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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Waiting vs. waiting upon

Do you ever find yourself complaining that God seems to be looking the other way when you need his attention right now?  Or perhaps you think he has abandoned you to some state of misery?  I think we all have pretty much been there at least once, and if we were honest, we'd admit we come to this place a little too often before we realize God never abandons us.  We may not hear him as clearly, see how he is moving in the muddle we are in, or be strong in our faith that he is right there beside us, but he never lets us walk through stuff alone.  There were times when my kids were little that I'd suddenly realize I couldn't hear them anymore, knowing this sudden silence meant they were likely into some type of mischief!  In my losing track of what they were doing, they took full advantage of getting into something they knew they weren't supposed to be into - like pulling the toilet paper all off the roll in a huge pile around them on the floor, or dumping out all the baby powder and then proceeding to paint themselves with it!  Good news - God doesn't "lose track" of his kids!  If we wander into places of "mischief" in our lives, he is right there ready to correct us, redirect us, or recommission us.

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, God has lost track of me.  He doesn’t care what happens to me”?  Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?  God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.  He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.  He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out.  He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.  For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.  (Isaiah 40:27-31 MSG)

There is power in waiting on the Lord to renew our souls, yet so many of us just wander around without the power we could tap into if we'd just take a few moments to wait upon him.  It is in "waiting upon" that we find the "energizing" for the task which is just ahead.  Maybe if we learned how to "wait upon" a little better, we might not feel like we are "out on our own" in so many of life's circumstances.  To wait means to exchange - we exchange our strength for his, our wisdom for his, our energy for his.  His knowledge to do it his way rather than our own is only found in the waiting.  The strength to do what is just ahead is only found in the moment of exchange.  So, if this is where the "exchange" happens, we need to learn how to "wait upon" as our "first option" rather than our "bail out" option!

Survivalist shows are abounding on TV these days.  These "reality shows" pair the most unlikely together to see if they will be able to make it through to the end of the torturous course ahead.  One thing becomes quite apparent as we watch these episodes - the survivors are the ones who "size up" the situation before they leap into it.  There is wisdom in waiting just a little bit before you take your first step, isn't there?  What probably comes across in these shows even clearer than this "sizing up" concept is the relationships which are formed - you don't survive alone!  Like it or not, we are not designed to live alone - we are designed for relationship.  We are "relational" creatures.  So many of us try to walk out this daily existence of our Christian faith alone and wonder why we find ourselves feeling lonely, abandoned, and without a shred of hope to hang onto.  We might just be at that point because we haven't engaged in the relationships we so desperately need in order to "survive" the harshness of the road upon which we travel!

Another reason we get ourselves into the place of feeling kind of abandoned is because we veer away from the principles we know to be true.  We try something completely different from what we know for sure is reliable, trustworthy, and upright.  Trust me - whenever I have veered from the principles I have learned through scripture, I've been burned!  We can live by all kinds of "good philosophy", but philosophy is just not going to cut it because the basic premise of any philosophy is to improve upon it.  In truth, God's Word cannot be improved upon!  It is more than philosophy - it is tried and true - nothing can be added, nothing taken away.  When we gravitate toward living by some type of "philosophy" in our lives, we are more susceptible to living by the culture of the day in which we live - if it feels good, doesn't appear to hurt anyone, and seems to carry some sense of reward for the one doing it, then it is okay to pursue.  Think again!  Just because it feels good to eat a chocolate bar each day doesn't make it good for a person who is struggling with their weight!  Just because my actions don't seem to outwardly hurt another, someone is watching who may be affected by those actions without my even knowing it!  Just because there is some reward for me in the actions I am taking doesn't mean it is the right thing for me!

When we allow God's words to get "worked into" the fibers of our lives, we have something upon which we might rely upon when we are faced with those moments of decision in life.  Waiting upon God allows for the "working in" to occur.  We are only able to stand - or withstand - when we have the right foundation.  The right foundation is never based upon something which needs improvement!  It is based upon that which cannot be improved upon!  This is why we need to get the Word of God into us - it gives us the stability of standing upon what cannot be improved upon!  Too many times we "improvise" in this life.  We step out, not sure where we are going, then improvise to get from point A to B.  There is a certain stability which comes into our lives when we learn to live by design and not by default.  To really learn what it is we are designed to live by, we need time to wait upon God.  

This "waiting upon" thing is really not all that complicated.  In seeking God, you find yourself - for he designed you!  In seeking him, you are free to be who he made you to be.  Discovery comes in waiting upon - not just in waiting, but in waiting upon.  In the most literal sense, the difference is in the activity level of each.  Waiting bespeaks inactivity - waiting upon refers a certain level of activity or involvement.  When we wait upon God, we aren't just passively standing by until he says move.  We are engaging in what we know to do - like prayer, time in the Word, taking the steps of faith we know to take, then patiently listening for the wisdom about the steps we don't know how to take yet.  When we engage with him, he engages with us.  It is active waiting God is directing us toward, not passivity.  Passive "service" is really not service at all.  Just sayin!