Make Room – The Waiting Room

Make Room – The Waiting Room

That song, “O Come Emmanuel” is very different than most Christmas Carols. Most carols have
their upbeat, celebratory feel– “We wish you a merry Christmas” or “Joy to the World” or my dog’s
favorite, “Bark the Herald Angels sing.” Actually it’s “Hark, the Herald Angels sing”. Most Carols are upbeat, celebratory, but O Come Emmanuel is more somber—as that said, it
came from 8 th or 9 th century monasteries, which explains a lot. But it’s also a very realistic Carol. It’s
about the Hope–even in the midst of life’s troubles, disappointments, and waiting on God’s timing. It
comes from a passage in Matthew, when an Angel came to Joseph in a dream. We aren’t told which angel,
probably not Harold, the Harking Angel (because there is no angel Harold, just Herald
Angels—confused?). Anyway, an undisclosed Angel tells Joseph “good news and bad news” Good
news—Mary your Fiancé is pregnant, you’re gonna have a son and name him Jesus. Bad News—the
child’s not yours. But don’t divorce her, this is God’s plan. Then it says,  “ All of this occurred to fulfill
the Lord’s message through his prophet [Isaiah]: 23  “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will
give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:22-
That’s what the Carol is about – Immanuel—God with us. God is with us, even in the
disappointments. God is with us in the trials. God is with us in the waiting. God is with you—right now.
And yet, there’s still a longing for more: “Come oh Come Emmanuel” – He is “here but not yet fully”.
Jesus is with us, now, by his Holy Spirit. Yet we look forward to more—he will one day fully rule and
make things right. But until then, we sometimes have to Wait. As we lead to Chrstimas, we’re talk about
Making Room for God, today I want to talk about the Waiting Room. Have you ever had to wait on God?
Maybe you’re single, and you’ve been waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right—waiting for God to bring that
right person, but it’s been a long wait, and now you’re thinking maybe Mr. or Ms. “Not-So-Terribly-Bad”
will do. You’re tired of doing things God’s way, His Matchmaker abilities feel lacking—maybe that’s
what got you to church, you came to Dateway (I mean Gateway) for that reason. What do you do when
you have to wait? When God’s not coming through in Your timing?
Maybe you’re married, and it feels like those embers of love are dying out, there’s no spark,
you’re having difficulties getting along—and it’s been 2 years—do you throw in the towel? What do you
do? Why doesn’t God fix it? What’s he doing? And how long do you wait on God to do something?
These are tough questions—the waiting room is a challenging place to be.
Maybe you have a son or daughter straying from God and rebelling against you—you’re praying,
you’re waiting on God to do something. But he doesn’t seem to act. What do you do in the Waiting?
Or in your struggling business—You’re trying to honor God and do things right, but you’re getting
tempted to cut some ethical corners like your competition is doing, because You’ve been waiting on God
to honor your desire to follow him, but things haven’t turned around yet.
What are you Waiting for? There are many times in life where we have to decide, will I wait on
God’s timing, doing what I think He wants me to do, or will I take matters into my own hands and make it
happen my way? That’s what we’re talking about today—what do you do in the Waiting Room? No one
likes to wait, but what I’ve seen in my 35 years of ministry is that the Waiting has a purpose—God is
doing something for your benefit through the Waiting that can’t be done any other way. And if you’re
going to follow Jesus, you’re going to spend some time in the Waiting Room. Because as I’ve seen in
Scripture and my faith Journey
God’s the 11:59 God – That first Christmas, there was a man, Simeon, who had faithfully served
and followed God. We don’t know a lot about him except that he was very old, and he was righteous and
faithful to God, and it says he had been waiting on God to send the Messiah. In fact it says The Holy
Spirit had promised him, “You will not die until you see the Messiah’s coming.” Eight days after Jesus
birth, he was circumcised, and then according to the Law of Moses, his parents took him to Jerusalem to
dedicate him to the Lord. Let’s read: 25  At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He

