Together in an upper room
Door locked, gripped with fear
If only we could remember
What He said before
In this very room
Just two days ago
As we wait
Tag Archives: Waiting
Together in an upper room
The dust-covered book
sits silently on the table
waiting to be dusted
The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub yesterday was to write a poem in the style of imagism. I immediately thought of the above short bit of verse.
Some things are worth the wait. Cookies baking in the oven are worth the wait, especially if they are made with love and good ingredients. A visit from a good friend or family member is worth the wait, especially when the time together is precious. A trip to a warm and sunny destination is worth the wait, especially when one is tired of the cold.
The Israelites learned that waiting for the tabernacle to be finished was worth the wait. And it was a long wait. It took a year for all of the work to be completed. But when the tabernacle was completed, the Lord came to dwell with them and His Glory filled the tabernacle. See Exodus 40.
The birth of Jesus was also worth the wait. Hundreds of years before His birth, the prophets foretold of His coming and that He would be a ransom for the sins of many. The Israelites had waited a long time for His birth; some are still waiting. But for those who know the Lord Jesus, the wait was worth it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’ve been experiencing a lot of waiting lately. In my last two posts—here and here— I mentioned some of this waiting. But now the waiting is over! (Well, sort of. I’m still waiting for my author copies to come in the mail).
My poetry book, Light in My Darkness: Poems of Hope for the Brokenhearted, is now available on Amazon.com! I just approved the proof this morning and it’s already available for sale. It took over a year, longer than it took the Israelites to build the tabernacle, but the work God set out for me to do is finally completed. And one of my favorite parts is that my son designed the cover, drawing the original cover art in Photoshop.
My hope and prayer is that the Lord will dwell in the hearts of those who read it and be blessed by the Light in my darkness.
Well, I said yesterday I’d update you all when my files were approved by CreateSpace, and they have now been approved. (It actually happened yesterday afternoon, but I didn’t have time to post an update).
What now? More waiting! I was able to look at a digital proof and even a 3D digital model of my book, but CreateSpace recommends that authors that are new to working with them get a print proof before approving their book for distribution. I thought this was a good idea so I ordered a print proof. It should be here by next Monday. I can hardly wait!
But wait I must, and maybe pray that it will get here earlier.
This book is just the first to be published by my new company, John 14:6 Publications. I already have the next book of poetry partially drafted and organized. And I have a daily devotional planned after that. So I guess I better get used to waiting because there is a lot of that in the publishing business, even if you self-publish through CreateSpace and Amazon.
I’ll let you all know when the book is available for purchase, which will hopefully be some time next week.
I’m just so excited! I know the poetry God helped me write is going to be such a blessing to others, so it’s hard to wait for it to be ready. But if I’ve learned anything about God over the years, He has a plan and timeframe for everything, and it’s often much different than my plan and timeframe.
And so I learn patience. I could definitely use a little more of that.
I have loved Tom Petty since high school; his voice is just so unique. One of my favorite Tom Petty songs is The Waiting. The chorus of this song is:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
It is so true that waiting is hard. Patience is not part of human nature; it is a fruit of the Spirit.
And yet wait we must.
Waiting for answers
to heartfelt prayers
is hard, almost impossible
yet wait we must
Waiting on God
to heal and to bless
faith makes it possible
then the waiting finally ends
Sometimes it seems
the waiting is forever
but looking back we see
answers and blessings
Grace, faith, patience
fruit of the Spirit
remind us that God
has perfect timing
Waiting for answers
to heartfelt prayers
is hard, but not impossible
as wait we must
I’m sticking with taking the Psalms in order again this week, and the next one is Psalms 10. I found it interesting that the first verse seemed to fit so well with my Saturday post on waiting “When the Dice Are in the Air.” If I had worked on scheduling my Sunday Psalms first I might have quoted that verse.
I think that this Psalms is a wonderful one for the state of our world right now. When you watch the news and the economy, it seems that the wicked and greedy are getting away with a lot. The rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and the middle class are moving in with the poor. The other day I read an article about food stamps, and how so many people who are on food stamps also have jobs but their jobs don’t pay enough to keep food on the table for their families. One woman worked for Walmart 25 hours a week at $8.08 an hour trying to support herself and her daughter. I did the math; that’s only $808 per month before taxes are taken out. But I’ll bet the CEOs and stockholders of Walmart wouldn’t blink an eye at dropping that kind of money for fun on a weekend. It’s easy to become cynical and think perhaps God has forgotten or doesn’t see.
But this Psalms, and scripture as a whole, reminds us that this perception is an illusion. In the end, the wicked and the greedy, those who care not for the fatherless and the oppressed, will see justice. God will restore those who trust in Him.
