Waiting. It conjures images of the doctor’s office lobby, long lines at the supermarket and frustrated crowds loudly asking questions they aren’t getting satisfying answers to.
In the Western world, we are generally impatient. We want what we want right now, and on occasion, we get aggressive about making it happen. That, or we just move on to the next thing that can get us what we want faster, even if it costs us in more ways than one.
We are a distracted, impatient, entitled lot.
The psalmists, albeit from a culture less rapidly moving than our own, frequently write about the practice of waiting, particularly on the Lord. If a person is waiting on the Lord, they are without the power to accomplish what they are waiting for. They don’t know what to do and they want to ensure they are pleasing the LORD with their next move.
Culturally, for us however, there are more than handful of inspirational gurus that cheerlead us to shrug off passive behaviors like waiting. We have to go FULL FORCE to make our dreams a reality!
And so we feel a little conflicted. Why wait? How long should we have to wait? Is waiting simply being passive until things serendipitously go our way? Surely not, right?
The psalmist wants to get at the core of us. We can’t pretend to wait patiently while our twitching eye, chewed up fingernails and tapping foot say otherwise. Our ‘soul’ must wait. Which means that at our core, we are content to come before the LORD first, always. We are content with not knowing the answer for a bit, content with being attentive to the LORD in the meantime, content with not acting prematurely.
It’s not easy to get there. Not to mention that those moments of waiting often coincide with the more pivotal crossroads of life. Some serious mind games may ensue if not countered by the hope found in God’s Word.
In this psalm, there’s a twice repeated visual comparison of a watchman waiting for the morning. It’s an image that makes us think of anticipation, anticipating something that will bring clarity. It’s a watchman’s job to be attentive, alert for possible danger when a city might be susceptible to attack. It requires much vigilance and energy to do this in midst of darkness. The watchman anticipates the morning because he will have more clarity when the sun rises. Nevertheless, he is attentive while he waits in the darkness when people might otherwise let their guard down.
And so for us, in moments where we lack clarity, we need to give our attention wholeheartedly to the LORD and his Word, and pursue direction and understanding from Him.
I wonder how things would be different in the world if we were all a little better at slowing down and filtering our decisions before the LORD before acting.