James 5:1 (KJV) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

God's Waiting Room, Part 1 of 3

"The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him." Lamentations 3:25

Do you wait well?

One of the most important and profound lessons I have learned as a Christian is how to wait.

I am not a naturally patient person. In fact, in my younger days, impatience was a hallmark of my nature. I am by nature an "action" person. I see a problem, decide on a course of action, and I want it done NOW. I set out immediately to get it accomplished. Grass never grew under my feet. This does not work well when one is dealing with the Lord because He requires you to act on His plan rather than on your own plan.

When you see how He works, you learn to love God's Waiting Room. And you learn that if you are willing to wait He leads you in a direction you never would have dreamed of on your own. I will give you two examples from my own experience.

I have played the piano since I was six years old. (I took violin lessons, too, but my dad made me quit those. He couldn't stand the noise.) Some time in the mid 1970s I was looking around to get involved in something new, and it wasn't happening. I was working full-time, had been involved in the pro-life movement, had almost completed a degree in Computer Systems Analysis going to night school, played the piano for First Baptist Church in Stockton, was involved with Concerned Women For America, and much more.

All of a sudden several of those activities wound down. And, after going through a university-wide computer conversion at my job as an accountant at UOP, and seeing the systems people being called in the middle of the night to come down and solve a problem, I decided that was not something I wanted to do. I quit my computer course just two classes short of that degree.

Now I had suddenly gained some blocks of time that I wanted to fill and began casting around for some new interest. Nothing emerged. Zip, zilch, nada.

It was around this time that I really began to take my Christian life very seriously, and so I began to pray about it. What was it that the Lord wanted me to do? I didn't realize it at the time, but I was about to spend my first spell in God's Waiting Room.

I have always loved to read but figured I could do more of that when I got 'old.' But, the Lord was able to get through to me that I needed to study. And so I became commited to have regular devotions -- prayer and Bible study. Now when I commit myself to something there's nothing in the world that's going to get in my way. And I threw myself into it with my characteristic zeal.

Not only did I have my scheduled devotions, but I found myself spending hour upon hour reading the Bible and studying commentaries. To my great amazement it turned out to be -- and still is -- the most absolutely fascinating thing I've ever done. I was seriously hooked on God's Word! The whole thing...Old and New Testaments. The first time through, some of it was a little tough, but slowly the Lord opened it up for me. I spent every spare minute in it.

I didn't even know it ... but I was in the Waiting Room. And I stayed there for a couple of years. I could have stayed forever.

One evening the phone rang and it was a man named Stan Dennis. He had heard of me through a mutual friend and wanted to know if I would be interested in playing piano for a traveling gospel group, The Crusaders. Well, I was completely honest and told him I would be thrilled to do that but I was positive that I was not the person they wanted, since everyone in the group played their instruments by ear, and I played strictly from written music. And yet he persisted. When I hung up I wondered how it had happened that I had agreed to go to just one practice and meet everyone. I knew it would be a waste of everyone's time and almost called him back and cancelled.

I didn't know it at the time, but the Lord had just opened the door of the Waiting Room and was calling me out.

The next week I showed up and met the four others in the group and proceeded to have the most frightening and humiliating scene in my life. It was awful. They gave me written words with chords written in by hand. I didn't have a clue what to do with it. It wasn't 'regular' music ... there were no notes ... I had never heard the songs before ... there was no 'time signature' telling the rhythm or beat ... and they began to sing and play their instruments. At some point I had the idea maybe we could record them doing the songs and I could work at home from the tape, so that is what we did.

Somehow the session ended. It was impossible to believe they actually wanted me to come back for another practice. I think this was the first time in my life that I had ever really failed at anything and I felt like a miserable failure. It was terrible. Unbearable.

Yet - somehow the indomitable spirit rose up in me and I was determined to work from those tapes and learn how to do this. After all, my name isn't Carole (Noel...Song) for nothing! I worked as if my life depended on it during that week, listening to those tapes probably hundreds of times and trying to work out the chords from the home-made music sheets and play along.

I didn't feel great about it by the time the next session rolled around but it was a challenge. I wasn't as good at the practice session as I thought I had been at home, but it was a cut above the week before. (It would have been impossible for it to have been worse.) Somehow we got through it, but I pressed upon them my offer to just back out. They refused to hear it. The third week was another cut above the second week.

I traveled with the Crusaders for over 15 years. We were gone almost every Sunday to churches throughout California. I had to stop playing for First Baptist. My son, Michael, was at that critical age of transition from adolescent to teen, and I was a single mom. He joined the group and we were able to do that wonderful Christian work together for several years. I composed all of the arrangements, learning to not only play by chord only, but learning how to turn the wonderful 'freedom from notes' into a personal expression of gratitude, through music, to that beautiful Holy Spirit who was teaching me Himself.

I went on to play for some fantastic choirs and with a contingent from the Stockton Symphony.

I never played the piano the same way again. The Lord had taken me and my gift and had transformed both.

It was several years later before I realized that I had been in God's Waiting Room, a room I have returned to often at His beck and call. A room I have come to love.

A Child of the King

" Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me." Micah 7:7

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