was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The
Holy Spirit was upon him   and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the
Lord’s Messiah.  27  That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to
present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,  28  Simeon was there. He took the child in his
arms and praised God, saying, 29  “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have
promised. 30  I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to
reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” 33  Jesus’ parents were amazed
at what was being said about him.  34  Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s
mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been
sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him.  35  As a result, the deepest thoughts of many
hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” 36  Anna, a prophet, was also there
in the Temple…she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed
there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.  38  She came along just as Simeon was
talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone
who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
These two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, had both been waiting on God. Waiting on him to
send his long-promised Messiah. Waiting on him to change their situation and rescue Jerusalem from their
Roman oppressors. And they saw God’s Promise in Jesus and praised God. But a couple of things stand
out to me. First, Simeon was devout it says—meaning he studied the Law and Prophets, the Old
Testament, so he knew the prophecies of the Messiah—he quotes parts of Isaiah 42 that says “Look at
my servant [Messiah]…I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations… and I
will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to
guide the nations. 7  You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison…”
Isaiah 42:1, 6-7. But he also must have known Isaiah 53, that foretells of the Messiah’s suffering and he
warns Mary—He has come to reveal what’s in people’s hearts (remember that), and so many rise, but also
many will oppose him, and a sword will pierce your very soul, Mary.
Here we see something about God that most of us don’t like—He doesn’t do things our way. I’m
sure Mary didn’t want to hear that one day grief would pierce her soul, watching Jesus fulfill Isaiah 53,
“But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was
whipped so we could be healed.” His plan to overcome evil was very different than what we would have
directed God to do. Anna and others were waiting for the Messiah, but waiting for what? It said waiting
for God to rescue Jerusalem. But that’s not what Jesus came to do—to change a government—he came to
change a human heart, then another, then another—because that’s the solution to the world’s problems,
not another regime change (we should remember that in 2024).
And that’s why God sometimes makes us wait, and wait, and wait. I have no doubt that Simeon
was a faithful man, and probably early in his life of devotion to God, studying the prophets the Holy Spirit
promised him—“You will not die until you see the promised Messiah.” We don’t know exactly when this
promise came, but I bet he had to wait. Because now he’s an old man, and finally he gets the prompting
to go to the Temple, and he sees the baby and says “Now, Lord—now finally I can die in peace—I have
seen your salvation as you promised.” You can tell he’s been waiting for this—waiting on God. And God
waited until he was very old—why?
Because He’s the 11:59 God. I don’t like this about him, I would change it if I could, but I don’t
get that option—He’s God, I’m not. But If you and I are going to follow God, we have to understand this
about him. He likes to wait to the last minute. If you need God to come through by midnight, he’ll come
through at 11:59. And the waiting is excruciating. But He does come through—and it’s always better than
if you’d forced it your own way. If you choose to wait in trust, you’ll see He’s faithful. If you never wait,
but take shortcuts, you’ll never see that God’s ways are better.
I’ve had many examples over the decades, where I had wait on God. When I was single, I had
started following Christ, and I learned that he wanted me to honor women, not use women, and to focus
on emotional and spiritual intimacy, and save sex for the commitment of marriage. And decided to follow

him in that, and I started praying for God to lead me and my future wife to each other when He knew we
were both ready. But I asked him, “Could it be in the next 2 years?” And waiting was hard—I had dated
several really great women, but because the foundation was friendship and emotional and spiritual
intimacy, when we realized it wasn’t long term, we stayed friends. It wasn’t awkward. And I’m really glad
because my roommate, for some insane reason, decided to throw a surprise birthday party for me—and he
invited every woman I’d gone out with those 2 years, himself and one other guy—I think he was fishing.
It was awkward, but could have been much worse. So two years rolls around, and I’m disappointed that
God has not answered my prayer. I knew it wasn’t a promise he’d made to me, but still. And that was the
very season God was leading me to leave engineering in Santa Barbara and go into ministry, but I had this
horrible fear that if I went into ministry, I’d never meet someone I’d want to marry who would want to
marry me—honest truth. So I wrestled with God over that until He showed me—I was putting my hope
in my ability to find the right person, and I could search forever and not find her—or I could trust that He
could in His timing. So I took the step of faith, left engineering, went into ministry and because of that—I
had to go to Houston for 3 months. My first day in Houston, I met Kathy—and we dated those 3
months—which happened to be right after that 2 year mark I’d prayed for. We got married 15 months
Several years later, Kathy and I are both in ministry, and the Soviet Union’s walls come down. We
were asked to lead a team of 10 students on a 1 year mission, teaching the Bible on college campuses,
because after 70 years of state-mandated atheism, they were dying to learn. As we prayed together, we felt
like God wanted us to do this, but we had 3 barriers (really 2 barriers and 1 desire). First barrier, we
didn’t have the money. Second barrier, Kathy had been having horrific migraines that lasted 10 to 20 days
at a time. So we said, “Lord, we will step out in faith and say “Yes, we’ll go” and we’re asking you to
provide the funds and relief from these migraines if this is Your leading. And Desire—we love our
Condo, so could you make a way for us to keep it by subletting it? Over the next six months, we prayed
for these things, prepared to go trusting God to make a way, and we got our small group praying as well.
About 3-4 months in, Kathy’s doctor changed her birth control, and the migraines stopped and didn’t
come back while we were in Russia. With about 2 months to go, we still did not have the money and
wondered if we’d have to back out, when one of our team members called to say “I just got an inheritance
from a Great Aunt I was not expecdting, and it will cover my expenses and yours for the year.” We were
blown away. The last month, we were committed to going, but it looked like we’d have to give up our
Condo—but we were prepared to do that, but still praying. We shared with our Small Group that week all
the ways God had come through, but told them we will probably lose our Condo unless we find a
subletter right away. That week, a person in our small group was at the University copy machine, and saw
a Wanted Sign—I still have it “Professor and his wife coming on sabbatical, need a 2 bedroom condo (our
exact condo), August to June (the exact months we’d be gone).” We subletted it sight unseen, at 11:59.
God loves to do this—He loves to make us wait, then comes through at 11:59. I don’t like that,
but He obviously does. [when starting church—please don’t do the 11:59 thing]. And if you’re like
Simeon and you devoutly study His Word, he’s told us this. Think about Abraham and Sarah. They’re
unable to have children, but then Yahweh comes and promises they will have a son and a great nation will
come from him, and that nation will bless all nations on earth (Genesis 12). God promises them a son if
they’ll go to the land of Palestine. They do…and then…NOTHING. It’s easy to see how the story
resolves looking back, but imagine 1 year passing—no child, 2 years, then 3,4,5. And it’s not like God
said, “Just wait, be patient”…probably just silence—like we often feel. And after 10 years, they lose
hope in God. They lose trust in God. They take matters into their own hands and use adultery as a means
to get the result. They took a shortcut. And it was a HUGE mistake—caused generational strife between
the son God promised and the son of Abraham’s adultery. But God did come through, just as He
promised, but not in Abraham’s timing. But this leads to the first lesson when Waiting on God:
If God Promised, Trust Him–Don’t Compromise. Paul tells us of all these Biblical stories,
These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at
the end of the age. 12  If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13  The temptations in

