Got a sinking feeling? Pesky premonitions? Just a little nervous? That’s nothing!
Here are seven sure-fire tips to fuel that anxiety. Continue reading
Got a sinking feeling? Pesky premonitions? Just a little nervous? That’s nothing!
Here are seven sure-fire tips to fuel that anxiety. Continue reading
I never cease to be fascinated by themes throughout the Bible (look for posts on this in the future!) One predominant theme that seems to shout at me lately is waiting on the Lord.
I was having one of those days yesterday where I was moving about smartly and all was well for the moment when… crash! I hit another catastrophe. Another obstacle! Another spot where I was forced to mark time.
Have you ever had one of those days?
I took a few minutes to find a solitary place and think. I opened to the Psalm that has been my meditation and prayer lately: Psalm 25. I kept reading all the way through Psalm 27. In Psalm 27, this idea of waiting is repeated at the end of the chapter:
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
~Psalm 27.11-14, NKJV
“Wait on the Lord.”
“Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart.”
Are you despairing today? Have you lost heart? Are you afraid? Take time to meditate on this passage.
In verse 11 of the above passage it says, “teach me your way, O Lord.” This is also expressed in Psalm 25:4-5: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths; Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
When God teaches us His way, He has to draw us out of the world. We have to walk the path of faith. That path looks scary and uncertain at times, doesn’t it? He calls us to step out on a stormy ocean, disregarding the obvious threat of gravity and powerful waves. Who created the waves and gravity? Who has charge of our future?
God wants to teach us His way: TRUST.
He wants us to trust Him in good times and bad. He wants us to trust Him above all other supports. The moment we lose all our helpers is the moment our faith is tested to the uttermost. Will we wait on Him in trust?
“I would have lost heart…”
I initially read this passage from the New King James Version. The words “I would have lost heart” were italicized in my Bible. Whenever the NKJV italicizes something it means that it was not in every manuscript or added to enhance understanding. I often do not count on those italicized phrases to establish any sort of point because it was not in the original.
I did a comparison between three translations (NASB, ESV & NKJV) to see how that particular spot was translated. You can see the full context comparison here.
In the footnotes of the ESV, it says, “other Hebrew manuscripts Oh! Had I not believed.” My conclusion is that those italicized words were added by the translators to enhance meaning. They don’t detract from the passage, but I think those italicize words clarify why it was important for the psalmist to believe that He would look on the goodness of the Lord in the context of the passage. He believes that God will deliver Him and so He does not go out and commit suicide in His despair. He trusts. He does not lose heart.
Waiting on the Lord can be a challenge. Many kings and people committed great errors because they did not wait on God’s timing or seek His counsel before acting [Think Abraham and Hagar].
Let the Lord teach you His way. He wants us to wait on Him in faith. He’s teaching me that lesson even now and the Bible is showing me that I need to seek His counsel and wait. It’s hard to wait in our busy world, but we need to learn to slow down and seek God.
While you are waiting, think of the times when the Lord has provided for you or delivered you from trouble:
Are you being taught to wait?
Are you seeking God’s way or your own?
The glare of the sun bore down on the crew while the wind remained noticeably absent. Stagnant air hovered oppressively over the dispirited men.
The waiting was pure agony.
The object of their mission had eluded them for weeks. Now, in this pond of an ocean, it was nowhere to be seen, assuredly sailing farther and farther beyond reach. They could do nothing to move their massive vessel. It sat motionless in the calm water as though permanently affixed to the sea bed.
The sails of the ship sagged from the rigging while sailors paced aimlessly about ship or sulked in whatever shade could be had.
They had not been idle; they’d scrubbed the decks, caulked the cracks, cleaned the cannons, mended sails, run drills, polished every surface and tended every duty. There was little more to be done. At any moment they could set sail, if only the wind would appear!
The steward had informed the captain only that morning of the dwindling rations. Only 3 days of food and 4 days of water. The nearest landmass was a 2 days journey. If they didn’t move soon… the captain quickly banished the unpleasant thought from his mind.
He absorbed his surroundings with mounting frustration.
The waiting would surely kill them.
When the doldrums had descended, he had done everything to keep the men distracted. There was always work to be done aboard ship. But now, ideas were becoming as scarce as tasks. He and his crew had been on half rations for several days. If they did not sail soon, those rations would be but a mere memory. Disease, death and mutiny would surely ensue.
This interminable, infernal wait!
He exhaled sharply.
The captain closed his eyes, breathed deeply, and prayed for the third time that day, lifting up the deep distress of his soul to the One who had never abandoned him.
At that very moment, he felt the gentlest caress of a breeze.
A mere breath of wind.
