Yesterday evening around 7:00 I made my way to the chapel, striding purposefully across the lawn, unaware that I was being watched. The sun felt warm on my back, the wind invigorating…my thoughts in the clouds.
Suddenly a voice called, “Hey!” “Hey, you got a minute?” I turned to see a man walking across the lawn. I met him halfway and shook his hand. “You got a minute?” he said. “Sure,” I replied. He made some small talk about the day, the sun and beauty of birds, and then said, “I know this sounds weird, but I wanted to talk to someone about faith.” “I’m thinking of leaving Christianity, but I promised that I’d talk to someone today -- before turning away.” “Will you talk to me?” he asked.
I nodded, trying to be sensitive.
“But you kind of looked like you were going somewhere,” he said. “You sure you have time to talk?” “I was on my way to the chapel,” I said. “Why don’t you come in with me and sit awhile?” “God and I aren’t so much on speaking terms,” he replied. “But I’ll come in and talk to you.” And so he did.
We sat in the quiet lamplight of the chapel and he told me his story.
It was a story of pain and heartache…a human story.
And finally, he talked about the straw that broke the camel’s back. He really wanted God to intervene on a specific issue, and he promised the Lord he would pray for 30 days straight. So he prayed…and prayed. 30 days came and went, and he received no answer. And now he sat, holding the shards of a broken faith…a broken man.
“I’ve concluded that God just doesn’t care all that much about personal issues,” he said. “How could God care about me at all, and allow me to go through such things…and then not answer me when I prayed honestly?”
“Is there some reason why I should believe?” he asked. “Or am I just one of the damned?”
His questions came like a flood, and I tried to answer as best I could.
We talked late into the night, and then prayed together.
I took his email, and then he was gone. But he smiled before he left…one of God’s hurting children, struggling to find his way in a world gone wrong.
And today I’ve considered his story. It is fascinating, because though the details are unique, the basic storyline is so human: life, dreams, silence, and waiting on God.
It is dangerous to wait on God! Waiting on God carries all kinds of traps for humans. In waiting, we are tempted…so prone to other voices, so willing to settle for God’s ‘second best’ [or third, fourth, or fifth…etc.] just so long as we can touch, taste and feel an answer! In waiting we are vulnerable to the serpent voice that says, “Did God really say?” “Really now, aren’t the apples good?”
And so it goes -- an age-old story: the danger of waiting on God.
But there is another side to this waiting: the divine side, its delight and blessing.
There are very few things that God is said to delight in, but one thing in which God delights is when His children wait on Him, in faith.
The psalmist says something to the effect that God does not delight in the strength of His creation, but He does delight in ‘those who await His gracious favor.’ Likewise, the prophet Isaiah says that those who wait upon the Lord will ‘renew their strength, and soar on eagle’s wings!’
As I consider this concept of divine waiting, I see three things:
- The temporal aspect: regretfully, waiting takes time! But is over time that the miracle intended by waiting works its transformation in us.
- The expectant aspect: biblical waiting connotes waiting with faith, in hope. In other words, the waiting of a child with complete trust in her father, that good will come!
- The binding aspect: one form of the biblical 'wait' actually means to ‘collect,’ or ‘bind together’ by twisting. It is in waiting that God binds us to Himself, a strong cord of love that cannot be broken!
And here is the great key: God delights in those who wait in hope for Him, for in this waiting, He is binding that soul to Himself. In waiting, the delights of God become our delights, and so He grants the desires of our hearts.
Such soaring! Such eagle strength! Such incredible life!
In waiting, we soar into the divine life, the very life of God. In waiting, we lose the childish, spoiled things of self, and find the highest value of God.
In waiting we find our true self.
Time, hope and binding: these are the waiting delights of God, delights which bring us to ourselves, in Him.