Loafers, Waiting Rooms, and Finding Hope in the Middle of the Pandemic
It’s been almost a year since we moved out to the farm. It never fails that when Jeff and I turn south to head toward town, we get behind a “loafer.” A loafer is what my Grandpa called old men in pick-up trucks driving under the speed limit. Loafers aren’t really headed anywhere in particular so they go slow----especially past the dollar store. (We haven't figure that one out.)
These slowpokes on Hwy 16 drive my husband crazy! It's rare to be going somewhere where being a few minutes late would make a difference, but Jeff can not abide the pace. He doesn’t even like to let his truck’s engine turn off at a stoplight. He’s always on the ready.
I get it. Most days he works under pressure as he sees his patients who have been waiting on him. He assumes they hate waiting as much as he does. Besides, it’s not easy when you are waiting with a two-year-old so he works at high RPM to try to move through the appointment schedule as quickly as possible.
I’m not picking on him. You and I are right there with him. No one I know really likes to wait.
When our kids were little and we would hear their Daddy drive up at the end of the day, we'd sometimes hide to give him a scare. I’d whisper as we listened for the door to swing open, “Wait…. Wait…. Wait…” Invariably one of the three of them---usually Luke---would jump before the “go” signal.
Something in our human nature resists waiting.
As the stay-at-home directives have lifted and people go about their lives masked and unmasked, there remains a sense that we are all in the waiting room. We are waiting for the pandemic threat to end so that we aren’t confronted daily with realities beyond our control---realities we hoped would have ended by now.
A few weeks ago, I pulled a book from the shelf I read almost 20 years ago. The margins were filled with notes from another time in my life, one that seems far in the distant past. I have a quote from its pages written in the front of my Bible:
"Our future---who we are becoming, where we are going--- matters more than our past----where and who we have been. Our future has more power to name us and define us than our past. Consummation swallows origins. Destiny, not history, is the ultimate ground of our identity.”
(Mark Buchannan, Things Unseen)
I’ve always considered the book a favorite. I remembered it fondly because it gave me comfort. As I opened the yellowed pages and read sentences underlined but forgotten, I realized God had strategically placed that book in my hand. The themes were foundational truths He would build upon in the years that followed. Until I read it again, I didn't understand what he was up to.
That particular season in my life was a time of waiting. Nothing was happening that was propelling my life forward. In fact, I was feeling stuck and struggling to overcome shame from my past. Now all these years later, and in the middle of another season of waiting, I understand God was working in my waiting. I may not have been “doing” anything that seemed significant, but God was.
“...For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.” (Is. 25:1b)
At the beginning of the year 2020, we were all set up to be visionaries for the new decade. We saw the double meaning of 2020 as a signal to live with eyes wide open as new possibilities opened before us. We had no idea what lay ahead. We didn't know the challenges that would change the way we live. We didn't realize we'd be in the waiting room in a matter of days.
Much of God’s plan for our lives can only be seen in hindsight. Reading that book again reminded me that what is happening today is moving me toward tomorrow. It's understandable to feel like someone or something is holding us up, because it's true. It seems we are stuck in a holding pattern that won't end.
Not so with God. He sees the bigger picture. In the Kingdom of God waiting is a place for transformation, a place to grow in our faith and our dependence upon Him. He is ready to help us.
As we live day after day in the upheaval that has set upon the earth, there are some who say God has abandoned us. I don’t believe it. It is much more likely that we have abandoned God to do “what is right in our own eyes.” What an opportunity for God's people to become expectant waiters, assured that God is working even in this waiting:
“And it will be said in that day, ‘Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us, This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” (Is. 25:9)
God is preparing us right now for what awaits us tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. He has plans for us---plans for welfare and not calamity to give us a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11) This present moment is pivotal to our future growth as people and Christ-followers.
We can move through our gears rushing around so we get to where we are going a minute earlier, or we can take our time, settle in behind the loafers and be assured that God is working. He has not forgotten us. These days are not being wasted. We can rest secure in God's plans for our future. We place our hope in Him.
Lord, thank you for working when I am waiting. Help me to trust your promises and rest in your care. In these uncertain times your love remains steadfast. When I can't see what lies ahead, I remember that you have gone before me. I rejoice in the gift of life, my salvation through Jesus Christ.