Monday, August 20, 2007

Psalm 27: Productive Delay

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

For years I just didn't get the biblical concept of waiting. Waiting seemed a meaningless drag, forced onto us by the fact that Someone else is in charge of the narrative that is our lives. We hope, we dream and we wait. We cry, we plead and we wait. We run, we work and we wait. We minister, we serve and we wait. We think, we study and we wait. Sometimes we wait, we wait and we wait. Such is life in the middle of God's great, big redemptive story. So, with gritted teeth and emotions that fall short of joy, we resolve ourselves to the fact that we'll have to wait. God is God and we are what can we do? We wait.

I guess my concept of waiting was along the lines of what I experience in the dentist's office. My appointment has been scheduled for 10:00 am, but I know that I won't be seen until 10:45. I'm already uptight at the time I'll waste, sitting in that office with nothing to do. The last physician's office I was in even had a sign that read, "No cell phones please!" So, you look for some way to make the mind-numbing minutes go by. But what seems to be hours, at a quick glance at your watch, proves to have been only six minutes. What happens next, all of us have done. To pass the time, we pick up magazines that we wouldn't normally ever choose to read. You know that you're a man who's been in the dentist's office for too long when you are now reading "Ladies Home Journal" and thinking that the ingredients in the recipe that you're looking at actually seem quite tasty. You're tempted to tear it out and take it home with you! You want to call your wife and say, "Dear, I've found the best recipe for chicken," when suddenly you think, "What am I doing?"

But waiting on God isn't like this at all. Waiting on God isn't about the suspension of meaning and purpose. It's part of the meaning and purpose that God has brought into my life. Waiting on God isn't to be viewed as an obstruction in the way of the plan. Waiting is an essential part of the plan. For the child of God, waiting isn't simply about what I'll receive at the end of my wait. No, waiting is much more purposeful, efficient, and practical than that. Waiting is fundamentally about what I'll become as I wait. God is using the wait to do in and through me exactly what he's promised. Through the wait he's changing me. By means of the wait he's altering the fabric of my thoughts and desires. Through the wait he's causing me to see and experience new things about him and his kingdom. And all of this sharpens me, enabling me to be a more useful tool in his redemptive hands.

Waiting on God is restorative. It's one of the tools God uses to remake us into what we were designed to be in the beginning. Yet, I don't like to wait and I still struggle to wait well. How about you? The next time God calls you wait, don't let your mind go to the dentist's office. Picture in your mind the nimble and skilled fingers of a potter, who's putting pressure on the clay right where it's needed, so that it will take on the beauty that is it's potential. And with this picture in mind, give thanks for the very moment that would have once have driven you crazy.


At 7:44 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Another great post. I really appreciate your blog.

At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found it good to pray when waiting in such situations.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Debi said...

Once again you nailed me to the wall. I laughed so hard about the dentist's office scenario - I'll never read a magazine in the same way. Thank you that even waiting in the dentist's office can now be a means of God's grace to remind me that waiting is part of His purpose for my life and my good.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger meredith said...

Run that by me again? 'Waiting is restorative.' Oh really? I thought it was just hard. And testing. And patience-growing. And annoying. And designed to drain out every last drop of rebellion and fizz until you submit to the absence of the thing you're waiting on.

Kinda wish you'd unpack that adjective you picked there. Tell me about 'restorative' please.

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Mark C Tubbs said...

LOL re the dentist's time be sure to bring along a good book, Dr. Tripp!

I recommend 'Waiting' by Ben Patterson (you've probably already read it though).

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post! GA is also my biggest earning. However, it’s not a much.

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