I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
– Psalms 27:13-14
If I am blessed with my wife feeling good all week long, I get to wait in the Cardiac Waiting Room at the hospital three times each week. In one direction from the waiting room, people have stress tests. Just one room in the opposite direction, there is the cardiac rehabilitation room, a hospital wing with countless treadmills. The chauffeurs get to wait in the waiting room.
The Psalm of David above says that we should wait, but I have a problem with waiting. From before I ever managed my first project, I had a project manager mindset.
I became an Eagle Scout, because I had a long list of objective-based things to do. The only subjective item was the Eagle service project. Was it worthy of an Eagle Scout? I have seen many Eagles in recent years who had service projects that would not have passed the scrutiny of mine. But, other than the worthiness of the project, the rest was doing “A”, then “B”, then “C”. And on and on.
I completed chemical engineering school as the top in the class while also getting my commission as an Army officer in four years, while others were taking 5 or 6 years. This was another step by step process. I even included a few electives along the way for the fun of learning something new. The semester overloads were not fun.
Then, I entered a very subjective work environment and my plans all fell apart. I became more and more irritated by having to wait. Since things suddenly became subjective, I had no clue whether waiting would have the desired result.
My time in the Army should have taught me to handle waiting, but it just caused further irritation. One of the military’s unofficial mottos is “Hurry up and Wait.” One of my first duties, as assigned, was as the company’s postal officer. Each day, I went to the mail room to ensure that the clerk in charge of the mail did his duties properly. I then stepped outside the mail room to find 150 plus enlisted standing in line, waiting for the top half of the Dutch door to swing open. My first day with the duty, a sergeant, who was near the front of the line, yelled, “Sir, rank has its privileges. There’s a place at the back of the line with your name on it.” After about a week of that duty, I refused to wait in line. I had the clerk bring me my mail after he handed out the rest. Instead of waiting, I went back to work.
The driving force in my life was always multi-tasking. Leave no second without accomplishment. Waiting, in my mind, was wasting time.
My wife can attest to this. We go to the early bird cinema showings after the movie has been out for a couple of weeks. Why? The lines waiting for tickets are shorter. We do not go grocery shopping on certain days, because the lines are longer on those days. By lines, I mean the queue for those who use that term instead. Being in the Army in Germany taught us to Christmas shop in October, because that is when the Post Exchange opened its toy store wing. But, we still try to have everything purchased before Black Friday to avoid the crowds and the lines at the checkout. Of course, the media blitz by the toy companies start after the Thanksgiving holidays (in the US on the fourth Thursday of November) to advertise that Got-To-Have toy for Christmas. (Satan lives on Madison Avenue.) Even then, we’d go in the middle of the day on a work day to find it. I hate waiting in the line (or queue).
Now we come to the waiting room at the hospital. The spouses, or drivers, of those going to cardiac rehab know each other, sort of. We nod. We say, “Hi.” I know one lady cooks for her church, a lot. But mostly, the television is on in the waiting room and there is not much conversation. We either see local programming followed by game shows or we see morning talk shows filled with fluff pieces and advertising the latest movie, Broadway play, etc.
And the insane thing is that I am glued to the television. Really!? I would never watch any of these shows at home. If I were not waiting, I would be studying Scripture, writing blog posts, and relaxing with a book in my hand. But I cannot do those things in the waiting room. I take several books with me, but the television attracts my attention. As a result, I flip through 4 pages of a book and I cannot tell you what happened on any of the four pages. So, I bring out the tablet and play a silly game, a time wasting game.
Sometimes, the waiting room is empty. I am so tempted to turn the channel to the Weather Channel or simply turn the television off. Could I get away with it? Some hospital staff person has it in their daily duties to ensure the television is on before people get there. I witnessed the lady doing that in the surgical prep waiting room (printed checklist in hand) before my wife’s open-heart surgery. It’s hard to turn the television on before people arrive when you start work at 6:00am and the open-heart patients have to arrive at 5:30am. If I turned off the television, would my impish prank, and tremendous desire for peace and quiet, get someone fired?
It is too great a risk. Instead, my mind is saying “Take the box! Take the box!” when I have no idea what is in the box, nor do I care. If they get great prizes, I am pleased that they are happy until the tax man says that you owe taxes on that new car that you just won. If they get zonked, it is all part of the greed that fuels the game show.
But you must do something while you are waiting. Don’t you? After all, my mantra has been that every second must be productive. At least, my entire life has been a testament to that rule. (Can someone now find the root of my insomnia?)
I may not be able to read the Bible with the television on, but I could pray. I think the Holy Spirit, who interprets our prayers to the Father, will filter out the occasional “Take curtain number 3!” from the midst of my prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. If not, it’s just one more thing to add to the confession list.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.