Friday, April 8, 2016

Waiting Rooms and Sleepless Nights

We see God do the most amazing things when we are patient and spend time in the waiting room. In the waiting room, we discover our own inability and become aware of God’s gracious provision for us. Indeed, sometimes waiting isn’t only the most difficult part, it is the best part.


A few years ago, I had saved up for a guitar I had always wanted. I dreamed of my own, made in the USA, Rickenbacker guitar. I didn’t want just any Rickenbacker; I wanted a twelve-string, electric guitar. I didn’t want just any twelve-string, electric guitar; I wanted one in fire-glow red!


I special ordered the guitar, just the one I wanted. However, the manufacturer had a significant waiting period for this particular model. Each guitar is handmade. I could have had a similar guitar shipped immediately.


I decided to wait! All of a sudden, my anxious waiting became laughter and joy when the UPS truck rolled up to my curb, and the driver knocked on my door! Finally, my dream guitar had arrived! I realized that sometimes waiting just isn’t that bad!


If you want run-of-the mill-living, then just let them ship what is in stock. You get what everyone else gets. But if you want something special, something designed just for you with your name written on the case, you’ve got to give the manufacturer time to hand-make something especially for you. Good things may come to those who wait.


One of my favorite stories about waiting involved two of my favorite church friends. They have gone to heaven now. Hank and Dee Speegle. I remember when they joined our church on the South Roebuck campus so well. They were both in their eighties. Excited about Jesus Christ.


Dee worked for Mayer Electric for almost fifty years. Back before that time, before the Second World War, her sweetheart was Hank. Hank did what so many of the great men of his generation did; he went off to defend his nation. Unfortunately, throughout the war, the couple lost touch. After the war, they both settled down and were married to other people. Eventually, both were widowed and alone.


Imagine their joy when they both rediscovered each other in their late 70s? God brought them together, and they were able to live out their final years together. I called them “Ken and Barbie.” It was so evident that God had put them together.


When Hank got sick, Dee took great care of him. He was loved like no other man on earth. I remember the tears rolling down Dee’s cheeks when Hank passed away. She had waited her whole life for Hank. “God brought us together for a reason,” she said. “I loved him so much!”


Not too long after Hank passed away, Dee became ill and died. Dee was a woman of tremendous faith. However, I believe that when Hank died, a part of Dee died. She became homesick for heaven. Dee wanted to see him again. They had been separated for fifty years before, she couldn’t stand to be apart from him any longer. Waiting can be difficult, but there is joy when we experience God in our waiting—when he does amazing things.


Psalm 40 combines thanksgiving for God’s help in the past with a plea for God to help again. The writer, David, gave a personal story—a testimony—of how God came to his rescue in a desperate situation. We do not have time to look at all of it, but we are going to look at what it says about waiting for God.


When we are overwhelmed, religion won’t save us. God wants to draw us near to himself. We can sing a song of testimony that will help us face the challenge while encouraging someone else in a difficult situation.


Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

    out of the miry bog,
set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,

    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,

    and put their trust in the Lord.


What does it mean to “wait” on God? Does it mean to do nothing? Waiting on God is to remain expectant, and ready. In the Bible, the word wait suggests excitement and confidence. It is hope that God will do something and intervene on behalf of his people. David wrote that to he waited “patiently” in his prayers. He said that the LORD “inclined” or bent down toward him and “heard” or answered his request.


What was the result of David’s prayer? God “drew him up” from “the pit” and out of “the miry bog.” This image here is a pit down in the earth with water rushing at the bottom. The miry bog is the kind of sticky, muddy clay one would find at the bottom of a dug cistern. God drew him up and set his feet on solid ground. David’s experience gave him a song to sing.


David’s experience led him to worship! He had a song of God’s deliverance that he could not help but to sing. The song was sweet and real to him because he learned it in the pit of life. “When I get out of this place, I am going to sing,” David may have thought to himself. “I have a living hope that God is going to get me out of this.” Like a shipwrecked man, swimming for his life, he could see God rowing toward him.


When we wait on God, what are we waiting for him to do?


1. Answer prayer


Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.


