Coffee in a Waiting Room
Recently, I have spent some long hours in the emergency room or cancer center while my aunt receives treatment. This precious woman is 83 years old and fighting her way through her second bought with myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. This is a cancer that affects the cells in your bone marrow and doesn't allow them to mature or become healthy cells. As I visited with my wonderful aunt this week she told me that this was the first time she realized she was "old". Up until 83 and a few months of age, she never thought she was old. She had been living out her life with full gusto, traveling, organizing BINGO at the senior center, playing Ponytail for hours on end with her friends while they ate and giggled and talked. She was living her life to the fullest, fully relying on God for his plan to be played out.
At the age of 79, my Aunt gave herself to the Lord. She had been a caregiver for my mother, her sister and best friend, for many years. She helped my mom through MDS and blindness due to macular degeneration. During this time, she was always by her side for whatever she needed, cooking, cleaning, or just a long talk while sitting outside. While she took care of my mom, she watched my mother's great faith in the Lord play out in the life God had chosen to give to her, which I am sure was not one either of them expected. I don't know if my mother really knew that she was leading my Aunt to a faith in Jesus, but God only asks us to be His Light in this world and to let him do the work. (Matthew 5:14) We are to plant the seed and He will cause it to grow. My mother would watch church on the TV, or rather, listen to it while it showed on the small TV in her room. She would sing along with the hymns and other songs and say the prayers as they were shared. Before my mother got to this point, though, my aunt would take her to church and sit and listen, even though she did not quite understand it all.
Once my mom was gone, my aunt knew she wanted a life like my mom's even though it may have been difficult in the end. She wanted a life that had a hope and a belief, and a faith that gave her the strength to get up each day. She wanted Jesus!
The story of Abram, in Genesis reminded me of the impatience and frustration I felt while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital with my aunt, waiting to be seen. Why wasn't anything happening? When would they call for her, after all there were no other people waiting? Shouldn't they see her first, she is the oldest one around and clearly needs help? I was frustrated that the questions weren't being answered and they weren't working fast enough in giving my aunt the much needed help she deserved, RIGHT NOW!!! At no time did I stop to think that maybe they were with someone else who needed them more, or they were working with someone who had been waiting longer than we had. Never did I think that the doctor may have had to leave a recital for his young daughter early so that he could do his work at the hospital and now was racing to the hospital because he wanted to stay one minute longer to see her dance. Could this have been why he hadn't been in to see her yet? In my mind, things needed to be happening and moving. Action needed to be taken now! Abram and Sarai thought the same thing. In Genesis 15, the Lord promises Abram that he will have an heir that will come from his own body (15:4) even though his wife was barren. Abram believed what the Lord was telling him and had great faith that it would, indeed, come true. Then Abram and Sarai waited for this time to come. And, they waited. And, they wondered why it wasn't happening. And, they began to scheme and develop a plan. At no time, like me in the waiting room, did they consider that God was at work and in his perfect time they would have a child whose offspring would be as numerous as the stars. (Gen. 15:5) They got frustrated, became impatient. They stopped remembering their faith in God and the great grace that he promised. They took things into their own hands and began to take care of it themselves. In their plan, Hagar came into the picture to deliver a child. Oh, how far away this was from God's great plan.
Our faith in God and his great grace is shown when he plants the seed in our hearts of what he has planned for us, and we simply wait and watch it grow. Once he speaks this word into our hearts it may take time and preparation for God to work out what he plans for us and we may not always see the work he is doing. All the struggle, pain, and sadness my mom had was God's plan being played out so that her sister would come to know Jesus. My mom didn't want any of this struggle. I know in my heart she wanted my aunt to know the Lord, but she certainly didn't want to have to go through all of this for it to happen. But it was God's plan. Of course, I can only see this now, five years after my mom has been gone. But I was able to see it through my aunt's struggle now and how she is able to handle it because she has a hope in the Lord she didn't have before.
Here's the thing, when we begin to take away God's power by putting our plan into place, God does not have to bless it. In fact, he probably won't, and now you are stuck in waiting for His plan and the extra time it took trying to put your plan into place. God asks us to sit and wait, that is faith. How many times have you looked back with regret because you didn't do something you thought you should have done? How many times do you wish that you would have taken a different path? God had those things planned for you and because you decided to take charge of your life those things didn't happen. Waiting on God is working out your faith. What if the Israelites did not have faith in God who said he would part the sea? (Exodus 14:19-31) What if Jacob did not have faith that God would make the walls of Jericho fall after marching around them for 7 days? (Joshua 6: 1-27) If these people of faith would have put their plan into place rather than waiting on God, this whole story of life would look a lot different. How different does your life look because you could not wait for God to put his plan into place? Could you possibly wait 7 days, or however long it might take, for God to show you his plan and work it out in your life?
I don't know what God's perfect plan for my mom's life was. I don't know what God's perfect plan for my aunt's life is. I certainly don't know what His plan for me is, but I can see it working out as I continue to sit, wait, pray, praise, ask. Do I get it right all the time? Certainly not, in fact I have a great 2 yearlong adventure that was not God's plan, but he turned it into something great, that I can tell you about later. The thing is, though, I keep trying. I keep seeking. I keep wanting.
Gabrielle of Inspiring Honey, writes about 5 ways to follow God's plan for your life. She lists these things:
Be in prayer each day and devote yourself to His plan in your life.
Be actively reading the Word in order to understand His call on your life.
Follow the commands He puts on your heart and trust the dreams that he has given you.
Seek a Godly community who follow God and can help you discern his ways.
Obey the truth that He calls you to live.
Funny that she should list these because I believe He said this all first. I have a feeling she followed His plan.
Don't beat yourself up if you have taken a path that leads you astray. We have all done it. I'm sure I will do it again as well. But I know if I follow the steps He has laid in front of me, I will likely stop becoming frustrated while in the waiting room.
So, grab your hot drink. Mine is a latte with half and half, extra hot. Sit down with God and ask him about his plan. Ask him to show you where you have tried to take control. Praise Him for that great plan, full of grace, that he has for you. Look forward and watch the sea part and the walls fall.