Waiting room time is unique. It's as if you've been suddenly stranded on a desert island, far away from ordinary life. You're surrounded by strangers, men, women, and children from every race, every walk of life, everyone with tense faces, on the phone or texting or staring into space or getting up to check their loved one's case number on the board to see if he or she is in pre-op, surgery, or post-op. Everyone in the room knows that after this surgery life may never be the same - for the one in surgery, for the ones in the waiting room. A surgeon's face, voice, message, decides the future: sickness or health, even life or death, for a loved one.
I sat quietly at first, my husband and I praying for our daughter Mary Beth. Then my prayer wandered, lightly touching each person around me, traveling into the operating rooms to touch the various doctors and nurses, then traveling up the elevator to the patients' rooms and nurses' stations throughout the busy beehive that's Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. Once again I felt profoundly grateful for our medical personnel, for those who've been given the gift of healing by the Holy Spirit and who use that gift for others so generously.
l talked with our son-in-law Mike and his two sisters Angela and Debbie and our son Paul Jr. I watched them talk with each other and realized that one of the unnoticed blessings of waiting room time is that people who have willingly taken the time to be on this desert island with each other have been given the opportunity to be really present to each other, perhaps even to express deeper feelings of love and understanding than they do in ordinary circumstances.
Life on this earth is a waiting room. We rarely mentally live in the present. We're trapped in the fall-out from past experiences, waiting for MORE fall-out from the past, or we're frozen in fear of the future, waiting for whatever awful thing will happen next. Yet Faith tells us that God is the Eternal Now, eternally Present TO us and FOR us.
God is the One Who was given to us through our ancestors in faith. He has led us safely through our past, guiding our way through immaturity, insecurity, and sins, protecting us from evil. He is the One Who walks with us now, steadying our footsteps when they falter, strengthening us in our pain. He is the One Who is leading all creation, which groans in the pain of present suffering, into the New Creation - the wondrous moment when God promises to make everyone and everything fresh, eternal, new.
Faith is full of Hope, because we know as we go into the future that, when we arrive there, our faithful God will be waiting there to welcome us. Life ultimately is the Waiting Room for eternal life.
After Mary Beth's surgery, after the Doctor told us how well the surgery went, I went to her room where she lay smiling, and, kissing her, felt in a rush as if I saw and kissed her for the first time, that she'd been given to us all over again.
And I knew that if only we waited in life's waiting room more consciously, recognizing both the fragility of life and also God's provision for the future ahead, we would always see each other clearly as the God-given gifts we are for each other. See clearly our God-given opportunities for deeper connections with others, deeper expressions of love and understanding. Life's desert island can, with Faith, bloom with the fruits and flowers of everlasting love.