Oh, Waiter!

2438-12276The other night, Brad and I went out to dinner for a date night. We were starving so we opted to go somewhere easy, close and quick, albeit not nearly as exciting as some other options that make up the extraordinary cuisine of Philadelphia.

When we arrived at our restaurant, we were shocked and disappointed to discover that our quick fall-back was everyone else’s fall-back that night and there was a forty minute wait for our little party of two. We left, knowing it wasn’t worth it and fearing we might start to eat our elbows in the interim. We found a new fall-back that surpassed our expectations and most importantly, had no wait, and enjoyed a great night together.

A few weeks before that, we had an out-of-town friend visiting us for a weekend and we wanted him to experience one of the magnificent brunch locales that are available in the city. We took him to one of our favorites, even though we knew it was going to be close to an hour wait with all three of our small children. We found ways to entertain them and make it work because we were confident that it would be worth it. And it was. Three words: Cannoli French Toast.

When we’re facing any kind of waiting season, there are two primary questions that must be answered:

  1. How long is it going to be?
  2. Is it going to be worth it?

While it may be a fairly straight-forward decision when you’re choosing a restaurant, it rarely is as clear when you’re in the midst of a waiting season in life.

When am I going to have that baby?

When am I going to find that job?

When am I going to meet my Someone and get married?

In these sorts of scenarios, we seldom know the answer to the first question. Wouldn’t it be great if we did? “Welcome to your life, Leah. You will be seated at your dream job in approximately three months.”

Although a defined answer to the first question is rare, if you’re waiting on a God-given dream, you can be confident of the second. It will be worth it.

When we’re being obedient to God, following His directives, making choices that honor Him, and pursuing Him with all our hearts, and we still find that we’re in the middle of a waiting season, it can feel so frustrating. There’s this compulsion to figure out what we’re doing “wrong” just so we can fix it and move on.

There might not be anything wrong, per se. Things are just not ready yet. Cannoli French Toast takes some time.

And yet, even if my brain understands that, my heart still hates waiting seasons. They feel so long and so difficult and well, so boring. It feels as if I’ve been put in some cosmic time-out, forced to sit still and think about what I’ve done or what I’m going to do until some magical time, when God decides I’ve learned my lesson and I can move on with the happy dream He’s given me.

In the middle of one such season, God gave me a picture that has revolutionized my perspective on waiting. I looked up the word “wait” in my Bible dictionary, and the definition expressed a sense of anticipation, or as dictionary.com puts it, “to continue as one is in expectation of.”

My mind went to yet another restaurant analogy (because apparently I’m obsessed with food) and I thought of the people who serve our food, or as we commonly refer to them . . . waiters.

I laughed. Their job is literally waiting all the time.

Except anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant business knows that being a waiter is anything but boring: the fast-paced demands of a busy kitchen, a constant flow of customers, remembering each unique order. A waiter can make or break your eating experience.

I was inspired. If I’m going to be in a waiting season, well, dagnabbit, I’m going to be the best waitress I can be. Instead of spending my time with Jesus sulking in a chair, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for something to happen, I would approach it as if He were my customer for the day, and wait on Him accordingly.

“Good morning, Jesus. What can I do for you today? Where should I go? Who do I need to call or help or meet? What’s on the menu today?”

Sometimes He would direct me towards something or someone.  Often, however, He would just encourage me to sit down at the table with Him. Talk. Listen.

And when He would finally call my name and tell me that my new season was ready, I realized that I wasn’t waiting for my Cannoli-French-Toast-Dream to be ready at all. My Dream was waiting for me.

I was not the same person that I was when I started my waitressing job the weeks, months, or years prior. In the process of waiting for God, He had changed me. Refined me.

Was the job difficult? Yes.

Painful? At times.

But worth it? Most definitely worth it.

Remind me of that when I’m in the middle of my next waiting season.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27.14)