Often, our waiting and praying have to do with other people. God transforms hearts. He works in people’s lives on the deepest level. We cannot change hearts; we can pray and influence. This is difficult for many who are waiting, influencing, and praying for a change in someone else’s life.


Many marriages and family relationships fall apart because someone loses patience. They get tired of waiting. Certainly, many of the relationship problems and divorces are a result of people who have unrealized expectations and do not have the discipline to wait. People walk away from each other, destroying possibility because they have set a standard and refused to wait.


Francis Shaeffer said, “We wait for the resurrection of the body. We wait for the perfect application of the finished work of Christ for the whole man. We wait for this, but on this side of the fall, and before Christ comes, we must not insist on ‘perfection or nothing,’ or we will end with the ‘nothing.’”[1] We must pray, exercise patience, and let God work in his own time.


When we are praying, we must make sure that our lives are clean and focused. We are to live in a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Confession is the way we focus our hearts and do business with God. It is confession to God and bringing sin under the blood of Christ that cleanses us. As apologies and changed behavior restores relationships with other people, confession and repentance help us reconnect with God and experience him in our prayers.


2. Save us


Genesis 49:18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.


To wait for God to save is hard to do. Waiting for his salvation is tough because we want to solve our own problems. This is why many in our society want to get rid of God. The battle of truth is really over who has power and is in charge. We do not want to admit that we need God’s salvation.


For those who believe in God and want his salvation, it is still difficult to wait on him. I’m reminded of the story in 2 Kings about Elijah. He is surrounded by the enemy and is comforting the young man who is his servant.


2 Kings 6:16-17 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.


To the servant, this must have been an incredible comfort! At that moment, the young man had all the courage he could ever want. The servant wanted salvation, but he did not realize that salvation was already right there around him. The supernatural was not something far off; he was waiting for God to send help. However, salvation was right there! God opened his eyes so that he could see it.


3. Bring his Kingdom


Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.


All of creation is waiting on God. We are waiting for him to set completely right the wrongs of sin in this world. John could see that Kingdom coming.


Revelation 22:3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.


Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.


We will no longer be in the sinking pit of a broken world. After being weighed down by sin, we will stand on the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ. We will sing a new song with our mouths. The depths of the pit will only make our song greater in gratitude and appreciation for what Jesus Christ has done for us! It is by the completeness of our ruin and hopelessness that we realize the completeness of the restoration that Jesus has brought to us!


Why do we have to wait? “Get us out of this pit, right now!” God, in his wisdom and purpose, may choose to delay when we cry out to him. What does waiting do for us? Waiting helps us to “set hope on” God. Waiting builds endurance as we “hold fast” to God’s promises.


What are God’s promises for those who wait?

·         God will hear the cries of his children.

Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.


·         God will not allow his people to be put to shame.

Isaiah 49:23c. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.


When we wait on Jesus, we never wait in vain!


·         God will renew his people’s strength.

Isaiah 40:31 They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.


God gives us the strength to wait. The strength we gain builds our spiritual muscles. God transforms us by bringing resistance to our impatient hearts. We are forced to depend wholly on God while we wait.


·         God’s people will rejoice in his salvation.

Isaiah 25:9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”


The most important things we can do while we wait on God are the simple things. We need to get into the Bible, God’s owner’s manual for life. Just as the car manufacturers put an owner’s manual in each new car, they build, God has given us his Word to show us how to operate and maintain life. The Bible was not given to answer every particular issue we face in life. It is adequate for us and gives us general direction.


Prayer is another simple, but important, thing we must do while we wait. Lewis Sperry Chafer said, “His leading is only for those who are already committed to doing as He may lead.” This hits home for me; I often ask for God’s direction, and I fail to do what I already know he desires of me. Alan Redpath said, “Don’t expect God to reveal His will for you next week until you practice it today.”


God is not our genie in a bottle. Our wish is not his command. God is our God. He is not accountable to us. We are responsible to God. We can always pray and ask God for wisdom while waiting for direction from him.


James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.


When others see the patience that God has created in us through waiting on him, they will trust in the LORD, also. By seeing your strength, others will have their eyes opened about their own need for Jesus Christ in their life.


2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


When we trust in God, we realize that what matters most is not what is happening to us, but what is happening in us.

[1]Francis Shaeffer, True Spirituality (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1971), 136.