your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the
temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so
that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:11-13. Endure—so we can endure, and stay faithful, while
waiting on God. We all have to wait—the question—when things aren’t going as we hoped, expected, or
maybe even it seems God promised. What will we hold onto for hope in the waiting? Will our hope and
trust be first in that thing we hope for? The spouse, the job, the financial bailout, the teenager’s heart
changing, the marriage healing. Or will our hope and trust be first in God? Will we get rebellious and turn
to our own ways, our own means to make it happen if it doesn’t happen in our timing? See this leads to
the second lesson in the Waiting Room.
God’s Working on Who You Are- Why does God make us wait—is he just a sadist? Is he mean
or likes to watch us struggle with anxiety? No—none of that is true. He gives many promises of scripture
to the contrary. God cares about you and me more than we care about ourselves. Because often we settle
for outward, circumstantial props to hold us up, but God wants to strengthen us from within so we are
truly strong—not dependent on how the fleeting circumstances of life behave.
When God led Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, and back to the Promised Land, it
says he didn’t take them there by the direct route. God did not lead them along the main road that runs
through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God
said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to
Egypt.”  18  So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.
Exodus 13:17-18 Sometimes, God takes us on a roundabout way to get to the good things He wants to
give us. Why? Because he knows our hearts, our souls, need strengthening. The shortcut may get you
there faster, but God is not as concerned with where we are going as he is about Who we will be when we
get there. Let me say that another way, because it’s the key to waiting on God: God is not nearly as
concerned with where I am, what job I get, my financial situation, or relationship I get into as he is with
who I am becoming along the way. So God makes us wait—he takes us the roundabout way sometimes,
because in not getting what we want when we want it, we learn character. We learn faithfulness. We
learn to trust. And the result is we become stronger within—less dependent on outward circumstances or
what others do.
If I went to our Kids church to our 4 and 5 year old kids with a huge bag of candy, held it in front
of them, and were able to quiet them down from saying “Can I have some, can I have some” enough to
ask. Which do you want, you can have all this candy right now. Or, if you can wait four weeks, I’ll take
you to Toys R US and buy you whatever you want. Which do you think they’d choose? The Candy – it’s
right there for the taking, and they haven’t matured in temperance (which is the ability to wait, to say “no”
to a good thing to receive something better later). They haven’t matured enough to be able to control their
immediate desires in order to gain something better down the road. That’s the same spiritual quality that
we must continually develop, and God develops it in the Waiting Room.
Ultimately, God Wants Your Heart. Why would God do this—make people wait? He told Moses
why …to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would
keep his commands. Deuteronomy 8:2. God is good, and He has good things planned for you. He
wants your best self to emerge. But He created you for relationship with himself—so anything short of a
growing relationship with the One who loves you most, is selling yourself short. So one of the main
things God is doing in the Waiting Room is testing your heart—asking “Do you love me? Then Trust me.”
Do I really love God? Do I really love God for God, or do I just love him for doing what I want,
when I want? Do I really love God for God, or do I just love him when circumstances are good? Do I
really love God because he is wonderful beyond all imagining and because he is my Father who sent
Jesus to die on the cross in my place? Or do I just love his blessings? Do I really love God, or am I just
trying to use God? The waiting is where God gets to peek into our hearts to see what’s really there—and
it’s where we see it too. Jesus would reveal the hearts of people, Simeon said. So in the Waiting—trust
Him. He’s Emmanuel—He’s with you, especially in the waiting—so turn to Him, put your hope in him,

not in that thing you’re praying for, and right before midnight, he’ll come through. You’ll see how loving
and kind he is. PRAY

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