Well, it’s been a year. Back in the fall of 2016, I made some big changes for my personal website and my weekly newsletter. The biggest was to more intentionally focus on helping Christians fight the good fight. What is that fight?
To master our will and hearts and minds and focus them on our reason for living. Our cause for joy. And the person for whom we have reason to celebrate this time of year (and all the year long).
My goal is to disciple Christians by encouraging depth & focus in the digital age. And to be discipled myself in like manner.
We started out this year talking about seeking God. But the truth is, sometimes we seek and do not find. At least, not right away. This leads me to the focus for the end of this year.
To Wait Upon The Lord
Waiting is so against our nature. And our culture. Seize the day!
There is a fierce battle being waged over something precious: our attention. The enemy wants nothing more than to keep our minds scattered and distracted, for us to give up on waiting. Heck, we so often never even get started on waiting.
But we must realize that truly seeking the divine presence will often require that we wait. And that is a big part of what the season of Advent is all about. It might be a repetitive message, one we hear year after year. But it bears repeating; it’s vital to our walk.
There are a lot of verses in Scripture that convey this tension where the saints of God eagerly and enduringly wait for his presence. Here are a few that come to mind.
Gen 49:18 where Jacob mentions waiting while giving his blessing to his sons. The Psalms are full of this type of language, but see 5:3, 42:5, and 130:5 specifically. Isaiah is also often mentioning this idea, the most famous being 40:31 and the most poignant is the short chapter 64. The minor prophets mention more of the same, Micah saying it best in 7:7. And Paul repeats it through his epistles.
But the two that caught my heart this past year are these. David knocks it out of the park in Psalm 62 (verses 5–7 shown here).
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
And Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, who had the most externally miserable life we see in the Bible, speaks out light and truth and unshakeable hope in the midst of lamenting. Lamentations is not a book I quote often, but as I read through it this year, 3:25–26 jumped off the pages and grabbed me by the ears.
Here was a guy who was instructed to warn his people about their ways, had to watch them ignore him (like all the prophets before him), then had to watch foreign armies conquer their city and take much of the people away. He endured famine during the siege. He was accused of being a traitor trying to defect, then thrown into a well. He spent time in prison. When he counselled those left behind in Jerusalem to stay put, they took him prisoner and headed for Egypt. Through it all, he wept for his people and what he knew was to come.
In Lamentations, we see him crying out and recounting all that has happened to him and his people. These are not the words of a joyful man.
I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
But suddenly in chapter 3, he preaches a sermon. To himself. Likely to whoever would read these words. But mostly to himself.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Those last 2 lines have been with me this fall.
Many of these saints of old waited amidst persecution. They waited even while they knew they were being punished for the nation’s sins against their covenant keeping God.
Us? We try to wait before we allow ourselves to be distracted with the newest shiny bauble or app or productivity method. More than anything, I want 2018 to be a year of waiting. Like the author of Lamentations, I want to preach this reminder to myself again and again.
If we are his, (big s) Salvation is already attained by his work. But I want wait for his salvation in various circumstances. And most of all, I want to wait for his presence.