Waiting Like Leo

swamp-rat-16Leo was as regular as clockwork.  A few minutes before 3 PM, he would walk into my office, and say:  It’s time to get a cup, are you ready?

While I enjoyed the break and our afternoon conversations, the ride to the coffee shop was a hang-0n-for-your-life experience.  This kind, jovial, old gent evidently had nitro in his DNA because the second the traffic light turned green he morphed into a mixture of three of the all time NHRA greats: Matt Hagan, Don Prudhomme, and Big Daddy Don Gartlis.

Quicker than you could say Folgers, Leo honked his horn, smoked his tires, floor-boarded the gas pedal and raced to the coffee shop—Leo was a better fumer and fretter than he was a patient waiter.

To be truthful, if you’re anything like me, both of us are too much like Leo. We hate to wait at red lights, in lines, or for the 30 seconds it takes for a microwave to do its magic—we’re better at getting up and going than we are at sitting and waiting.

Whatever you do, please don’t put me on hold—elevator music isn’t relaxing; it’s a fight song.

A.W. Tozer (1918-1963) lamented this spirit of busyness because it has diminished our ability to be still and know the Lord.  Tozer said: We are victims of the philosophy of activism tragically misunderstood, and he defined it as an urgent life of getting and spending, going and returning, organizing and promoting, buying and selling, working and playing. Tozer continued: If we are not making plans or working to carry out plans already made we feel that we are failures, that we are sterile, unfruitful eunuchs, parasites on the body of society.

In these stress-filled times, we need to ease up on the throttle and learn to wait on the Lord. David said that he waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry (Psalm 40:1).

When we wait, with an expectant hope, in God’s providential care, we find that God will:

  • Offer guidance: Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long (Psalm 25:5)
  • Provide deliverance: We wait for the Lord; he is our deliverer and shield. (Psalms 33:20).
  • Answer prayer: Listen to what I say, Lord! Carefully consider my complaint! Pay attention to my cry for help, my king and my God, for I am praying to you! Lord, in the morning you will hear me; in the morning I will present my case to you and then wait expectantly for an answer (Psalms 5:1-3).
  • Give strength: Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

John Ortberg has commented on the importance of waiting.  Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.

Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. ~Isaiah 26:8

The Pursuit of Peace

Pursuit-LogoI was flipping through the pages of the Psalms late yesterday afternoon, and 5 words from Psalm 34 caught my attention:  “Seek peace and pursue it.”  When I examined the words of this verse, I came away with the idea that it is a faith and works verse.

The faith part is found in the word “seek.”  The original meaning of the word has the idea of seeking within the context of worship, or praying for peace.

The works part of the verse is even more interesting.  The word “pursue” should be understood within the scope of intense persecution.  You should pursue peace with same energy and intensity of a zealous persecutor.

There is considerable harmony between the uses of pursue in the Old Testament, and the way Paul uses it in the New Testament:

  • In Romans 14:19, Paul encouraged the Christians at Rome to “Pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.”
  • I Thessalonians 5:15: “See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.”
  • I Timothy 6:11: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.”

It has been said that whatever catches your attention, catches you.  I trust you’ll turn your attention to the business of “seeking peace and pursuing it.”  Peter confirms the importance of this endeavor:

Whoever desires to love life and see good days let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.    ~I Peter 3:10-12

A Simple Prayer

pathways_of_lightOne of my favorite characters in the Old Testament is a man named Samuel.  In I Samuel 12:23, he vowed that he would “. . . not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.”

With this in mind, I offer a simple prayer for you today:

May God guide your feet when you meet a fork in the road; may He give you strength to behave and be brave when you face the enemy; and, may He give you the ability to wait patiently when under the weight of a trial.

May the Lord bless you and watch over you; may He smile on you and be kind to you; and, may the Lord look on you with favor and give you peace.

Amen

Please share this prayer with those you know.

The Great Loyal Love of God

Dust-articleInlineOne of the sections of the Psalms that I enjoy is Psalm 103.  The Psalmist describes the Lord as being compassionate, merciful, patient, and demonstrative with His “great loyal love.”

As you read the verses below, notice the ebb and flow as the author builds on the foundation he’s laid:

The Lord is compassionate and merciful; He is patient and demonstrates great loyal love. He does not always accuse, and does not stay angry. He does not deal with us as our sins deserve; He does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve. For as the skies are high above the earth, so his loyal love towers over his faithful followers. As far as the eastern horizon is from the west, so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers. For he knows what we are made of; He realizes we are made of dust.

Because the Lord is compassionate, merciful, patient, and He has a “great loyal love:

  • He does not always accuse.
  • He doesn’t stay angry.
  • He doesn’t deal with us as our sins deserve.
  • He doesn’t repay us as our misdeeds deserve.
  • He removes the guilt of our sin.

Why does God do this?  It’s because it’s His character to do so, but there is another reason:  He knows who you are—a fragile pile of dust.   When you fail, God could sweep you up and toss you aside, but He is compassionate, merciful, patient, and He has a “great loyal love” for you.

On your own; in your frail strength; and in your confused wisdom, the best you can do is to make a mud pie out of your life.  Then, when the storms of life come, you’re just a muddy mess.  You’re like the prodigal son who wallowed in the pig pen of life and ate the swill and hog slop with the rest of the pigs.

But, like the prodigal,  something wonderful can happen that will change your life.  You can remember that the Father is compassionate, merciful, patient, and He has a “great loyal love” for you, and you can go home to the Father’s house:  “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on his faithful followers. For he knows what we are made of; He realizes we are made of dust.”