1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me;
I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.”
7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.
8 He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims.
9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.
11 He says to himself, “God has forgotten;
he covers his face and never sees.”
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
I’ve never played craps and don’t really like gambling, but if I was going to gamble I suppose craps would be my game. Slots are too easy for the house to skew in their favor, and cards are just too complicated. With craps it’s just you, the dice, and the hand of God. Not that I think God is really into helping people out with their gambling, so don’t go thinking I’m advocating this as a method of finding God’s blessing. I really just want to use craps as an analogy for life.
Here’s how craps works. You hold the dice in your hand. As long as you hold onto them, you aren’t really in the game. You can’t win or lose. As soon as you let go of the dice, the outcome is completely out of your control and all you can do is hope for a 7 or 11, or at least to not get a 2, 3, or 12. For a split second the outcome is unknown – the dice are in the air and you’re just waiting. Once the dice land, you either win, lose, or get to keep playing.
Sometimes life is like a game of craps. If you try to stay in control of everything you aren’t really in the game. If you don’t take risks, you miss out on potential blessings. Sometimes you have to let go of the dice. Other times you don’t have any choice because they are forced from your hand. But at any rate, you are bound to face periods of uncertainty in life when the outcome of something – a job interview, or medical tests, or a romantic relationship – is uncertain.
The uncertainty may, as in craps, last only a moment. But often we find ourselves staring at the dice as they just hang in the air for what seems like forever. Why don’t they land already so we will know what’s going to happen? We impatiently await the job offer, or test results, or the opportunity to meet someone we can love. We don’t like to wait.
But wait we must. The only thing we can control is how we wait. We can let the waiting make us miserable, or we can trust that God is in control.
My church has been going through just such a waiting period as we seek a permanent lead pastor. Each member of the congregation is handling it in their own way; some are waiting more patiently than others. We know God is in control and will bring the right lead pastor for us if we trust in Him, but the waiting is still hard.
But there is one person who is an amazing example of trusting in God because the uncertainty of this situation in multiplied for him. That is our interim pastor. The rest of us really want to know who our lead pastor will be and when he will be here so we can move forward as a congregation, but church still goes on week after week while we wait. For our interim pastor, the calling of a permanent lead pastor will be the end of his call with us, and right now he has no idea when that will be. Where he will serve the Lord when his service with us is completed is also uncertain. The possibilities are many, but the outcome is uncertain.
And yet he has been a wonderful encouragement and witness to the rest of us of how to trust in God for the outcome. He is at peace with the situation, knowing that when the dice fall they will fall as God wills. He knows that while the dice are in the air, they are really in the hand of God. He sees and points us to the ways in which God has already been in control of the process in a very real way, right down to opening up a Sunday for our current pastoral candidate to preach for us and to meet the congregation.
So what uncertainty do you have in your life right now? Have you just thrown the dice or have they been hanging in the air for what seems like an eternity? Take heart, God is in control. When the time is right, He will cause the dice to fall as they should. Trust in Him for His perfect timing in all things. When you trust in Him, you will know peace instead of misery, even in the most challenging rolls of life’s game of craps.
You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20. The screen saver on my computer is the Marquee setting with this verse. It’s a good reminder for me because I can forget to listen, be quick to speak or answer an email, and quickly become angry at some irritation of a co-worker or volunteer.
But I do want to live the righteous life that God desires, and so I have provided myself with the frequent screen saver reminder of that my natural reaction to a stressful situation or difficult person will not bring that about. The opposite is also true. Being quick to listen, especially to the Holy Spirit, can bring blessings. Being slow to speak and slow to become angry gives me time to process what has happened and figure out how God would want me to react. And acting or reacting as God would want me to almost always brings about a better result for me and those I work with.
“But what if the other person is really in the wrong?” you ask. That is for God to judge and for Him to deal with that person accordingly. “God does not judge by external appearance.” Galatians 2:6. He knows what is in the heart of all human beings. But when you and I react quickly and angrily, we judge only by external appearances. Our judgment and actions can be clouded by our own pride.
I believe that much of human interaction that goes badly is a matter of pride battling pride. I can be so certain I am right that I can’t see my own part in a dispute. If I am quick to become angry, if I don’t slow down and listen, take time to pray and meditate on the godly response, then I am likely to be guilty of the same prideful actions as the person I have become angry with.
Today I heeded the advice of James. I slowed down and took a deep breath. I didn’t respond immediately as I was tempted to do. I listened to the Holy Spirit and decided I would wait until tomorrow to respond, after I had time to pray about it. Turns out the issue was resolved in my favor by someone with more authority without my having to respond at all. God is good.