His eyes flew open and instinctively shot upward. The ivory sails undulated and slowly began to stiffen as the strength of the wind intensified. The men, stirred by the soft breeze rose hopefully and a cheer swelled from among them. The water wrinkled with ripples as the bulk of the ship slowly broke against it.
It was as though a skilled hand had brushed the strings of a harp. Hope revived. The captain nodded at his lieutenant and the young man began barking orders at the crew. The westerly wind gently pushed the ship forward as all hands eagerly made preparations to be underway once more.
The wait was over at last.
Now they had only to replenish their supplies and begin pursuit of the goal once more.
Have you ever felt like the captain of that ship?
Have you ever found yourself stuck, dead in the water, waiting for what seemed like an eternity?
There are storms and then there are doldrums.
Have you ever found yourself waiting in the middle of the storm? The wait can be terrifying as every power on earth seems poised to crush you. In those times, you have to focus on the One who is in the boat with you. You have to persist in your request for Him to “wake” and calm the storm, trusting in His power to save.
Then, there are the times of menacing stillness. These may be spans of time in which you can do nothing but mark time, and take care of the few things within your power.
Are you, even now, sitting on a boat that is fixed in place?
Are you caring for special needs children? Waiting for a response to a job application? Watching a loved one on hospice care grow closer to death?
Are you waiting?
What are you doing while you wait?
There is cooking and cleaning, kids to care for, job applications to be completed, paperwork to be filled out. Are you moving smartly about ship, trying to keep the oppressive stillness at bay?
Many years ago, author and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot hosted a radio show called “Gateway to Joy.” She had a saying, “Do the next thing.” When your despair threatens to consume you, don’t just walk around wringing your hands—do something. Mop the floor, wipe those runny little noses, change the bed linens, read a story to your child, read the Word to your loved one as they approach death, organize a cabinet, prepare food for the next few days, and pray.
In the past week, I have been meditating on and praying aloud Psalm 25. I have a copy of the Psalm hanging on the refrigerator door at my eye level. Every time I open it, I see part of the Psalm. Here is a portion of it:
Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in Thee:
let me not be ashamed,
let not mine enemies triumph over me.
Yea, let none that wait on Thee be ashamed:
let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.
Shew me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths.
Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on Thee do I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving kindnesses;
for they have been ever of old.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions:
according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way.
The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach his way.
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth
unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
I used the King James Version primarily for the poetic factor. (Read the full text of the Psalm here at Bible Gateway. The link should take you to a side-by-side comparison of the King James Version and the English Standard Version.)
I learned a song of the same title a long time ago, and it was the remembrance of that song that lead me to the reading of the Psalm.
In my physical Bible (as opposed to my digital one) there was a footnote for verse 3 that says “wait for You in faith.” Perhaps one of my readers who have access to Bible reference materials can tell me what the original says; I have not been able to find anything else that indicates the presence of that phrase in the original. However, I do think the meaning is applicable: We have to wait on the Lord in faith, otherwise we will lose heart.
Notice verses 3 and 4: In verse 3 (using the ESV) it reads: “Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed.” In the next verse (verse 4), the writer asks for the Lord to reveal His ways. While we wait, are we only looking for the solution here on earth or do we ask the Lord to lead us in His ways? Are we seeking His purpose or are we solely focused on what is immediately in front of us? It’s natural during a period of great anxiety or grief to look inward. Take some time to look upward.
Lift up your soul to God. Lift up your requests, your burdens, your anxieties, your frustrations—lift them UP.
I would like you to notice something else about this Psalm. In the ESV version, the phrase “steadfast love” is used three times. I have always believed that if God repeats Himself, He is emphasizing something important. Steadfast love is a strong, steady and reliable love. Anyone who has lived long on the earth is well-acquainted with the failings of human love. Even the truest of loves will let you down at times, but God’s love never weakens.
Lift up your heart to the one who loves you with an unfailing (steadfast) love. He cares. He has orchestrated the perfect moment to supply the breath of wind to move you forward.
If you are slacking off and neglecting your ship, you won’t be ready to set sail when that wind comes. Prepare yourself for God’s purpose, even though you may not have an inkling of where it will take you. Take this time of stillness to make yourself ready.
Another well-loved passage about waiting is found in Isaiah 40:
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40.28-31, NKJV (Read full chapter here).
Are you waiting?
Wait on the Lord, my very dear friends. He will not allow you to be put to shame as you wait on Him in faith. Do not grow weary while waiting. Meditate on these scriptures while you wait. Commit them to your heart. Pray them to the Lord, reminding Him that you are waiting for His excellent timing.
