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STANDING AT AN EMPTY TABLE
by Lygia Lovelace

 

 

What are you waiting for?

 

Chase has been waiting for his 14th birthday. He began talking about it a month ago. He made a birthday list and has even been planning where he wants to go on his special night.

 

After pneumonia and then bronchitis, I have been waiting to get well. These past few weeks I haven't even had a voice! That's been frustrating. Every afternoon the kids and I are accustomed to sitting on the bed together while I read aloud. We love this time! Currently we have been reading about George Mueller, and we have also been reading a fun fantasy series of books about little people called the borrowers who live under the floors of peoples' homes. Lately, I can barely make it through one chapter before my voice becomes inaudible and I have to stop.

 

Emalee, one of our little African twins, has been waiting to get her cast removed. Several weeks ago she was climbing the ladder to get up to the slide on our playground and fell off. She landed on the right side of her face, her shoulder and her right arm. Something just didn't look right as we cleaned her up from her fall. Her right arm and hand dangled oddly. We took her to the emergency room of a nearby hospital.

 

As we walked down the hall of the hospital to take an x-ray of her arm, she looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, are my bones black, like my skin?"

 

After showing her the x-ray of her arm (which indeed showed a broken wrist), the doctor explained to her, "See, Emalee, on the outside we look different from each other, but on the inside -- we all look basically the same…"

 

Emalee's like that…a deep thinker. She's only four years old, and she is extremely emotional. She's willful at times and quite insecure in crowds. But she thinks about things. She's asked me many good questions -- about the planets, the sun, different races, God, Jesus on the cross, bugs, stories from the Bible, Africa, and so on.

 

She chose a blue cast and wore it proudly. Then, as the week progressed, she forgot about it. She reached into our little plastic swimming pool with her right arm to retrieve a toy. Have you ever seen a cast get wet? It begins to disintegrate from the inside out. It peels and chips and unravels until there's nothing left but scrap cloth and powdery residue, leaving the wound exposed…

 

Now she wears a yellow, water-proofed, cast. In a few weeks, she will have the cast removed.

 

It has been frustrating for her, wearing a cast. She can't do puzzles as well as she used to, or color. She can't climb or play on the playground. Not yet.

 

She's still waiting.

 

Grayson has been waiting for orchestra to start. She plays violin and has never played with a group before. This will be a new experience for her.

 

Brooklyn has been waiting for college to start.

 

Ken and I have been waiting for our house in Texas to sell (and waiting…and waiting…)…! Oh what a relief it will be to have that situation behind us! We've prayed and prayed, truly seeking God's will in this adventure, but nothing is happening.

 

Elijah has been waiting for late fall or early winter, when the bees will go away. He is allergic to bee stings. He's been stung three times this summer already! When he is stung, the area swells unbearably, nearby lymph nodes swell, his eyes become swollen, croup sets in, and he's irritable for several days. This last time he was stung, almost all of the kids were playing in the backyard.

 

Elijah told me later, as I was icing his hand, "Mom, that bee came right at me! He looked at all the kids standing around and stopped when he got to me! Then he zoomed right in on me!"

 

Now, and understandably so, when he sees a bee in the yard, Elijah screams and runs the other way. He can't wait until bee season is over!

 

Last week in an article entitled Prayers in an Empty Elevator, I wrote about becoming more focused in prayer. What are you praying for? Are you keeping the "main thing the main thing"? It is God's will that we mature in our prayer lives -- getting to know Him better and becoming wiser with our requests, actually praying, in Jesus' Name.

 

But isn't it true that sometimes we must also just wait on Him? We are truly living for Christ, we are meditating on His Word, we are praying to the best of our knowledge -- which can indeed at times be limited -- yet we are truly seeking Him! But nothing is happening in our prayers.

 

I've seen this in my own life and also in other Christians around me. Have you experienced this?

 

"I've been praying for years! I took my children to church -- my husband came too -- but now, they don't seem to care. I don't know what else to do. Why don't my prayers seem to matter…?"

 

"Over the years, I've begged God to save him. Why is there never any evidence of change?"

 

"What good does it do to pray over this illness I have? I still have the pain; I still have to endure it...God just doesn't seem to care."

 

"I've been unemployed forever. God just doesn't want to see me succeed! I've prayed and prayed, so why isn't there a job out there for me?"

 

How do you answer questions like this? I like what Stormie O'Martian says in her book The Power of a Praying Life:

 

"If you have prayed about something and you haven't seen an answer yet, remember that prayer is not telling God what to do. Prayer is telling God what you want Him to do and then putting it in His hands and waiting on Him to do what He wants."1

 

Even though I have not been able to read aloud to the kids much this week, I haven't been able to put the book about George Mueller down...yet…admittedly at the same time, I have been so convicted by his life that I have been tempted to put the book away! After reading about a life like his, I know I have such little faith! I am ashamed. I am humbled.

 

Do you know about Mr. Mueller?

 

He lived in the 1800's and didn't come to Christ until the age of twenty.

 

He lived a life of complete faith in God. He cared for over 100,000 orphans in his lifetime, building a group or orphanages and providing completely for them. He preached more than three times per week, and worked tirelessly and joyfully. Yet he received no regular income. He refused it! He relied completely on God to provide for the needs of his family and the needs of the thousands of orphans in his care.

 

He lost two wives and four children (one of them a little boy named Elijah…), and he only saw one child -- a little girl named Lydia -- grow to adulthood.

 

He trusted in God implicitly. He influenced many, many, MANY lives for Christ.

 

At 71 years of age, Mueller wrote some wise advice to younger believers.

 

"It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man…consider it and ponder over it. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible…I have (now) read through the whole Bible at least 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy increased more and more."2

 

Do you read? Are you nourished daily? Mueller claimed that he read the Bible five or ten times more than he read any other book. And he didn't just read it, he truly studied the Word…

 

"….not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts."3

 

Have you, in your study of God's Word, ever done a "waiting study"? So many people of God, throughout the Scriptures, were called to wait on Him! This study has been so good for me in my struggle with waiting.

 

Just to name a few -- Job waited on the Lord, and suffered while waiting. David waited on his kingdom. Abraham waited on many things, including a home and a son. Paul waited, though intensely called by God, to begin his ministry. Hannah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Manoah's wife waited on babies. Mary and Martha waited, while their brother Lazarus waited in the grave.

 

Just this morning, I read about Aeneas in Acts 9. He waited 8 years -- he was bedridden and paralyzed -- for physical healing in his life.

 

Why?

 

God's sovereignty, God's will, God's teaching...God's best.

 

The story is told of how Mueller and his orphans were one day completely without food. Mr. Mueller had prayed faithfully one night, knowing that the pantries were empty and that the countless orphans would have no breakfast the following morning. Soundly, he committed this need to the Lord, and then he promptly went to sleep.

 

The next morning, the orphans were called to the tables as usual. Empty plates and cups were there, before the children.

 

"Dear Father," Mr. Mueller prayed, "we thank you for what you are going to give us to eat this morning."

 

Then Mueller continued. "Children, let us remain standing in silence at our places until God provides our food."

 

Not long after, a man in working clothes appeared at the door.

 

"Mr. Mueller? I'm the baker in Bristol, and last night I couldn't sleep. Somehow, I felt you might not have enough bread for breakfast, and the good Lord wanted me to send you some. So, I got up at two o'clock and baked some fresh bread and have brought it…"

 

A few moments later, another man, a milkman, entered.

 

"Mr. Mueller? I was on my way to town with all these cans of milk when my wheel broke just outside your gate. I have to get the weight off my wagon to repair it, but I don't want to dump all that fresh milk in the ditch. Do you think the orphanage could use any of it?"4

 

Plenty to eat! Praise God Almighty! Breakfast was prepared by the hand of God. Lunch was yet to come.

 

Are you a child of God? Are you waiting?

 

Waiting is inevitable. Waiting is necessary. Waiting is learning. Waiting is a privilege.

 

Stand at your empty table.

 

He is worth the wait. Lunch is yet to come.

 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are our ways My ways," says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall my Word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands!"
Isaiah 55:8-12

 

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:14

________________
1Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Life
2John Piper @ www.desiringGod.org
3Ibid.
4Taken from Dave & Neta Jackson, The Bandit of Ashley Downs.


 

 

 

Copyright © 2010. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights reserved. KenLovelaceMinistries.com

 



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