Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help! Listen hard! Open your ears! Listen to my cries for mercy. If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped. I pray to God — my life a prayer — and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning. O Israel, wait and watch for God — with God's arrival comes love, with God's arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it — he'll redeem Israel, buy back Israel from captivity to sin.
And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. (Psalm 130 & Job 38:1, The Message)
I had two events come across my life this week that represented the end of a season of waiting. The first event pretty much pales in comparison with the second, but it had me thinking so I'll share both of them anyway. My trusty, old 4-Runner clicked over 200,000 miles this week. I was stopped at lights at just the right intervals that I could take pictures with my phone at 199,999 and 200,000 on the odometer. It has taken the better part of fourteen years for this to happen. My daughter commented that there would likely be a whole lot more miles on it when she gets her first chance at driving some three years down the road. And, no, God did not speak to me at the traffic light on this one.
The second event truly does embodies much more closely the kind of waiting season we talked about last week. My sister-in-law's father passed into the presence of his Creator. Don had been less than healthy on many fronts, and the waiting had been not so much his season, but the season for many others. As I chatted with a niece, she reflected how the day had been filled with times of tears and times of joy. Another niece posted a fairly recent picture where her Grampy had donned sunglasses just like the two girls in the frame with him. The grief for those left on Earth will continue, but for Don, the ultimate waiting is now over. And it ended with the voice of God welcoming him to his new home.
Anyone who has studied the Bible to any extent at all will likely turn to Job as the most accurate portrait of waiting and patience. Most of us know the story very well, but we don't always get a clear grasp of just what Job went though during his season of waiting. Job was after answers ... he wanted specifically the answer to the question "Why, God?" His friends (if we can call them that) had plenty of answers ... read the whole book to see what God thought of them when He ended Job's wait ... but Job wasn't satisfied. Somehow, deep in his soul, he knew that only God could tell him what was going on. And so God did ... beginning in what we have as the thirty-eighth chapter, God rises up and speaks out of the center of a huge storm. Job gets in only one more brief phrase, and that is to wish he had never spoken word one in the first place. God explains, in so many terms, that Job is in no position to ask "why" as he doesn't understand the most basic things God has done to set the world in motion and keep it there. And then, when He is finished speaking, God restores Job and rebukes the "friends" who chided him.
Back to the Psalm (which a couple translations note as one of pilgrimage, specifically one to Jerusalem), the Psalmist is crying out from the depths of his discouragement. He is acknowledging his time of waiting and what he has learned from it. He knows it isn't over yet, but he triumphantly clings to the promise of God to step in, speak, and restore once the waiting his over. He knows he hasn't acted perfectly, but he also sees that "forgiveness is your habit" and trusts in God to redeem. The lessons of the season of waiting have found their root and the promise of a word from God is imminent.
I need to view my travels on the Crooked Path as a classroom of waiting and seek out the lessons God wants me to learn. Like Job, I can ask "why" but I must be ready to hear answers I may not like or even understand. Like the Psalmist, I can rest assured that God has not left or gone to sleep. He is still very active and will speak on a moment's notice. And, like Don, when my full season of waiting is over, I will find the Crooked Path ends in the arms of my Father who will speak to me like the son I am. For me, it's a vision ... for Don, the wait is over and it is now his reality.
- Have you been asking for God to answer but aren't really prepared to hear what He has to say? Do you believe that your seasons of waiting will end with a word from God?
- Are you in the same desperate state the Psalmist reflects, waiting through the night yet with a great hope for the morning? Have you sat in the quiet and contemplated the lessons God is teaching, all the while trusting in His goodness?
- How's your level of confidence doing? Can you say you really believe that God has "bought you back" and will do so again and again? Do you understand that all your "little seasons of waiting" are just a part of the bigger plan that ends in the arms of your Savior and Lord?
The Message – Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.