Today I spent nearly three hours standing in line at an office that was trying to service too many people. We waited in single file along the wall of a long, narrow corridor, hoping to be heard.
When I arrived, I asked another line-stander how long he’d been there. “Two hours so far,” he said.
The young student in front of me was a guy I’d seen 24 floors down at the lobby security check. I’d been ahead of him in that line, but somehow he’d gotten to the new line ahead of me. I berated myself for wasting 30 seconds finding the right elevator.
So we waited. A man with a cane (complaining loudly) was finally given a chair, but a second complainer was told to sit on the floor.
When a man arrived with a little girl Skylar’s age, I knew they’d never make it. She’d brought a pink back-pack full of activities, and he’d filled his pocket with candy. But after 90 minutes they’d run through their entertainment and gave up, ducking under the ribbon “fence” and heading home.
Although it was frustrating to wait in my poorly chosen shoes, the people-watching was fascinating. Each new arrival began by asking the official at the head of the line, “Where do I go to talk to someone about my problem?”
And to each person he’d say, “Get in line,” while pointing a finger in our direction. Mouths dropped open and objections were made. “I’ve got to get this done on my lunch hour!” (Chuckle, chuckle and another point to the end of the line.)
Or, “This is my day off. If I don’t get it done today, I’ll have to wait a whole week!” (Chuckle, point.)
When the clock inched toward closing time, the representative arrived to knock off most of the waiting line. “We won’t get to any of you people today,” she said, sweeping her hand over most of those waiting. Their groans rose up in unison.
I was third-to-last, grateful I could continue to wait. Sadly, at the end of the meeting, my advisor couldn’t help except to suggest several other offices with new lines to stand in.
Today’s waiting ordeal was a perfect picture of why we have trouble waiting on God. Just as the authorities wouldn’t let us even look into the room where we hoped to go, God doesn’t let us see our future or the details of how our prayers will be answered. And just as we had no idea how long our wait would be, the Lord doesn’t clue us into how long our troubles will last. And just as the office personnel had all the power today and we had none, God is sovereign over the events of our lives. And just as we grew uncomfortable as the hours passed, waiting for the Lord can become downright painful.
When the waiting ordeal was over and I finally got back to my car, I vented to Jack, who had been waiting, too. He wagged his tail as if to say, “Welcome to my world.”
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)