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Thomas Chisolm “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
As a young child, I can remember looking in awe at a beautiful sunset and my mother telling me that God was an amazing artist. Men could only copy what God painted everyday in the sky. The variety of colors, the variance of light from season to season–no man has ever been able to create (out of nothing) anything so beautiful.
I also remember a young preacher telling me about an experience he had while watching a gorgeous San Diego sunset over the Pacific. A variety of people were watching the sunset, and as he heard all the “oohs” and “ahhs” he mischievously blurted out, “It’s amazing how all this happened by accident!” Everyone present began to emphatically contradict him. “How can you say such a thing?!” and, “How can you deny there is a higher power when you see something like this?!” Of course, he himself didn’t believe that it had occurred by accident. His point to us youngsters was this: it is very hard for people to witness something so awesome and flat out deny its source.
From my youth until now, I have always been drawn to nature as a reminder of God’s wisdom and power. It has testified to me time and time again that God is the creator and that nature was not the result of some random accident. When I was thirteen, I was faced with a science teacher who told our class, “people that believe in God are stupid!” and proceeded to throw all sorts of “evidence” in our faces (some of which is no longer used as evidence in science texts because it has been discredited). Even at that young, influential stage in my life, I could not shake the conviction that God was and is the creator. I had seen enough of nature to understand and believe.
When I reread the lyrics to the song, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, a very obvious truth occurred to me: The testimony of the earth and the rest of the universe isn’t limited to God’s wisdom and power. The earth and skies also testify of God’s faithfulness and consistency.
Even in my brief stint on the earth, I have never observed a season skipped. Occasionally there are freak snow storms in Summer or heat spells in winter, but they are always preceded or followed by the correct weather patterns. Animals hibernate in the same pattern, trees and plants go dormant in keeping with the seasons according to their design. Ancient secular documents testify to these truths as well. The seasons are orderly and have always been so. We rely on their approach year after year. Our God is a God of order, we can rely on Him as surely as we rely on hot summers days and cold winter nights.
The Sun, Moon and Stars.
These three bodies each follow consistent predictable patterns that humans have relied on for centuries.
The earth orbits the sun every 365.242199 days. Even when you don’t see the sunrise with your own eyes, the sky lightens and you have greater visibility during the daytime hours.
The earth is tilted at an angle of 23.5 degrees. Without that tilt, we wouldn’t have the seasons that we are familiar with. Mathematicians and scientists have analyzed these numbers, patterns and cycles for years and they know everything works with precision and certainty. Likewise, the phases of the moon are so reliable, they are printed on a calendar a year in advance!
What do all these witnesses tell us about God? Is he a God who is whimsical? Capricious? Scatterbrained?
Is our God so orderly and careful that we can count on Him as much as we count on the rising and setting of the sun?
The Manifold Witness of Nature.
All of nature–the trees, the water cycle, the rocks, the animals, the chemicals, all the way down to atomic structure–testify of God’s “faithfulness, mercy, and love.” The song says, “sun, moon and stars…join with all nature in manifold witness.” Yeah, I don’t speak car either, but in this context, manifold means “multiple.” God doesn’t just rely on the Bible to testify of Him. He didn’t rely solely on a few good men to be His witnesses. There is overwhelming testimony to God’s faithfulness. He exists. He is powerful. He is Wise. Artistic… Even… humorous (ever seen a duck-billed platypus?)
People are constantly trying to shout down God. The constant refrain that “there is no evidence of God” is like a child putting its hands over its ears and shouting, “I can’t hear you!” (If they can’t hear, then why do they plug their ears and make lots of noise?)
God has placed evidence of His faithfulness before our very eyes.
We are prone to doubt. It’s a part of our human condition. God calls us to be stronger than that. He asks us to have faith and He does not leave us without any reassurance. When you begin to doubt that God is a faithful, orderly, unchanging God, look up! Look at the sky! The sun testifies. The moon testifies. The stars testify.
They testify this: You can count on God. His coming is as sure as the dawn.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the earth.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
~Psalm 19:1-6 ESV, emphasis mine
When you read the text from Psalm 19, notice the personification given to the heavens. They “declare,” they “proclaim” they “pour out speech” and “their words [go out] to the end of the world.” Even when men and women lived without the Bible, they were not without evidence that Someone exists who is greater than themselves. The sky cries out!
My dear friends be thankful that our God has provided for us such overwhelming testimony to His existence and His constant nature. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. He is still in control now and He always will be.
Do not allow man nor circumstance to destroy your trust in Him. Look up! Let the heavenly bodies be a reminder to you. Look up and have hope. God is faithful and He will be with you to your journey’s end and beyond.