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Archive for February, 2012

Feb 06

The Waiting Room

Originally written for The Sophia Network – http://www.sophianetwork.org.uk

In the last two years I seem to have spent a lot of my time in waiting rooms. Due to a back problem I have been through X-Rays, MRI scans and physiotherapy, with every appointment requiring a short, or sometimes not so short wait, in the waiting room.

They are not very inspiring places. Magazines are always months, if not years, out of date, horrible plastic pastel coloured chairs line the walls and a display of mostly irrelevant information leaflets usually occupies one solitary corner. People come and go, people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. People with all kinds of stories. It seems everyone at some point has a stint in the waiting room.

Many times during my waiting room moments, I have realised that in my life I have very much been in a metaphorical waiting room. Almost two years ago I left a job I had done for seven years, since I was 19 years old. This was a big deal. What would I do now? What does God have planned next? What if there isn’t anything else planned? I hoped there would be some next big thing, some other God given idea that I would be able to launch myself straight into. Instead God has lead me into a time of waiting and studying, where I am unpacking and evaluating seven years of ministry, learning to be enough just as a daughter of God, trying new things, enjoying life and trying to figure out where God wants me next. I have hated it! I want to be out there changing the world, dreaming big dreams and working hard with God to see them come to life. But instead I am just sat in the waiting room.

There are so many examples of people in the bible who were made to wait. God told Abraham that his offspring would be so numerous trying to count them would be like counting the dust, that he would have more descendants than there were stars in the sky. At the time this may have been a little awkward as he was over 75 years old and had no children. When his wife Sarah was ninety years old and Abraham was 100, God again promised the same thing and specifically said that Sarah would get pregnant and have a child. Abraham laughed. Sarah laughed. But it happened. Their waiting wasn’t easy and they made mistakes but in spite of all that, everything that had been promised took place.

Moses was told he would lead the Israelites out of slavery into the promised land, a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’. When they finally did get out of Egypt, how long did it take for them to get to the promised land? A couple of weeks? A month or two? No – forty years. Forty years of wandering in a desert. Wandering in a dry, dusty, empty, hot desert, that was supposed to be milk and honey.

David was anointed by the prophet Samuel and told he would be king. But before this happened the leader he had faithfully served and loved turned on him, he almost lost his life and was forced to go into hiding to save himself. He lost his best friend, he faced battles and temptations. Sat in a cave alone and hiding, I bet he didn’t feel like what he had been promised was going to happen. I bet he didn’t feel much like a king.

My experience has shown me that sometimes the waiting room is boring and frustrating. It feels like you are not where you’re supposed to be. You’ve got better things to do, jobs to be getting on with. But maybe the waiting room is part of the plan.

When I read what happened to Moses and the Israelites in the desert, I begin to understand why waiting is so important. They learned to trust God completely as their provider, they learned to stop complaining, they learned to support and respect their leaders, they got Egypt out of their heads. They learned the kinds of lessons you can only learn in the desert. And when they entered that promised land, they were ready, they were more than ready! But only because they had done their time in the waiting room.

If waiting is part of the plan, maybe we should stop impatiently tapping our feet, looking at our watch, wondering when we’re going to get out, and embrace the waiting room as a God given place.

We are a people called to wait. We live in one giant waiting room, with the knowledge that one day our precious and perfect king Jesus will come back to restore our broken earth and reign forever. We live in hope, we live in the knowledge that one day, what we have been promised will come true. No more tears, no more pain, a dream made real and the promise fulfilled.

Waiting has always been part of the plan.

So maybe you are stuck in the waiting room. Maybe you have been promised something and you long for the day when that promise is fulfilled. Maybe you are waiting for a miracle, for healing, for a relationship, a job. Maybe you are waiting to see transformation in the lives of the young people you work with. Maybe you’ve just sat down in the waiting room, or maybe you feel like you’ve been there long enough and you can’t wait any longer.

Whatever your situation, know that waiting is part of the plan. Know that God is changing you, training you and transforming you in a way that only the waiting room can. Know that everyone has a stint in the waiting room. But most of all know that the God we trust is a God who knows the plans he has for us, a God who never makes a promise that he will not fulfill and a God who will always do immeasurably more than anything we could ask or imagine.

No one stays in the waiting room forever.

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Feb 01

A Parable about Pumpkin Pie

Joel and Ben were best friends who both loved pumpkin pie. Despite all their ups and downs growing up, throughout their childhood pumpkin pie had been the one thing that had always united them. They would regularly hang out together; eating different varieties of pie, comparing recipes, watching cookery shows and documentaries on the pumpkin growing process. At weekends they would often visit pumpkin growing competitions and after working together as teenagers to create their own pumpkin growing business at their allotment, they would often enter the competitions themselves. They devoted their lives to pumpkin pie and everyone who knew them knew about their obsession with it. Sometimes people even mocked them for it! But they loved it, and as they grew into adults they continued to learn everything they could about it. One year, at the Pumpkin Farmers Summer Camp, they made a pact, promising each other that they would spend their lives spreading the message of pumpkin pie, to all who had not yet experienced the joy it could bring.

One day at the annual Pumpkin Pie Appreciation Society Conference, Joel and Ben listened to a pumpkin grower, who like them, had devoted his life to pumpkin pie. He gave a talk on how pumpkin pie was best served warm, that cold pumpkin pie was inferior. He argued passionately and convincingly and his love for pumpkin pie was obvious.

After the talk, Joel turned to Ben and began to compliment the speaker, praising his insight and clearly agreeing with what the speaker had said. It was obvious that the pumpkin grower was right, his points were excellent and he had been growing pumpkins for years and years. He knows everything there is to know about pumpkins, and about pumpkin pie. He even referenced the Pumpkin Pie Appreciation Society’s guidebook to back up his points! It must be true that pumpkin pie is best served warm.

Joel noticed that Ben looked troubled and asked his friend what was wrong. Ben began to explain that ever since he was little, he had enjoyed pumpkin pie not warm, but cold, straight from the fridge! He explained his reasons for this, all he knew about pumpkins and pumpkin pie, all his experience and his study had lead him to believe that it was best enjoyed cold. He also, quoted the Pumpkin Pie Appreciation Society’s guidebook to back up his thoughts.

Joel and Ben both love pumpkin pie. They have both devoted their lives to it. One thinks it is best served warm, and the other thinks it is best served cold.

Who is right, Joel or Ben?

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