Buzz words are used to describe where we are in life: in the transitional phase, beginning of the journey, in the focused phase, me time. Well I’ve been in the hallway. A corridor full of closed doors, and I’ve stood there, and waited. I’ve prayed unceasingly for specific doors to open, and then for any door to be open. I know where I am by the rib prodding truth of quotes like “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.” My hallway all too often appears stark, devoid of praise for the Almighty. Without charm, decorated with wallpaper of frustration, and a dark molding of worry.
When the lighting is just right, it splashes the walls with hope. You think you can almost see a door knob turn; you try to still your racing heart, poised like a runner to get there before it shuts again. Then nothing. You finally avert your gaze, the disappointments bleeding into full blown tantrums.
I’m a toddler again lying on the floor kicking and screaming until my parents with barely suppressed laughter flee the room. When I realized I had lost my audience, I stopped, picked myself up and wandered the house again until I found them. At which time I promptly hurled myself back onto the floor to commence with the kicking and screaming. My parents thoroughly enjoy recounting this phase, largely because it was short lived and there’s some distance on it now.
They don’t know that I’m still in that phase.
I’ve simply adjusted my audience. I pray with eyes shut tight, hands clasped white, and I pray for doors to open. I will them to open by sheer willpower. Promising God that if it would just crack, I would run through it and keep running for as far and as long as He desires, if only the door would open.
It hasn’t opened. Not the one I’m looking at now, at least.
So I throw a tantrum in the hallway, I rant and rail, and plead and beg for change, for direction;His will be done – as long as it moves me through a door. The thought of staying in the hallway has me bouncing off the walls. I call it treading water, and teary eyed I try to express how exhausting it is to swim without getting anywhere. In my brattiest moments I contemplate sinking, stopping the treading, just to prove to God that He didn’t come through for me and look what happened?
And then with startling clarity, I realize that I throw tantrums because I still know deep down, I have an audience. Without an audience, my kicking and screaming is to no avail. I have an audience with the Almighty Lord. And if I believe He is there, if I believe I have His attention, then I in turn have to believe the other part of what He tells us. He is for us, He inclines His ear to us, His plans are to give us a hope and a future, nothing can take us from His victorious right hand.
I unconsciously affirm His presence in my life while questioning whether He’ll show up for me.
I’ve called God an eleventh hour God. Said God is guaranteed to show up at 11:59 if the end of life is set to occur at 12:00. I don’t question His coming, but I question His timing. He has consistently shown up at the last minute, and instead of seeing this as perfect timing, I see it as barely in time.
And the wording is everything, for it exemplifies the status of the heart beating in my chest.
The hallway I resent so much has been decorated by me. I put up the wallpaper, and the molding, and I can tear it down. I’ve put the gloom there, the worry and frustration I brought with me.
My tantrums stop, I see the hallway for what it is – a place of learning. A place where lessons take root, established by time. The hallway changes from wasted time, to preparation time. Each hallway put behind me, leads to another that is marked by decidedly more grace, more patience than the last. This happens by understanding that the doubting that makes foresight hazy, and hearts heavy, is combated only by a refocusing of our lens.
The wide angle of the hallway overwhelms, drives me ungrateful. But the narrowed focus rains soft delight, renews happy.
In the stillness film plays on the walls, rolling through all the times He came through for me, right on time. While I kept eyes fixed on the door of my choosing; He opened another much more fitting, and provided the means to walk through it. He’s proven Himself; He’s shown Himself faithful in spite of it all. It’s not faith that requires blindness, but the faith that restores sight. I watch the highlight reel of all He’s achieved through me, in spite of me, and for me.
If the Lord answers these little prayers, and opens small doors, who am I to doubt the big doors will be opened in His perfect timing. So I pray hopeful, for another door. A door that opens to a friendship restored.
With eyes that search for unacknowledged doors, I see that my audience never left. While I challenged His promises to me, He listened.
And I know this because within the same day, a phone rings delight back into my hallway, a door opened, a soft prayer heard and answered.
Grace that amazes washes over me.
I hold an audience with the Lord God, and He has inclined His ear to me in the hallway.
Featured on the Burnside Writers Collective