How Are You Waiting?

I was waiting in a doctor’s office last week for a routine appointment and was prepared, as always, with my Bible, a notebook, a good read and my smart phone.  I always know that the wait will be long and so I come ready to use my time wisely.  It also helps with the frustration factor, if you know what I mean! Alas, another middle-aged woman was waiting with me ... and she had not come prepared for the delay of the all-wise doctor.  For the first 5-10 minutes, she chatted pleasantly and then read some recipes in a magazine that was on the seat beside hers.  After about 10 more minutes, she set the magazine down and went up to the sweet receptionist asking, “How much longer will it be?”

“The doctor has had several emergencies today and so it will probably be about another 20 minutes, “ was the reply of the voice behind the desk.

The woman sat down beside me and began to complain.  I tried to kindly remind her that the doctor was a busy man and no one can effectively plan for emergencies.  She turned her back on me.

I think that I should give her a name by now instead of only referring to her as the impersonal “she” and “her”.  “Maude” will do nicely, don’t you think?  There aren’t many “Maude’s” out there and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of offending a Maude.

After another 10 minutes, Maude opened her purse and began going through wrinkled receipts, old gum wrappers, out-dated coupons and wadded up tissues.  Rather than walk them to the waste basket that was a mere 6 feet from our chairs, she deposited her stash of personal garbage on the table beside her chair which held a plethora of magazines for waiting patients.

A few more minutes passed slowly by before Maude went back up to the desk and began to yell ... perhaps scream is a better word ... at the young girl who was answering phones, pulling up insurance files and dealing with the angry mob.  Maude was rude, aggressive and embarrassing.  The receptionist was in tears.  I was praying and asking God what I could do to relieve some stress in this room.

Finally, a nurse opened the inner door and said, “Carol ... it’s your turn.”  I got out of my chair, went to the waiting nurse, and said quietly, “Could Maude go before me?  She is not handling the wait very well.”

“Are you sure, Carol?  It might be a while yet.  I will do my best to get you back quickly but I can’t guarantee anything.”

“Let her go in next.  I don’t want her to have a heart attack in the waiting room,” I whispered with a wink and a smile.

“Maude,” the veteran nurse called.  “Mrs. McLeod has said that you can take her place and go next.”

Maude looked at me with red streaks on her cheeks and said brusquely, “Thank you,” and walked by me without making eye contact.

I am not telling you this story to make me look good or to make Maude look bad.  I am telling you this story to make us all think about the way that we wait.

We all have to wait for something or someone.  Not one of us escapes the growth experience of unending, eternal, nail-biting, heart-racing, boring, exasperating times in which we must wait.  Knowing that we all must wait more than once in a lifetime, here are a few tips that just might help you next time you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, held hostage in a doctor’s office or waiting for God to answer a repetitive prayer.

1 - Waiting can be frustrating (think about Maude) or it can be purposeful.  Which will you make it? You choose whether your times of delay will fortify you or frustrate you.  You choose.

2 - Find something interesting, missional and eternal to do while you wait.  It might be read a good book ... engage someone in conversation ... or pray for others.  Do not go inward while you are waiting but go outward.  It makes the time pass more quickly ... I know.  I have done it both ways.

3 - Don’t play the blame game while you wait.  Don’t blame the doctor, the car in front of you or God.  Rather than blame ... I like to bless!  I bless the doctor and his staff ... I pray for safety for those around me in traffic ... and rather than offer up prayers of outrage ... I offer up prayers of thanksgiving.  Blessing rather than blaming develops a nicer, gentler version of self.  I know.  I have done it both ways.

4 - Trust God with the postponements in life that you find yourself encountering.  Perhaps He is protecting you in traffic.  Perhaps there is someone with whom you are waiting that needs your smile and encouragement.  Perhaps God has just decided to strengthen your resolve.  Let your mantra in the wait be, “It’s all good because He is all good!”

5 - While you are waiting, find a Scripture that you can quote.  This works whether you are waiting for God to send you a spouse, bring a rebellious child home, heal a physical disease or send financial resources.  Because the Word of God is a gift from the eternal God Who doesn’t view time the way that we do, the Word always gives us God’s perspective on the wait.  And that, Maude, is exactly what you and I need.  We need God’s perspective on the wait!

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord!”  Psalm 27:14

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” - Psalm 62:5

“Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:31

Do you have a favorite scripture that you quote when you find yourself in the wait room?  How about sharing it with us?!