Archive | October 2012

How Are You Waiting?

I was waiting in a doctor’s office last week for a routine appointment and was prepared, as always, with my Bible, a notebook, a good read and my smart phone.  I always know that the wait will be long and so I come ready to use my time wisely.  It also helps with the frustration factor, if you know what I mean!

Alas, another middle-aged woman was waiting with me … and she had not come prepared for the delay of the all-wise doctor.  For the first 5-10 minutes, she chatted pleasantly and then read some recipes in a magazine that was on the seat beside hers.  After about 10 more minutes, she set the magazine down and went up to the sweet receptionist asking, “How much longer will it be?”

“The doctor has had several emergencies today and so it will probably be about another 20 minutes, “ was the reply of the voice behind the desk.

The woman sat down beside me and began to complain.  I tried to kindly remind her that the doctor was a busy man and no one can effectively plan for emergencies.  She turned her back on me.

I think that I should give her a name by now instead of only referring to her as the impersonal “she” and “her”.  “Maude” will do nicely, don’t you think?  There aren’t many “Maude’s” out there and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of offending a Maude.

After another 10 minutes, Maude opened her purse and began going through wrinkled receipts, old gum wrappers, out-dated coupons and wadded up tissues.  Rather than walk them to the waste basket that was a mere 6 feet from our chairs, she deposited her stash of personal garbage on the table beside her chair which held a plethora of magazines for waiting patients.

A few more minutes passed slowly by before Maude went back up to the desk and began to yell … perhaps scream is a better word … at the young girl who was answering phones, pulling up insurance files and dealing with the angry mob.  Maude was rude, aggressive and embarrassing.  The receptionist was in tears.  I was praying and asking God what I could do to relieve some stress in this room.

Finally, a nurse opened the inner door and said, “Carol … it’s your turn.”  I got out of my chair, went to the waiting nurse, and said quietly, “Could Maude go before me?  She is not handling the wait very well.”

“Are you sure, Carol?  It might be a while yet.  I will do my best to get you back quickly but I can’t guarantee anything.”

“Let her go in next.  I don’t want her to have a heart attack in the waiting room,” I whispered with a wink and a smile.

“Maude,” the veteran nurse called.  “Mrs. McLeod has said that you can take her place and go next.”

Maude looked at me with red streaks on her cheeks and said brusquely, “Thank you,” and walked by me without making eye contact.

I am not telling you this story to make me look good or to make Maude look bad.  I am telling you this story to make us all think about the way that we wait.

We all have to wait for something or someone.  Not one of us escapes the growth experience of unending, eternal, nail-biting, heart-racing, boring, exasperating times in which we must wait.  Knowing that we all must wait more than once in a lifetime, here are a few tips that just might help you next time you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, held hostage in a doctor’s office or waiting for God to answer a repetitive prayer.

1 – Waiting can be frustrating (think about Maude) or it can be purposeful.  Which will you make it? You choose whether your times of delay will fortify you or frustrate you.  You choose.

2 – Find something interesting, missional and eternal to do while you wait.  It might be read a good book … engage someone in conversation … or pray for others.  Do not go inward while you are waiting but go outward.  It makes the time pass more quickly … I know.  I have done it both ways.

3 – Don’t play the blame game while you wait.  Don’t blame the doctor, the car in front of you or God.  Rather than blame … I like to bless!  I bless the doctor and his staff … I pray for safety for those around me in traffic … and rather than offer up prayers of outrage … I offer up prayers of thanksgiving.  Blessing rather than blaming develops a nicer, gentler version of self.  I know.  I have done it both ways.

4 – Trust God with the postponements in life that you find yourself encountering.  Perhaps He is protecting you in traffic.  Perhaps there is someone with whom you are waiting that needs your smile and encouragement.  Perhaps God has just decided to strengthen your resolve.  Let your mantra in the wait be, “It’s all good because He is all good!”

5 – While you are waiting, find a Scripture that you can quote.  This works whether you are waiting for God to send you a spouse, bring a rebellious child home, heal a physical disease or send financial resources.  Because the Word of God is a gift from the eternal God Who doesn’t view time the way that we do, the Word always gives us God’s perspective on the wait.  And that, Maude, is exactly what you and I need.  We need God’s perspective on the wait!

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord!”  Psalm 27:14

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.” – Psalm 62:5

“Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Do you have a favorite scripture that you quote when you find yourself in the wait room?  How about sharing it with us?!

Joy for TODAY

Autumn must be the most glorious of months.  I look out my window and see the green grass of summer now scattered with the brilliance of red, yellow and orange leaves.

The placid geese of the summer that I encounter on my daily walk are now showing off.  They are skidding across the pond with a magnificent demonstration of splash and strength as they prepare for the long journey ahead.

A drive through the country-side holds more inspiration and beauty than the finest art gallery in the world.  The hills are ablaze with a riot of color that no human paintbrush could reveal.

If autumn is so miraculous … then why do I dread it so much?  Why does my heart constrict in pain every time I see another leave fall to the ground and hear another goose honk its travel plans over my home?!

It’s because I cringe at the very thought that snowflakes are not too far away.  Winter is NOT my best friend … and the thought of mountains of snow, frigid temperatures and the absence of Mr. Sunshine chills me to the bone.

I have a problem.  I have allowed my distress at the onslaught of winter to rob me of the joy of today.  And tomorrow.  And an entire season of the year!  It’s time for me to grab control of my out-of-control emotions and embrace the joy of today.

For you … it might not be the dread of the coldest of seasons that denies you the joy of the moment but it might be something else.

Perhaps you cringe at the thought of a child preparing for college and so you cry your way through their senior year.  You sob at the last football game and forget the victories won.  You blubber through choir concerts, teachers’ conferences and packing the final sack lunches.

You might be dreading the last few days of the pre-school years and so rather than celebrate all that is ahead, you pour through baby books and wipe your tears with receiving blankets.

Perhaps you shudder when contemplating your looming retirement from a career that was fulfilling and challenging.  Rather than crafting a plan to continue valuable friendships you find yourself withdrawing from the camaraderie of the workplace into a sullen shell.

What is it with us?!  We can just be so horribly human at times!

This is what I have come to realize … God has been to my future and it is good!  He is working every event and circumstance of my life for my highest good and His greatest glory just because I love Him.

There is not a day in life that is worth dreading or withdrawing from.  Every day is a gift … an extraordinary gift.  There is no such thing as an “ordinary” day or even a “bad” day when you are living for a purpose greater than your own.

Whether you are shoveling snow or planting flowers … whether you are changing diapers or waving good-bye … whether you are up and at ‘em at the crack of dawn or can spend a leisurely morning over a cup of coffee and good book … remind yourself that life is a gift.

Every day is a rare and priceless treasure that is meant to be valued not dreaded.  I will not waste one day.  Not one hour.  Not one minute.  I will never again take for granted the joy of a glorious day.

I am determined to live well today.  Passionately and wholeheartedly.  How about you?  Will you put away your dread … your fear … your anxieties … and your regrets? Will you dive into a life that was meant to be experienced with laughter and delight?!

It is the deepest hope and prayer of my heart that you will decide that today is worth celebrating no matter what is behind you or in front of you.  And … while you are deciding … will you excuse me?  I need to go …

There are some geese outside putting on a show that deserves my full attention!