Waiting Room

waiting roomI think every church should have a Waiting Room.  I don’t mean like the ones in hospitals, clinics or offices; certainly not with Muzak and outdated magazines.  A Waiting Room — a place for people to go who are waiting for God to answer a prayer, to move in a situation, or ease a pain.  It would have to be an awfully big room, though, to fit us all in.  Hmm…maybe we should just use the sanctuary.  While we’re waiting, we could do a little worshipping, a little singing, share some burdens and lift each other up.  It’s better not to wait all alone anyway.  Since we’re all together, let’s have some coffee and doughnuts and visit awhile.  That’s the kind of waiting room I have in mind.  After all, we are all waiting for something, aren’t we?

There’s a lot of waiting going on in the book of Psalms. Those old Hebrew poets had a big advantage over us — they had a much wider choice of words at their disposal.  Our measly English word “wait” doesn’t come close to the array of expressions the psalm writers used.

For instance, one could wait expectantly.  It’s the picture of someone leaning forward, keeping an eye out and anticipating what is surely just around the corner.  (“Morning by morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”  Psalm 5:3)

There is hopeful waiting, which implies confidence combined with a sense that the answer may be down the road a ways.  What’s required here is sticking around long enough to see it through.  (“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20)

Of course, there is anxious waiting, which is the one we probably practice most.  This is a whirling, trembling, worry-filled type — you know the kind.  It takes all of your energy and leaves you exhausted.  (“Be quiet before Yahweh and wait for him.  Do not fret…”  Psalm 37:7)

And then there is a special Hebrew word for when the waiting is especially long.  It means to have patient endurance, to linger before God with all the pain exposed, to depend on Him alone.  Sometimes this kind of waiting goes on for years until the longed for answer comes.  (“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1)

Waiting is part of God’s plan.  He sits by us in the Waiting Room, takes our hands and says, “I will wait with you.”

“Lord, I wait for you;  you will answer, Lord my God.”  Psalm 38:15

Rewriting the Psalms

I love the book of Psalms.  It’s the first place I turn when I am sad, burdened and in need of comfort.  Sometimes I go to familiar verses, the ones I can count on time after time to express exactly how I am feeling.  Sometimes I am surprised by a new thought that never occured to me in a new verse I’d never noticed before.

In an effort to really understand the depth of these beautiful writings, I decided to rewrite the Psalms.  The Book of Psalms According to Dinah.  Phrase by phrase, I had to think about each word and how I would express the same thought.   For instance,  Psalm 30:1-5 says,

“I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.  O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.  O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.  Sing to the Lord,  you saints of his; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  NIV

Now the DPR version (Dinah’s Personal Rendition):  “Because You lifted me up out of the hole I was in and kept others from kicking me when I was down, I will now hold You up for all to see.  Here’s how it happened: I cried ‘help’ and You made it all better.  Honestly, Lord, it’s like being buried alive and having someone dig you up just in time.  This calls for some singing and praising, everybody!  God may show a flash of anger from time to time, but what rules the day is His loving acceptance.  I can cry a river at night, but as sure as the sunrise, things will look better in the morning.”

I hope David doesn’t mind me putting my own twist on his poems.  I’m not attempting to change them, just relate on a deeper level.  Just trying to get into the psalm writer’s head and get the ancient words into my heart.