December 11, 2022
Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-6
For three weeks now, we have been looking at something that is usually seen as a mere annoyance at best and a total roadblock at worst. It is something that keeps us from getting on with what we consider essential in our lives! I’m talking about the many times in our lives when we are forced to wait! The “not now” season. The times when we have been anticipating taking a step in what looks to us like the RIGHT WAY and life has just thrown an insurmountable “NO!” in our way!
I am here to say that WHEN (not IF) that happens, the call to wait is not the voice of a vindictive God who delights in throwing obstacles in our path to see us squirm. Nor is it like the teasing Dad who, on Christmas morning takes forever to announce the beginning of the gift exchange. This waiting of God, is the call of One who is so in love with us that this lover of ours is longing to transform those seasons into some of the greatest growth times we ever encounter.
I’m not saying God creates these obstacles that cause us to have to wait! I am saying that God redeems those obstaces right before our eyes by turning them into instruments that shape and nurture us!
The Psalmist (maybe David) says to us this morning: Always I will lift up my soul to you, eternal one, because you are my god and I put my trust in you. I hope you hear that the way I believe it was intended. This is a conscious, intentional act (in the middle of stressful times and times when we are forced to wait) to “put my trust in you, God.”
And, the Psalmist points out that when I do that – when I, with intention and with boldness, place my trust in an invisible God instead of taking things in my own hand, I risk the ridicule of my friends and those who know me. So, the writer adds: do not let me be humiliated. Do not let my enemies celebrate at my expense.
Do you think this is something that I, as your pastor, say lightly? Put your trust in God! You know what happens when we put our trust in God and things don’t turn out as we thought they should, don’t you? People say: “I knew it! That behavior is only for fools!”
But to truly put your trust in God, we must do it without any strings attached. We put our trust in God NO MATTER how the outcome looks to the rest of the world! Lauren Daigle sings in “Trust in You” when you don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move, when you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through, when you don’t give the answers as I cry out to you, I will trust, I will trust in You.
The Psalmist goes on to say in the 4th and 5th verses: Demonstrate your ways, o eternal one. Teach me to understand so I can follow, ease me down the path of your truth. Feed me your word because you are the true god who has saved me. I wait all day long, hoping, trusting in you.
Oh, surely, here is the place where that Psalmist, maybe more that 2500 years ago, becomes irrelevant and out of touch with modernity!
“Are you kidding, David? Are you actually asking thoughtful 21st Century people – soccer moms, VP’s of corporations, school teachers, busy grandparents, Dads who have to make a living, to put themselves on record as being students of God’s ways, committed to alter their behavior according to what they learn as such a student? Are you crazy? Modern people don’t do such things, do they? Yes, that is exactly what I am asking.”
Did you notice that the writer said: I wait all day long, hoping, trusting in you. That is a frame of mind that most moderns do not understand and do not experience. A mind-set, a lifestyle where we develop the ability to be present all of our waking time on two different levels at once.
On the surface, we are wide awake and present to the moment and to what is going on around us. We are not “so spiritual that we are no earthly good” kind of people. We have learned to practice our relationship with God in the physical world where Jesus lived and practiced. Jesus was, like few others, intimately aware of those physical realities – the people and their needs directly in his line of vision, the joys and the sorrows of his own and of those he came in contact with, the challenges of the natural world (storms on Sea of Galilee, and the diseases of the body and mind in his time), and both the joy as well as the frustration of real interaction with disciples and his enemies. He knew all of that and he lived in that world to the fullest.
But he knew another world as well. More real than the physical and the natural worlds. He knew and lived in constant touch with the spiritual world – the moment to moment contact with the One who sent him and the One who sustained and guided him hour by hour, minute by minute.
How did he do that? I can’t say. I can only say that I’ve experienced that dual awareness at times. Enough to know that it is possible, but not enough to be able to claim that I practice it regularly. Nor did the Psalmist.
He continued to ask for help on this front: “Demonstrate your ways” “Teach me to understand” “Ease me down the path of your truth” and “Feed me your word.”
That, my friends, is “Waiting on the Lord.” That is the work of Advent and of all of the other seasons of our lives.