To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 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. (Psalm 25:1-5 ESV).
“Waiting on the Lord” may be one of the most misunderstood principles of the Christian life. Our reading today, written by David, contains two essential truths that help us with this principle. First, the Lord leads us, and second, we must wait for him.
Being led anywhere implies movement; and, waiting certainly indicates no movement. This paradox at first glance seems impossible to reconcile. However, we do this all the time. We can be hiking on a trail while “waiting” for the next signpost to see where the trail leads. The trick is to not be overconfident and turn before we’re given directions. Most of the time we simply rush headlong ahead, and that is the antithesis of waiting. Some of my worst mistakes in life have been made while on the right path, but going too fast to notice the “turn here” signs!
Some mat ask what happens if the signpost doesn’t show up? Rest assured, it always does, when we look for it in faith and wait for it patiently. C. S. Lewis has an analogy that is instructive in this regard. If a friend whom we know and trust says he will meet us at a certain time and place and then fails to show up, we do not immediately accuse him of being a liar and untrustworthy. We know he’ll either be there or have a very good explanation. And God will lead us, as he has promised, because he always keeps his word.
Truthfully I am more concerned with not wanting to go in the direction of the signpost. Jonah was like that. There was no doubt in the path God wanted him to travel. He just didn’t want to go there. In fact, he was rebellious enough that he went the opposite direction. We know how that worked out. The belly of a fish can be a very unpleasant place to be. Knowing that God has a fish just our size if it becomes necessary ought to give us pause as we make our decisions. Today’s reading is a great prayer to remind us to walk along with the Lord, waiting for only His direction for every step of the way.
I know that’s my desire, especially in this year of crossroads in my life. “Retirement” is something I’ve never done before. It will be interesting to see how much I have learned through the years about waiting and walking. For now, let me encourage you to make it your priority to wait on the Lord while moving forward in the presence of the Holy Spirit!
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