"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning."
I am not one who enjoys waiting. If I have a doctor's appointment or an appointment to fix my car, I take a book with me because simply sitting there, for me, is a torture worse than listening to someone dragging their finger nails on a chalkboard... or maybe the music playing while waiting on hold on the phone (it is a toss-up).If you doubt my discomfort with waiting, just ask my family. Whether it is in the car waiting for my daughter to come from the house after the "fifteen minute warning" for leaving, waiting in traffic, waiting at a restaurant to be seated, and so forth and so on, in my soul there is not much hope stepping forward.
I have to work at allowing my soul to wait in the midst of agonizing times. One of those ways is to simply sit (or stand), wait, and listen. When in a line at the grocery store, I stand in the line watching what people are putting on the belt to be scanned. I listen to the interaction of the cashier with the customer. When my time comes, whether I have been standing for a long time or not, I will graciously smile at the cashier and engage them in conversation. Then I wait and I listen.
In our spiritual lives, it is sometimes hard to wait upon God to respond to the prayers of our heart. As well, in the midst of waiting, it is sometimes hard to focus on the hope that is ours in God. How do you prepare your soul to wait and listen in hope? I recently read these words that may help each of us understand the psalmist use of "word images" we have from Psalm 130.
In this age of technology — when streetlights cast broad circles across the pavement, and garish neon and subtle night-lights are both, likewise, commonplace -- there aren't many people who stand still anymore and "watch for the morning." But it was common enough in biblical times. Each town of any consequence had its night watchmen: public servants who would stay up all night on guard duty at the town gates. Up and down the streets they would trudge, in the early-morning chill, making sure no enemies were lurking, making sure everything was all right.
Maybe only someone who's worked nights can truly tell what the psalmist is talking about. The sentry on the Army post knows all about it: how the hours drag on, how the senses get sharpened in the silence, how even the crunch of boot-heel on gravel sounds like it carries for miles.
Anyone who's ever kept bedside vigil with someone who's dying knows it too. Such a one knows how, in the wee hours, the mind plays tricks on you -- how you hear imaginary, muffled conversations out in the hallway, how absurd images pass before your mind's eye.
That's what it's like to wait for the Lord.
This Sunday we will be engaging ourselves into what it means to "wait for the Lord" from the psalmist in Psalm 130. If last Sunday's annual congregational meeting is any indication of how we will be "actively waiting and listening" for God's direction this coming program year, then we are spot on with the words of the psalmist! While we lift up our prayers for our leadership, our finances, our search process, and our vision, we will continue to move forward in faith, and actively listen to where God is calling us.
On another note — Thank you all for the anniversary and birthday wishes! The cards and gift cards were a pleasant surprise. I felt like I was "blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved."