Red lights have an incredible ability to wreck the trajectory of my day. It’s pretty ridiculous, really. They should be expected components of my driving route. And yet, when I’m forced to stop, I get irritated. Waiting at a light interrupts my plan and interferes with my schedule. The worst is the days when lights seem inexplicably timed to stop me at every opportunity.
I hate waiting.
But, I do it. I wait. I don’t actually have much choice in the matter. It’s the law. If I blew through a red light I could a) get a ticket b) smash my car or c) cause injury to myself or someone else.
So, I wait. Out of obedience, I wait. Begrudgingly.
This seems to be my framework for waiting. Whether it is sitting at a stoplight in my car or standing at a checkout line or tapping my fingers at home watching my phone not ring, waiting is a grumbling act of submission to a reality I don’t have the power to change.
What is true of my daily life has also been true of my faith journey. I don't like waiting.
When I pray, but don’t get the answers I want in the time I want, I wait. But I wait out of frustrated obedience. It doesn’t really seem like I have a choice in the matter anyway. So, I submit to waiting with a frown on my face. I am like a toddler stomping my foot until my parent gives me the candy I asked for.
Lately I have been very into the Mumford & Sons song “I Will Wait.” Regardless of whether or not it intends to be a Christian song, I find it powerful. (For a humorous and insightful evaluation of that point, check out Jon Acuff’s “God or Girlfriend?” Quiz about the song.) Because when they declare “I will wait,” the words are not said in exasperation. The words are sung with energetic love.
I think of couples I know in which the husband was so enamored with the wife, that he pursued her for years. He didn’t give up and look for satisfaction elsewhere. He already found who he wanted, and he waited for her.
Waiting is an act of devotion. It is a commitment to stay true to the one we love.
As I have been walking through the Psalms, my journey has led me today to Psalm 27. It is one I have rested on often through the years, especially the last verse:
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14
When I look at the rest of this psalm, I see clues that give insight into what this waiting means. It is not exasperated duty. It is loyal love.
Life has thrown some twists at David. But in the midst of them, he is pledging his devotion to Yahweh. David is committing to stay true to the God who has stayed true to him.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. – Psalm 27:4
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. – Psalm 27:8
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. – Psalm 27:10
It is difficult for me to approach waiting with this kind of attitude. God’s patience sometimes irritates me. His acting within the framework of eternity and not just my daily agenda means I have to wait more often than I want to. It is a struggle.
I wonder if my heart would change if I more consistently pledged my love and faithfulness to God in the midst of the waiting times. If I used those opportunities to sing him a love song that with energy and passion declared my devotion to Him.
Lord, when my heart is restless, I will wait for You to bring me peace. When my soul is weary, I will wait for You to bring me rest. Lord, when my will is weak, I will wait for you to bring me strength. I will not give myself away to the fleeting desires and empty riches around me. I pledge my devoted love to You, Lord. I will wait for You.
Walk through the Psalms is a series reflecting on the beautiful and timeless poetry found in the middle of the Bible. It is an intentional study of God’s Word, grounded in the belief that God gave us the Bible so we could meditate on it, whether that takes us through inspiring or frustrating territory.
In case you’re not familiar with it, or if you just want to end this reading by listening to an amazing song, here is “I Will Wait” played live at Red Rocks. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGKfrgqWcv0]