in Berea until Paul’s other travelmates came back for them.

And there it was:
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. Acts 17:16-17

While Paul was waiting…. The 4 little words screamed for my attention.

How many times had I read the inspired sermon that follows these verses and missed the fact that Paul was alone as he wandered around the city, waiting for his fellow workers to join him to begin ministry in this new locale.

“God’s Waiting Room.” I’ve heard the term, even said the term myself. It’s that period of time spent waiting for our life to begin anew.

“When this happens, then I will…”
“When I get a job, get married, have a baby, then I will …”
“When the chemo is over, then I will…”
“When I discover my gifts, then I will…”

Years ago, I heard Elisabeth Elliot share, “We should wait on the Lord the way a waiter waits on tables.” How does a waiter wait? Serving. How may I help you? What can I do for you?

That’s what Paul did. “Paul was waiting . . . So he …” He was distressed with what he saw (idols everywhere) and “so he reasoned with” whoever was around. He didn’t lament that his companions weren’t with him. He didn’t wait until his team was in place. He saw and he served right where he was.

In my husband’s chiropractic office, we have what some call a Waiting Room. We don’t; we call it a Reception Area. There’s a tv monitor that has streams facts about our amazing bodies. The reading materials are about health or about the Lord. Our intention in that room is that while the patients are waiting, they are being prepared to meet the doctor or meet their Maker (not in the fatal sense of the phrase!)

The “waiting room” can be a place of worry or anxiety, a place of uncertainty not knowing what the future holds. It can be a place of preparation for that future. Or like Paul, it can be a place to (cliché alert) “bloom where you’re planted.”

In the allegory book, Hinds Feet On High Places, the character Much-Afraid is on a journey to her Shepherd. At a lonely severe rugged spot, she meets a tiny flower nestled among the rocks. It’s name: Acceptance-With-Joy. The Shepherd later tells her, “When you wear the weed of impatience in your heart instead of the flower Acceptance-With-Joy, you will always find your enemies get an advantage over you.” Her enemies are our enemies: Resentment, Craven Fear, Bitterness, Pride.

On Sunday, our dear friend Irene was in the Sunday School class. She spent most of last year alone in her apartment, exhausted from the chemo she regularly received. Now that her strength is slowly returning, she eagerly makes the long drive to church each Sunday. I asked her about her time spent waiting. Her answer: “It was so difficult, but I got so close to the Lord during that time, I wouldn’t change it for anything.” Irene faithfully leads our prayer ministry and fills the role of “prayer warrior” more than anyone I know, yet the Lord used that time of weakness and waiting to strengthen her in ways beyond her imagination.

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. (Is. 40:31 Amp V.)

Are you in “God’s Waiting Room?”

Do you wait as the Amplified Verse says – with expectation, looking for the Lord, hoping in Him? There lies the key to renewed strength and power, run and not being weary, walk and not becoming tired.

Dear Lord, I pray for those who are waiting. That they may sense Your indwelling power. That they will be strengthened to serve You right where they are. And that in the serving they would become more like You.


Jean said...

Yes, lord, Teach us to wait on you. It's always worth the wait.


Sarah Forgrave said...

Wow Susan, this is exactly what I need to hear today. In a couple weeks, my sister will come down here to begin the process of going on the heart tranplant list. This is such a weird flux for me, knowing what's coming and feeling an urgency to prepare. Thank you for sharing these wise words.

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

You are so right. It IS worth the wait!

I will be praying for you and your sister. Such a difficult time, yet with the expectancy of healing. And please be encouraged - I know some people who have had a heart transplant and are living vibrant lives now.

quietspirit said...

I like what you said about serving while we wait on God. I had never thought about it in that sense before. I feel I have been in God's waiting room for a long time.

Anonymous said...

great post! Thanks.
Love, Dawn

Donna Bolster said...

What a wonderful message, Susan. Thank you for your inspired writing. You so often say what my heart wants to hear. Love you, Donna

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Susan -

Thanks for the reminder to live each day serving Him, even if we're waiting for some major life event.

Susan :)

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

Wonderful post, friend! Waiting rooms are where God and I hang out. :O)

Jessica Nelson said...

I think we're probably always waiting on one thing or another. I love that Paul kept himself busy doing stuff for God while he waited. :-)
Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day! I've seen you around to. It's nice to come over and see what you blog about. :-)

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Quiet Spirit,
I know you've been waiting, and I also know that this can be a time of great growth - like a seed, it appears that nothing is going on, when roots and strength are being developed for the future.

Dawn, Donna, Susan & Joanne,
Thanks for the kind words. You always bless me too.

Thanks for the visit :) Just love meeting and making new friends in the blogosphere!

Karen Lange said...

It seems that we're always waiting on something - don't mean that in a negative way...we just are, as we are growing and perfected in Him.

Good food for thought!


Maria I. Morgan said...

Wonderful post, Susan! I've read the book of Acts several times and have never stopped to think about that verse beginning with, "Now while Paul waited..." Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom about this passage! And what a beautiful woman of God you have in your friend, Irene. God bless you with a fantastic week of 'waiting on' Him!! Hugs! :)

Katie Ganshert said...

This is so applicable to writers! Great post!

Thanks for visiting my blog, Susan! And how fun that you've been to the Quad Cities! I love when the world turns small. :)