Just When Can I Leave the Waiting Room?

8:47 AMHeather

I know, without a doubt, that I am in good company with this sentiment.

I am way over the waiting room in life. 

I feel as though I have read every magazine, counted every ceiling tile, asked until I'm blue in the face about when it will be my turn, and I've looked at my watch approximately 365,478 times. 

In the last hour alone.

It's discouraging. It leaves me feeling as though I'm talking to a wall and the silence is beyond frustrating. The prayers for something that is STILL not coming. 

I keep seeing this image.


Okay, look. I've done it. I've tried to sing every last praise song I know. All four verses. I've tried to thank God for every last thing I can think of to thank him for here, as I wait. 

But, gotta be real.

I'm. Just. Over. It. 

And I wanna know--just when can I leave this waiting room?

This little Eeyore mentality was where I landed last week. Again. All week long. Just in one of those funks about the whole thing and gotta be honest--I wasn't very pleasant.  

Can I get an a-men? Anyone else out there feeling the same way?

You've asked and asked and prayed and prayed, and it all feels to no avail. What you know in your head to be true is just not connecting to your heart. Because your emotions are just knee deep in the discouragement.

Well, allow me to show you a way out. And trust me--this isn't from me. This is our Heavenly Father answering me when I begged him for a clear word of encouragement to help me keep going.

Maybe you feel as though you've cast your net, again and again and again. And you haven't caught a thing. You've prayed for your rebellious child to turn back. You've asked God to help your child who struggles. You've asked repeatedly for your relationship to be restored. You've prayed for a new job. You've asked for financial provision. You've asked to become a wife. Or a mother. 

Over and over and over. You've prayed for that thing that feels so dear and precious and evasive to you.

And you've got nothing.

Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." Luke 5:5

If you have prayed the prayer so many times you've lost count, with no results.

Jesus says keep asking. If you've caught nothing...you've made no headway. The waiting continues.

Jesus says let down the nets that one more time.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats SO FULL THEY BEGAN TO SINK. Luke 5:6-7

Listen, I'm not talking some prosperity gospel here. But I am pointing you to the truth. 

When you have fished all the live-long night with no results, Jesus says don't give up. Keep fishing.

Because at his command, our nets will be full. Our answer will come. He will move and bring his results, in his timing, in his way. 

And when God answers prayers, it's so overwhelming that our boats begin to sink.

Maybe you're enduring a storm that is never ending. The winds are raging and the waves are crashing and you find yourself in the middle of the lake. Miles from shore. Rowing and rowing. Your fear is rising with the waves. The danger is so near and you cannot seem to find escape from it. 

Maybe your life or your family or your marriage or your health or your finances seem in jeopardy. You're calling out, but no answer comes. And you feel alone.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. But now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 
John 6:16-18

Are things getting dark in your life? Does it feel as though Jesus has not yet joined you? A strong wind is blowing and the waters are growing rough. And, you are even a disciple. Who seeks to follow Jesus. But here you are--and you wonder where he is?

When they had rowed about three or four miles...(verse 19)

...is this YOU? You have rowed three or four miles. Who can count? Your muscles are sore. Your body aches. Your mind is fatigued. You are just tired. Because you are rowing and rowing and rowing to keep going...but the darkness and winds and waves are the only response to your prayers.

They saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water, and they were frightened. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." Then they were willing to take him into the boat...(verse 19b-20a)

Listen, if you are frightened and unsure and out of confidence, then follow what these disciples did in the middle of their storm.

Be willing to take Jesus into your boat. Even if it doesn't look like you had thought. Even if it feels scary. Even if the storms still rage.

Be willing to take Jesus into your boat. Into your circumstance. Into your pain. Into your struggle.

And know that this is the ultimate result:

...And immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (verse 20b)

Here's the thing. We find ourselves in the middle of a storm, smack dab in the middle of the lake, and safety and answers feel out of reach. 

But when we are willing to say, "Yes, Jesus. I'll take you into my boat. I'll keep looking to you," then in his timing and in his way, he can take us to the other shore in the blink of an eye.

Immediately.

Immediately, they were safe and reached the goal. 

That's what God is capable of doing. When we dare to trust him and keep trusting him.

When we are tired of asking...just plain tired. And our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, and we are basically wondering if there is any point in praying still, let's turn our attention here. To a lovely lady whom Jesus said answers our frustration of asking repeatedly.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said, "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea,'Grant me justice against my adversary.' For some time he refused. But finally, he said to himself,'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!"  And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly." 
Luke 18:1-8

When we grow tired of praying without an answer, let's be the widow. The persistent widow.  Because Jesus says we should always pray and not give up. 

Jesus' whole point in telling that parable was to remind his disciples (and us) to keep asking. Keep praying. Don't give up. Trust that, unlike this judge who didn't fear God or care about people, our Father does. Our God wants to bring justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night.

So keep wailing away. Keep asking and asking and asking.

When you are just at the end of your rope, in the waiting rooms in life, and nothing is moving forward--no answer is coming--then hang your every last shred of hope on this next passage, as well. 

Because last week, in my total Debbie Downer about my waiting room, Jesus faithfully brought me to the story of the disciples casting their nets through a blog I read, to the story of the widow as I read through Luke...and then to the following passage in Sunday's sermon.

Because that's how he does. When we are at the end of ourselves, then we can come to him. We can trust that he will make himself known when we need to see him.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:7-11

Listen, that is one of those verses where I tend to tune out because I've heard it so many times. Besides that it confuses me--because it sounds a bit like pulling up to the drive-through window. We place our order and then pull around to get what we've ordered. And I don't know about you--but that is NOT how life or prayer is working for me.

But, let's take another look.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
New Living Translation

There it is. A translation that frames it closer to the original language.

It's totally pointing us back to that determined widow. To that fishermen, working all night long. To the disciples rowing and rowing and rowing.

Keep on asking. Keep on seeking. Keep on knocking. 

And remember--sometimes what we receive feels like or looks like a stone or a snake to us. But we keep on asking and keep on seeking and keep on knocking, motivated by the truth of God's heart for us. 

In his perfect and loving ways toward his children, what he gives is ultimately bread and fish, even when we don't see it what way initially. And yes--sometimes the answer given is not the yes we want but rather a "not yet" or a "I have something else."

But if you are with me--just wondering when we can leave the waiting room, praying and praying and praying, with silence being the only response...then please raise your voice with me, according to the wisdom of my pastor.

Let's ask until our voice is hoarse.

Let's seek until we grow weary.

Let's knock until our knuckles bleed.

Let's be prayer warriors who are determined to battle until God's victory comes.

Because if we believe and seek to know the truest things about God, then we know that--

He will fill our empty nets.

He will get us to the other shore.

He will answer our persistent prayers.

He will throw open the doors to his most loving and precious and perfect plans that involve bread and fish, not stones and snakes.

I don't know about you, but it's the word I needed this last week. 

And so, every time my mind turns to my waiting and I feel that familiar tug of discouragement, I'm instead turning to pray this prayer.

"Lord, here I am again. And I'm going to ask until I'm hoarse. I'm going to seek until I'm weary. I'm going to knock until my knuckles bleed. Hear my prayer! Because I'm not going away. I'm in this thing until you give your loving answer."

Amen and amen. Bloody knuckles and all.

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