I Will Wait for You

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]

Advent Series Day 6: fulfillment of the law

Are you a rule-breaker or a rule-follower? It seems that some of us are prone to cross a line as soon as we see someone draw it. Others are likely to get as far away from the line as possible. Many fall on the spectrum in between, but still land on one side or the other. If you are not sure which you are, ask someone close to you. They probably have you pegged.

My husband tells me all the time that I am a rule-follower.

It’s not that I never disobey rules- I do- sometimes by accident, and sometimes on purpose. But, by nature, I am prone to obey them. I feel sympathetic to the person who created the rule. I assume there is a reason he or she did, and I want to honor that. I am also likely to feel guilty if I don’t obey.

However, even me, a rule-follower, would have struggled to obey all the laws laid out in the Old Testament. Take the first of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20.

 “You shall have no other gods before me. – Exodus 20:3

I am to make nothing else my god before Yahweh. I should not give anything or anyone a higher place in my mind or heart than Him. I should not base my identity on anything but Him. I should not spend my energy trying to please anyone besides Him.

I’m pretty sure my rule-following self messed that up several times just today.

And this is just the first commandment. There are nine more. Plus numerous ceremonial and civil laws spread throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.

What is the purpose of all these laws?

If God did not consider them important, He would not have spent so much time laying them out for the Israelites. And He would not have used up so many pages of the Bible with their words.

I do not believe the law was not there to save the Israelites. For at a point when they had done nothing to earn His favor, God had rescued them from the Egyptians. The law was about setting them apart from other nations. It was about living in response to what Yahweh had done for them. And it was about recognizing God’s holiness, and their failure to live up to His standard.

The law was helped them see their need for a Savior.

If I were an Israelite, I would have failed many times at living according to the law. When that happened, I would have symbolically placed my sin on an animal sacrificed in my place. Over and over again.

So I would have found hope in the promise God made that a new covenant was coming.

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:33-34

The coming of the Messiah means the new covenant has been ushered in. Our relationship to the law has changed. Jesus said

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. – Matthew 5:17

The law is fulfilled. Now it is not obedience to the law that is our response to the holiness of God, it is faith in Jesus. It is to His blood that we go when we make a mistake. We are still called to live differently- as the lights of this dark world. But we do this through Christ, and the law He has now written on our hearts.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6

The Messiah has come. I am no longer a rule-follower: I am a Christ-follower.

 Related Post: Becoming Conscious

you mean, that was meant for me?

The problem with writing a blog is that I have to read the words I write. A number of my posts are written because I have learned a lesson that has helped me, and I feel inspired to write about it. Other times, I write about something, and realize afterwards that it is a lesson I have not yet learned.  In actuality, even the posts that fall into the former category also fall into the later. I am a work in progress.

Such was the case with a post from a few weeks ago, titled Slow to Obey. In that post, I wondered in what areas of my life I was being slow to obey God, and missing out on the blessings He had for me on the other side. In the time since that post, I have realized a glaring area of pokiness in my life: baptism.

I have never been baptized as an adult. Depending on your theology, that may not be an area of disobedience for you, but because of my theology, it was for me. As I read the New Testament, I see people choosing baptism in response to hearing and accepting the Gospel message. I have come to believe that one should be baptized after believing in Jesus, in obedience to His command (Matt 28:19) and as a symbol of the new life available through Him (Col 2:9-15). *

The reason I haven’t been baptized is what really makes this point clear. I did not like how it would make me look. My theology of baptism came into focus after I was working at a church. It felt awkward to me to get baptized so late in the game, so I avoided it.

However, I am avoiding it no longer. This Sunday, November 6, 2011, I will be baptized. I’m excited to finally follow through on something I have been thinking about for a long time.

As part of the service, my story will be read: the story of how I came to faith, why I follow Jesus, and why I want to be baptized now. I invite you to be my digital witness by reading my story here. I hope it encourages you and reminds you of what a wonderful God we serve.

People who know me may be surprised that I am getting baptized today. Not because I do not follow Christ, but because I have followed Him for so long. Here is my story.

I grew up going to church, as much out of expectation and tradition as out of belief. While there, I did come to understand that I was a sinner, and that Christ died for me. However, much of what I learned seemed distant. I was taught the doctrine of our denomination, but not the life-giving potential of faith.

When I was ten, my parents divorced. The circumstances around their split left me feeling rejected. Throughout my adolescence, I tried to cope with this in different ways. At first, I was angry, becoming the detested person I thought I was. Then, I tried to earn love, either through achievement or through molding to what others wanted me to be. I realize now that I was looking for the love and worth that only God can provide.

My freshman year of college, I began attending a Christian campus group and a Bible-believing church. I was getting on the right path. Still, my search for worth was pointed at God’s community, not at God Himself.

The following summer, I was a counselor at a camp with no fellow believers. I made poor choices, and returned to school with doubts and regrets. Meanwhile, my Christian roommate returned to school on fire for God. I was faced with the choice of two paths. Did I want to be a church-goer or Christ-follower? What would bring the hope, love, and life change I had been searching for? At that time, I decided that if faith in Jesus meant anything, then it meant everything.

I gave Christ authority over my life, and many things changed. I joined a Bible study. I volunteered with the church youth group. I changed my major from engineering to social work. I began dating a wonderful Christian man who later became my husband. Eventually, God then took me from volunteering at church, to working at church, to going to seminary, and finally, to becoming a children’s pastor.

Throughout that time, I began to wrestle with my theology of baptism. I had been baptized as an infant, and at first, did not feel convicted to get “re-baptized” as an adult. But then I came to believe baptism is something people should choose to do after placing their faith in Jesus. I felt a nudge to be baptized again. Yet, the timing felt problematic. I was already a pastor. How would it look for me to say I want to be baptized now? Hadn’t my friends and family already seen my desire to follow Christ through my life choices? What more would baptism add?

For a long time, the awkwardness of the situation kept me from moving forward. But then Pastor Craig told the story of his own baptism, which happened after he became a pastor. He took away my last excuse. I realized that my slowness had become disobedience.

I want to be baptized to demonstrate that I love Jesus more than anything else: more than family traditions and more than outward appearances. My family has just gone through a major transition: a new community, a new job for my husband, and a new role for me as a stay at home mom. Through this baptism, I want demonstrate my desire to follow Christ with the next leg of my journey, just as I have with the last.

Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I pray that today’s baptism will be a reminder to others and to me that my life is my living sacrifice to a loving God.

I pray that you, like me, will remember that it’s never too late to follow through on something God has placed on your heart.  

* For a great little resource on the theology and history of baptism, check out the booklet created by Blackhawk Church.