A few days ago I published a blog post on my second blog titled, “A New Beginning.” My six plus-year search for affordable senior housing has finally come to an end but not in a senior apartment complex. While I’m a believer in “never giving up” in any kind of circumstances, there are times when “giving up” just might offer the solution one is looking for–at least that’s been the case in my housing situation. I finally “gave up” on finding affordable senior housing, and that is when I found this apartment. You can read about it here.
For six years I got used to living in a very small space. I hadn’t planned on it lasting that long but no one knows what the futures holds. The amount of space that I have lived in for the past four years of those six years was 220 square feet total, and it was located in an extended stay hotel (it is a chain of hotels) where I stayed during my very long senior housing search in the city where I have been living in since the summer of 2016. And then, practically overnight, when I decided I had to expand my search beyond affordable senior housing (which had gone nowhere since it first started back in April 2014), I found an apartment in the exact location I wanted to live in located in an all-ages apartment complex, and now I have 700 square feet of living space, and I hardly know how to act. Wow.
I remember the first time I stayed for a week at an extended stay hotel in this same chain of hotels back in late August 2012. At the time I was living in a furnished apartment I found in the upstairs of an old house in Central Florida where I lived for just over four years before the house was sold to new owners who wanted to use my apartment for their own purposes, so I moved out at the end of March 2014. A realtor who was selling the house had estimated that my apartment space including the stairwell space leading down to a small room on the 1st floor was approximately 750 square feet.
The hotel where I stayed for that week in 2012 was in southeast Texas, and I had returned to Texas for a week for a vacation with some business involved, too. The first time I saw the hotel room (it was cute with a kitchenette area, bathroom and walk-in shower, and small living space that included a queen-sized bed, a table and two chairs, a bedside table, and an HDTV), it felt so very small compared to my apartment. Little did I realize at the time that a year and half later when the house sold where my apartment was located and I moved out of that apartment, that I would actually be living in that small amount of space for the next six years first in Florida and then in Texas.
Of course, I had no idea how long my “hotel saga” (as I like to call it) would last. I was actively looking for affordable senior housing since early 2014, and besides being placed on waiting lists that I never heard back from, the years started slipping by and I wondered what the heck was up with my not being able to secure an affordable apartment in a senior apartment complex. However, also during those six years I learned to become comfortable living in a small space that included the basic essentials I needed to live (kitchenette, bathroom, bed, table and two chairs).
It took six years for my life to suddenly change practically overnight when I found this apartment that I moved into last week. To acquire once again the amount of space I had been used to living in when I worked and rented apartments all of my working life is just such a huge change after six years of living in approximately 220 sq. ft. of space, and with other guests staying in rooms above and around me who were literally at times less then five or ten feet away from me with only a wall or ceiling separating us. And guests walked by my window daily when my curtain was open, and they were literally only two or less feet from touching my window. My room was in a high traffic area with a parking lot only a few feet from my window, too.
I started moving into this apartment nine days ago and I still have to find some furniture for it. I lost all of my own furniture that I had for many years just over 11 years ago: however, I didn’t want to feel pressured to rush right out and buy furniture without really thinking about what it is I want to put into my apartment. And since I’ve been very used to living in 220 sq. ft. of space for a very long time now, it does not bother me to keep looking at primarily two empty rooms with a fold-up bed that I purchased to sleep on, and a old folding table and chair and chaise lounge chair that I had with me in my hotel room. I’m visualizing what I want to do with the space that I now have in the way of furniture after years of not having it at all (except what was furnished in the hotel rooms).
Serendity is described in Wikipedia as “an unplanned fortunate discovery” (source here). That is exactly what happened to me when I found this apartment. Try as I did to find an apartment in a senior apartment complex for six plus years with nothing opening up for me, I have to be honest with you–I was reaching my wit’s end as I felt like my life was “on hold” all of those years I was looking and living in an extended stay hotel room.
In a daily devotion published on December 29, 2018, titled, “Expecting the Unexpected,” by Dr. Charles Swindoll, Senior Pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, TX, author, educator, and founder of Insight for Living, he writes:
It had been a long time since Horace Walpole smiled. Too long. Life for him had become as drab as the weather in dreary old England. Then, on a grim winter day in 1754, while reading a Persian fairy tale, his smile returned. He wrote his longtime friend, Horace Mann, telling him of the “thrilling approach to life” he had discovered from the folk tale.
The ancient tale told of three princes from the island of Ceylon who set out on a pursuit of great treasures. They never found that for which they searched, but en route they were continually surprised by delights they had never anticipated. While looking for one thing, they found another.
The original name of Ceylon was Serendip, which explains the title of this story—”The Three Princes of Serendip.” From that, Walpole coined the wonderful word “serendipity.” And from then on, his most significant and valued experiences were those that happened to him while he was least expecting them.
Serendipity occurs when something beautiful breaks into the monotonous and the mundane. A serendipitous life is marked by “surprisability” and spontaneity. When we lose our capacity for either, we settle into life’s ruts. We expect little and we’re seldom disappointed.
Though I have walked with God for several decades, I must confess I still find much about Him incomprehensible and mysterious. But this much I know: He delights in surprising us. He dots our pilgrimage from earth to heaven with amazing serendipities.
Isaiah’s words make me smile every time I read them because I have seen their truth come to pass time and again. God still stands behind this promise:
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland. (Isa. 43:19 NIV)
Your situation may be as hot and barren as a desert or as forlorn and meaningless as a wasteland. You may be tempted to think, “There’s no way!” when someone suggests things could change. All I ask is that you read that verse one more time and be on the lookout. God may very well be planning a serendipity in your life.
