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Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Waiting Game

I waited and waited and waited for GOD. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to GOD. Blessed are you who give yourselves over to GOD, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; the world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts. Nothing and no one comes close to you! I start talking about you, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words. Neither numbers nor words account for you. Doing something for you, bringing something to you – that’s not what you’re after. Being religious, acting pious – that’s not what you’re asking for. You’ve opened my ears so I can listen. So I answered, “I’m coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me, and I’m coming to the party you’re throwing for me.” That’s when God’s word entered my live, became part of my very being. (Psalm 40:1-8)

Waiting is a process that none of us really relishes. In the waiting, we sometimes lose hope of the end reward. In those times of endless waiting for answered prayer, we can see the delay as a challenge that almost bogs us down and keeps us anchored to our present circumstances. If we look deeper at the meaning of waiting, we will see that although it carries a meaning of being stationary or unmoving, it also carries with it the idea of being in readiness or continual expectation. God looks for a “ready” and “available” people – those who will dedicate themselves to remaining stationary long enough to allow him to accomplish his purposes. Those purposes go way beyond our circumstances, deep into the central part of our make-up – affecting us deeply in our character. We should never under-estimate the value of the waiting.

David pens the words of this psalm with a sense of his desperation for God to intervene. It is a desperation that is born in the midst of overwhelming circumstance and then compounded in the time of waiting for God’s intervention. Desperation occurs in the inner core of our being – when we begin to experience circumstances in such intensity that they almost overpower us and crush in upon us from every angle. Desperation can have a defeating effect if we allow it to create an anxiety within us, but it can also have a releasing effect when we allow it to expose our need. In the waiting, we can succumb to the pressures, responding in our own efforts – or we can wait with the assurance that “at last” he will look upon us and listen to our cries.

The psalmist wants us to see the response of God to our waiting. He wants us to see that our patient waiting is always met by the Lord’s provision. God’s plans are too easy to miss in the hectic hubbub of daily life – in the waiting times they are made clear. God’s steadying power is never more evident than in the midst of trial. We need to see the progressive display of God’s grace toward David in his time of waiting:
  • He looked upon David – directing his attention to David’s pleading heart
  • He listened to David’s heartfelt cries– paying attention to each word, hearing them with thoughtful attentiveness, alert to never missing even one syllable of uttered plea
  • He lifted David out of the pit – taking him up from the misery of trial and moving him into the joy of his presence
  • He pulled him up – exerting just enough force in David’s life that David would respond to his tugging and be drawn upward to the presence of his creator
  • He made him stand – not on slippery ground, but on a foundation so solid that David could not possibly slip
  • He taught him to worship – creating a passion deep within his heart that stirred the emotions and lifted his spirit
  • He allowed him to be a witness – drawing more and more people into the presence of his God in abandonment to his love, grace, and peace
All this was a result of the time of waiting. God’s plans for us are too numerous for us to often fathom in our limited mental capacity. We cannot fathom all he has mapped out for our lives, but we can be assured that God’s love will always meet us exactly where we are. The times of trial may very well be a time of God getting our attention – helping to clarify our focus, revealing what he deeply desires for us. In those times, God’s ultimate intention is to allow us to become so disillusioned with what the world offers that we cannot help but embrace what he so graciously provides.

His intention in the waiting is that we would come to the conclusion that “nothing and no one comes close to him” – that we would lay down our efforts at living righteously and allow him to create that righteousness in the central parts of our being, deeply affecting our inner man. You might wonder how we can allow him to become all that we desire, all that we seek after, all that we find fulfillment in. I think David gives us a pretty clear answer to that question – it is not in what we do, but in how we respond.

All the “doing” in the world will not create a sense of God’s righteousness in us. It is in the times that we allow God’s Word to enter in, to become part of our being, that we are changed. It is in times of waiting before him, expectantly yearning to be filled up, that he meets us. Never underestimate the value of the waiting.