I am sitting in a room that I have not left for fifteen years.
I have memorized every piece of furniture here and know every crevice in the wall. I came into this room via many open doors but there remains a single one that holds my interest. It is closed. It is not traditionally beautiful but its rugged and splintered frame has a wondrous attraction for me. Each day I peek at it, both wondering what lies on the other side and checking to see if it has yet begun to open. You see, I know that I am supposed to cross that threshold but also realize that I must only do so at the right time.
One of the most difficult things in life is to believe you have been set aside for a great purpose and then to realize that the time to bring that mission to pass has not yet come.
I am a missionary kid. The years I spent on the field were truly amazing. While I was there, I had the opportunity to reach out to the hurting and to witness absolute transformations in people who had little hope. I went onto the field a missionary kid but I left a missionary. I still am one, although, for the past fifteen years, my appointed field is no longer a country but a room.
Upon my return to the States, I definitely felt the change. There was something that pulled at my heart throughout my teenage years and left me never feeling completely at home, even though everyone told me that that was where I was. I knew there was something more for me in life. I was convinced of it. I was prepared to stowaway on a ship and to sail from sea to shining sea at a moment’s notice. I was just waiting for God to call me. There was just one problem: I was only fifteen.
It took me years to begin to understand that at that moment I was lacking so much in education and experience that, even though He had a plan for me, I had not yet become the person who could bring that plan to pass.
The shoes were already there, ready for me to step into, but my feet were still much too small to fill them.
God, very slowly and very gently, brought this to my attention. He revealed to me the joy, peace, rest and even beauty in the waiting process.
And so I sat in the waiting room. I watched as friends graduated from high school and jumped into ministry and families right away. I asked God, “Is it time?” And God said, “Wait.”
And so I went on to university. After a few years of study I had gained some experience and maturity and I watched as several of my friends went on missions trips and began to pastor churches. Once again, I inquired of God, “Could my time be now?” Again came the gentle but dreaded answer, “Wait.”
And so I entered the workforce and went on to graduate school. As I studied literature, language and poststructural theory, I watched as my friends became AIM workers and missionaries. And I was happy for them. And my heart still ached but by this time I had learned that I need not question God; He brings about the answers and opens the doors in the fullness of His own time. And so I sat in the waiting room. And so still I wait.
I am now nearing the end of an advanced degree that has changed my life, combining the eagerness of my childhood with the analytical skills and perspective I have developed as the adult that God knew I needed to become. And I began to look around and see that this room with its mysterious door is not simply a waiting room: it is a training center.
I have been going to school for twenty-four years now (since kindergarten). I have learned to speak a few languages, have become comfortable with the art of analysis and have become well-versed in critical thought. I am so deeply grateful to the professors who have taken the time to educate me and to expand my mind. Their guidance has been truly invaluable to me. But my education goes so far beyond that.
I have learned that my God can supply all needs
because I have been in need. I then witnessed Him come through in ways I could not begin to imagine.
I have learned that God can take any situation and turn it around
because I have walked through those impossible valleys with no hope of seeing the sky. I watched in astonishment as His hands parted the clouds.
I have learned that God is my banner
because I have been weak and frail, beset with enemies so frightening that there seemed to be no way that victory would ever find this damsel in distress. God swept through my situation with power and might and made my enemies to cower.
I have learned that God is my comfort
because I have faced pain I never dreamed I could live through and have been pushed to the ends of both my sanity and my faith. I marveled as God spoke peace to my troubled heart and often carried me as I waded through the shattered dreams of my own making.
I have learned that God is my deliverer
because I have found myself tossed about, restless, yearning and feeling I had no way of escape. I rejoiced as I beheld the One who is called Faithful and True charge into my darkness and, with authority and might, lift me on wings of mercy.
And so I train in this training room. I began to take the lessons He taught me and to apply them to my life. It was then that He revealed to me yet another aspect of this beautiful place: this is an application room. It is where I take everything He has poured into me — loading me with experiences and education so that I will be equipped to handle both the trials and the victories that are to come — and begin to apply them to situations I face in this room so that will know how to face them when I leave.
Rather than longing to storm that door and to escape this place, I have learned to appreciate this room. I have learned that I am here for a purpose and am striving both to become everything I can be and to learn everything He has to teach me here. I want to make sure I pass any tests He gives me here with flying colors.
And so I wait, train and apply.
The door before me has not yet opened. At times I can catch a glimpse of the light that beckons from beneath that weathered door, teasing me with what lies beyond. Yet, for the moment, the hinges rest in their appointed position and the handle sleeps on. Like me, they await with bated breath that moment they will snap to attention and usher in that change in the atmosphere. I have no doubt that the door will open one day — I have come too far on this journey to doubt that God will come through — but for the moment I all I can see is the promise. I rest and hope in that.
This room, so familiar now, still has much to teach me. Every day I discover something new and am so grateful to have spent these fifteen years here. It is here that He daily loads me with blessings. Most of all, this room has shown me that, through all the hours of waiting, there has been Someone else in the room with me. That Someone has transformed me from a wide-eyed girl filled with dreams to a wide-eyed lady who has discovered that both faith and faithfulness are the keys to bringing those dreams to fruition.
In my journey to become that lady, I have learned that Jesus is a gentleman. And so, until my time comes, I will stay in this room, now precious and dear, and wait for Him to open the door.
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 edition of the Pentecotal Herald.