God has been doing “a new thing” in drab deserts and wintry wastelands for centuries. (Quote source here.)
While I was waiting for my housing situation to change and wondering why it didn’t for so very, very, very long, I learned a whole lot of things I never knew existed before I found myself in that situation. In an article published on January 5, 2018, titled, “God’s Waiting Room,” by Dr. Duane Durst, district superintendent of the New York Ministry Network and Northeast Region non-resident executive presbyter for the General Council of the Assemblies of God, he writes:
Have you been praying for an answer that hasn’t arrived? Are you waiting for a promise that seems unfulfilled? Even as a new year begins, does it feel like you’re lingering in the same place, still looking for a breakthrough? Take heart. God hasn’t forgotten you. You’re in His waiting room, and He is already at work in your situation.
God’s waiting room may be the most important space we encounter in life. It’s where God tests our commitment and grows our faith. It’s where we prepare for the next leg of the journey. As we wait on the Lord, we learn and experience trust.
Habakkuk 2:3 says, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, don’t despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue by a single day!” (TLB).
James 1:2–4 reminds us of the benefits of patience and perseverance: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (The Message).
How we emerge from God’s waiting room is dependent on our attitude. Jonah’s waiting room experience was one of the toughest. But unfortunately, Jonah didn’t allow God’s lessons to make a lasting change in his heart. Jonah felt he had the right to direct his own life. Though he was sorry for his initial disobedience, he justified holding a grudge. Even after three days in fish slime, he remained bitter.
Sometimes God puts us in the waiting room against our will to give us an opportunity to change. But He doesn’t force us to do what’s right. Jonah preached a message of judgment, and the nation repented. Yet Jonah remained angry and resentful.
Waiting on God requires us to put aside our way of doing things and trust His timing and plan. Abraham was 100 when he finally held Isaac, the son God had promised to send (Genesis 21:5). Joseph, clinging to God’s great promises, spent years in prison and endured one difficulty after another. Yet he remained faithful, rightly believing that God would accomplish His purposes through all the trials.
The Blessings of Waiting
There are benefits to being in God’s waiting room. First, waiting brings renewal. In the waiting room, we become stronger. According to Isaiah 40:31, “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (ESV).
God loves us enough to give us what we need rather than what we want. Sometimes waiting is the best thing for building our faith.
Second, we come to realize that God’s timetable is not our timetable. We must understand that time does not limit God’s power. To Him, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).
We view time in a linear fashion, like the yard markers on a football field, but God sees things from the end zone. He sees all time at the same time. From God’s eternal perspective, the 700 years of silence between Malachi and Jesus’ birth are a brief pause, and the years of Israel’s seemingly endless captivity are a blip on the radar of time. When we grasp this truth, we cannot justify anxiety (Philippians 4:6).
Learning to Wait
Waiting for what God has promised does not negate the reality of the promise. The life of David provides a great example for us. David was anointed king over Israel in 1 Samuel 16, when he was a teenager. However, he didn’t become king over the two tribes of Judah until he was 30. And it was nearly 18 years after that before he gained the kingship of all of Israel. All told, he waited nearly 30 years for the complete fulfillment of the promise.
Some of us can hardly wait two weeks or even two days. God gives us a promise, and we look for it to happen right now. Yet God’s plan takes time! He daily prepares us to receive the promise. It’s not that God is not ready; He’s getting us ready.
We must be sure of God’s calling and direction, regardless of circumstances or naysayers. When I was in Bible college, my hall advisor suggested I go back to engineering school because he didn’t think I could cut it in the ministry.
We can’t always see what God has in store for us in the future, but if we wait on Him, He will bring His promises to pass.
While we wait, we can pour our lives into others. At Ziklag, David invested himself in mighty men of valor (1 Samuel 27). Instead of moaning about the fact that he wasn’t yet king, David invested in others who believed in the plan and vision God had given him for the nation.
Don’t try to alter God’s timetable. The human tendency is to try to make things happen on our own instead of just saying, “God, I’m going to keep moving and doing, and you direct my path. I’m going to trust you for what you promised back there, to bring it to pass up here.”
David twice had the opportunity to kill Saul and assume the kingship (1 Samuel 24; 26). But he wisely refused to try to take by force what God had promised.
Of course, waiting isn’t always uneventful. In fact, we will often encounter persecution while waiting. It happened to David when Saul tried to kill him (1 Samuel 19).
It’s hard enough to wait, but it’s even harder when we’re under attack. Yet persecution comes when we serve the Lord (2 Timothy 3:12). God calls us to do what’s right before Him, regardless of the cost. We can trust Him to order our steps and provide for our future. True peril begins when we try to protect ourselves and leave His covering.
Are you in God’s waiting room right now? Has God promised to do things in and through you? Commit these promises to God, and do what He’s called you to do today.
When trials and persecutions come, remain faithful to God. Know that God is on both sides of the struggle–where it starts and where it ends. He will take care of you and work out the details. Trust Him, and don’t try to mess with His timing.
Refuse to listen to voices that tell you to walk away and forget about God’s promises. God has a timetable and a plan. Be faithful.
Remember that delay is not denial. You’re in God’s waiting room. And He’s at work! (Quote source here.)
So if you’re sitting in God’s waiting room right now (and it certainly can happen more then once in life), remember…
God’s delay . . .
Is not . . .
Denial . . . .
YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken: