The Waiting Place
Like many mothers, I was reading my son a story as he fell asleep the other night. I began to read a book written by the famous children’s author, Dr Seuss. Although I have read my share of one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, and it can all seem like garble and funny words, I have found wisdom in the pages of the Dr Seuss books. This particular night, Jaxon and I were reading, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.”
This story is a very upbeat. It encourages those who read it they are meant for great things. But there is one section of the book where encouragement is scarce and the bummers of life are made a reality. This section is called the waiting place. Here is the excerpt:
“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 the 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 the 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.”
Although not all of us are actually waiting for these particular things, Dr Seuss is revealing a rarely recognized truth of the human existence; We are all waiting for something. In fact, I believe, as humans, we live in a constant state of waiting. It could be as simple as waiting for the laundry to dry or the cookies to bake. It could look more like waiting for a promotion or a positive pregnancy test. It can also look more grim, like waiting to hear the diagnosis or even waiting to die. We move from waiting from one thing to another. We wait for multiple things at a time. All the while we do this crazy thing called life, we wait.
You might think that the "waiting place" would be peaceful. And Dr Seuss kind of makes it seem like it is. The pages are filled with dull colors and the people are just sitting around. But in real life, while we wait for things to come to pass, our houses must be cleaned and bills have to be paid. We have to shop for groceries, and feed our families. We have busy schedules between work and play. We are actually quite busy while we wait. We can easily fill up the empty space that waiting creates in our lives. Physically, waiting can be exhausting. Emotionally, waiting isn't easy either. Waiting causes space to worry and to overthink.
I doubt Dr Seuss meant to turn my thoughts upside down concerning waiting, but it seems that he has. As I look around at my family and friends, I see people who are waiting for all kinds of things. And it makes me wonder… what does God have to say about waiting?
I instantly begin to think of scriptures that contain the phrase, wait on the Lord.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” (Psalms 130:5)
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
The Bible clearly says to wait on the Lord. But what does that mean? Because waiting on earth feels like a big, empty, and unpleasant place. A place where I hear little from God and have trouble trusting He is working on my behalf. Just because we wait doesn’t even guarantee that we will receive what we are waiting for. Waiting can feel negative. It can even be difficult to hope while waiting. So why does the Lord command us to do so? Those verses aren’t a suggestion.
I believe waiting reveals the condition of our hearts. When we lost our son, I quickly found the relationship I had with God, which I believed was built on a solid foundation, was actually built upon the sand. Within 24 hours, I had gone from praising the Lord to cursing his name. The bible says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalms 139:23) God uses waiting to reveal to us what He already knows about us. He sees the reality of our hearts condition. Thankfully for us, God is always concerned about the condition of our hearts and making us more like Him. So he does. And most of the time it doesn’t feel good. And more often than not, it looks a lot like waiting.
As I continued to study the Word, I found that waiting is actually one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. “And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22) Waiting sounds a lot like patience to me. Some versions of the Bible replace the word “patience” with “longsuffering”. I don't really like the word patience or even having to practice it, but I really don't like the sound of longsuffering! When you have experienced grief, you know the definition of longsuffering without having to read it in a dictionary. It’s the feeling that defines it. Waiting can look like longsuffering.
And this is difficult, isn’t it? How could longsuffering be a fruit of the spirit? All the other fruits are so positive and wonderful. As Christians, we pray for them on a regular basis. I promise you, I have never prayed to suffer before. But now I wonder if I should. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it’s full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Although Dr Seuss understood it is common to wait, he failed to see that it isn't actually a negative thing. It seems as if I should find joy in my waiting, not pain and disappointment. God himself commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) Waiting on the Lord should be my joy, my pleasure, and my purpose. King David in the Psalms believed it. And if it's good enough for David, than it should be good enough for me.
I believe waiting on the Lord means spending time with him. If he is the God of my hopes, fears, dreams, plans, pain, and joy, he is also the God of my waiting place. If I am going to spend time waiting, I might as well spend it with Jesus. The bible says to pray without ceasing and to meditate on the Word day and night. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Joshua 1:8) We should be praying every day. Praying for ourselves to wait with joyful hearts, as well as for our family and friends to do so also. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” This scripture promises that if we pray, we will see an end to our waiting.
I think that God commands us to wait so that we are constantly searching for Him in our everyday lives. When we do this, our eyes are open to seeing the intricacies of His handiwork, how God has weaved our lives together, and upholds our very existence. As I think about encountering the divine in my normal day, I am humbled by what it means to be privy to the workings of the creator of the universe. That He who made me would care enough to let me see him work wonders on my behalf is truly incredible. He does this because he loves us and he wants to see us in awe of him. He wants us to wait so that He can do what only he can do.
I believe that waiting on the Lord means believing God truly is working on my behalf and for my good even when it seems like He is silent as I sit on my waiting bench in my waiting place. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.”
I have to be honest, I hated this scripture after the loss of my child. It seemed like a bold faced lie from God. How could the death of my son be part of a good plan? His death stripped all hope from me, and wrecked the future I believed was mine. Time doesn’t really heal wounds, but God does. Now this scripture is dear to my heart once more. Although I waited six months for a child I never got to meet, and I now have to wait until I reach heaven in order to see my little Jasper again, I know God has a beautiful plan for my life. There is so much in my future to wait for. And so much to look forward to while I wait for it to come to pass. I have stored up treasures in heaven that I am both called to and honored to wait to for.
As I studied the Word and tried to interpret how to wait on the Lord, a question popped into my mind. What should I really be waiting for?
As Christians, we believe that Jesus will come back to earth for a second time and redeem the world. I doubt any of us truly believe this will happen in our lifetime… but I think we should live like we believe it. Luke 12:36 says, "Be like the men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.”
This scripture reveals to us, that the only thing we should truly be waiting for, above all other things, is the return of our Lord. Everything in between is technically a moot point in comparison. But I get caught up in the wants and cares of this world, I assume, the same as you. I confess to you, I want to have more children more than I want Jesus to return. And I know my heart is not centered on Christ first. Wanting children isn’t bad, but wanting them more than my Savior is. The Bible says that those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh and with it their earthly desires and passions. (Galatians 5:23) What am I waiting for that is heavenly? And what am I waiting for that isn't? What earthly desires have I not allowed to be crucified, and put completely into Jesus’ hands?
Friends, I can't promise you that what you are waiting for will come to pass in this life. That is the difficulty of waiting and believing in God while we do so. We have no guarantee that what we are waiting for will be gifted to us while we live on this Earth. But I will promise you this, that everything your heart desires will come to pass in the Lord's timing, whether that is in this life or when we pass on to be with Jesus in the next. God says in his word, there will be no more tears, no more pain. (Revelation 21:4) There will be nothing left to hurts us and nothing to cry over anymore once Jesus returns. That means that those babies you so desperately want to have or to finally meet, will be given to you. God will deliver the desires of our hearts. He promises in his word! “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalms 37:4) God just doesn't say how long we have to wait for those desires to come to pass. The difficult truth is, there are some things we will wait for until the day we meet Jesus on the other side of death.
We know that waiting produces perseverance. But what are we persevering for? The answer is heaven. My grandmother is an example of this. She waited to find her spouse when she was young. She waited to retire with her husband and live a peaceful life together. Just when she almost had what she was waiting for, my grandfather passed away. Now she waits to be reunited with him in heaven to live out eternity together. I know my grandmother misses her husband. I know the waiting is difficult. No matter how many great grandchildren she piles up or how many sweet things happen on Earth, her mind is heaven set. She waits on the Lord because he holds her greatest treasures, greater than the world could ever offer her. The world passes away, but God stands, and his temple is forever, and his treasures are forever, and his kingdom is forever.
So we will wait on the Lord together. We will settle into our waiting place which includes our Bible's open, our hearts quiet, our prayers rising to heaven, and our minds set on the King returning to fulfill our every dream. Whatever He chooses to fulfill while we yet live, is grace from the Most High King. So I will wait to see my babies in heaven. I will wait to try and have more children. But I will rejoice in waiting, because it allows me to know the Father, to be close to Him, to trust my Savior, and to see glimpses of the redemption of every single detail of my life back to Him.