Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
- Psalm 37:34
I once heard a story about a small town that had a gray haired pastor beloved by everyone and his influence was great, he was an old-fashioned gentleman, all listened to his advice because he lived them.
One day a young man who had been badly insulted arrived, filled with angry indignation he demanded approval from the old pastor to exact revenge, and would only stop if he received an official apology.
“My dear boy,” said the old pastor, “take a word of advice from an old man who loves peace. An insult is like mud; it will brush off much better when it is dry. Wait a little, till he and you are both cool, and the thing will be easily mended. If you go now it will only be to quarrel.”
The young man took the advice to heart, and before the end of the next day the insulting person came to beg forgiveness.
Those who have been walking with the Lord for a while know the proper theological response to Psalm 37:34 -- we must wait in hope, wait in obedience, in expectation, this is how we keep His way, if we waited in any other way it would make it very hard to keep His way. It is so easy to tell someone to “wait and trust in the Lord” until we are on the receiving end of such words, only then we realize how difficult they are to hear, and how impossible they seem to live out.
Looking back in history we see that the most popular technological advances have aided us in getting places faster, driving is not fast enough we must fly, now we are receiving and sending information at super speed; today we have reached the point where everything is practically instant, any slower is simply unacceptable.
We hate having to wait, that is why we go to the shortest line at the grocery store, why we pay extra to skip to the front of the line at theme parks, we ship things overnight, we e-mail instead of snail mail, we text instead of e-mail, we pay so we can watch tv on demand without commercials, we now watch movies instantly at home. The list is extensive, but it reveals something very true: we don’t like to wait.
The old preacher saying goes “God’s delays are not denials”, that is just a kinder way to tell someone to wait. When all we want is to take ‘patience’ and start running with it! It is our way of “waiting” yet still being able to move about. A mistake we make is we hear “Wait on the Lord” all our lives and think of those words as a suggestion, at least we live in a way that implies we think of them as a mere suggestion.
For those two hours at church everything is fine, I am there with likeminded people, I’m isolated from the world; it is easy to focus on God here, to spend time in worship, in here I can wait on the Lord. Doors open and soon I have to walk outside and face the world, isolation is not a solution, so what is? Monday morning I find myself completely discouraged in my walk with the Lord, I’m doing my best to wait on the Lord, trying to keep His way but failing again and again. My old self seems more powerful than new man I am in Christ, I am living Sunday to Sunday as a defeated Christian, the truth is I am not living at all.
The old man has died, we have been made new in Christ, we are forgiven, so why do I imitate my old dead self? Why do I allow myself to live as a defeated Christian? My old sins taking hold of me with a fresh grip. I am completely honest with God “You know my heart…I can’t live like this…I hate living like this…rescue me!” How have I allowed my walk to become a crawl?
It is vital for me to spend time in the word; more important is to reflect on the passage read, how does it glorify Christ? How does it apply to my life? Prayers of thankfulness for what God has done, prayers of repentance for what i have done, prayers for those who are on our hearts, songs of praise on our lips for the rest of the day.
I find that the less focused my devotional time is, the more time my heart has to focus on me, my lack on reflection on the word quickly becomes evident in my life, in how I act, how I treat others, how I treat God; allowing His commands to become suggestions. Soon my troubles appear to be gigantic, bigger than what I remember God being. I send God “I miss you notes” but never spend time with Him. It does not take long for me to start walking in my old steps, imitating my old self again, unwilling to let the mud dry. Is it Sunday yet?
My devotional time is more important than I ever realized. Even if life is under a complete dark cloud, and the only things we can find to be grateful for happened in the new testament, still, still our list of “thank you” to God will always be longer than our list of troubles.When have you had to "wait for the mud to dry," and how did patience influence that experience? How important are spiritual disciplines to your life? How do daily devotions help you to be patient and wait on God?