And so we wait.

And so we wait. The heavenly lives we live right now are built on waiting. We wait for all the Shepherd has promised for this earthly life — the strength to get through this day or the answer to a prayer tomorrow or a merciful miracle next week. And we wait for much more. We wait for the grand culmination of all of God’s plan—that plan for the redemption of the human race and a creation fresh and new. We wait for God’s justice and the full inheritance promised the children of God. We wait to live in glorious realities yet to come.

But what is ahead tomorrow? Next year? In the next realm? We live in the now and we’re often perplexed, frustrated, saddened, or angered by the details of now.

God has not left us to grope about blindly in the dark.

He has told us plainly who we are. He’s told us who He is. He’s told us His plan for creation.

But still we wonder about the next step. What is ahead in the next hour? We are much concerned about the specifics of our own story within God’s greater story.

We hear the King say, Trust me. We know He lives right here with us. He has the ultimate authority over all of life and death. He is more powerful than any evil we face, and His power works in us.

He is King. And He says, Trust me.

But…why should we?

In our human relationships, we learn to trust as we learn to know who people are. The better we know a person, the better judgment we can make about how much they can be trusted.

So we need to know who it is that says, Trust me.

We need to know if we can trust the Builder of the bridges of our hope.

Because if we can trust the Builder, we can trust the bridges.

That’s where we’re going next week.

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalm 119:81)

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© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

“Trust me”

When you wait for something, you expect it, you know it’s coming. Wait for God. Expect His rescue. Know that He keeps His word.

King David had a whole lot of tough weeks; at times he was even so discouraged or frustrated that he felt God had forgotten him. But he always knew rescue would come. His hope was in one and only one Person, and this made his hope unshakeable.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
(Psalm 62:5-6)

Wait quietly? I am much better at stewing and worrying and, really, getting quite carried away with my own fretting.

But I hear these words from King Jesus: “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” (See John 14:1)

There it is in a nutshell. That’s faith. “Trust me.”

He says Trust me when the waiting has been long.
He says Trust me when our old nature rises up and stomps on our best intentions.
He says Trust me when we are doubting, when we’re discouraged, when we feel too weak for the battle.
He says Trust me when we’re haunted by the past, fretting about the present, or worrying about the future.

“Don’t let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; and trust in me.”

Trusting Jesus is not a last resort or clinging to a straw when we are desperate. Trusting Him is the ONE place where He wants us to live. Trusting Him is the ONLY place where we can live fully the life He died to give us.

While we wait quietly, this assurance will come.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalm 119:81)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Anthem for Those Who Wait

I learned all the words before I knew anything of their meaning. During most of my growing up years, our church used the same two hymnbooks. Many of the songs I knew by memory, every line, before I was twenty. “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was one of my favorites.

Then I learned the meaning of the words in that song, because I lived them. Now, it is still one of my favorites because it voices so much of my own journey. I think it could be called the “Pilgrim’s Anthem.”

We would be wise, I think, to make more of the Psalms a part of our worship. Many were written by David, who was just as imperfect as I and yet shared a very special relationship with God. He wrote from the depths of his own experience—and many of his experiences are also ours.

Would someone please put more of the Psalms to music? Not just little snippets, but entire psalms, because often it is in the entire song that we find the deepest meanings.

As in Psalm 25 and Psalm 40. Both or either of these could be called the “Anthem of Those Who Wait.”

Take a look at Psalm 25. We find these words in the opening verses:

O LORD, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
All day long I put my hope in you.

What wonderful sentiments! That’s where we want to be while we wait, right?

But take a closer look. Life is not all that wonderful for the psalmist at this point. Look at verse 16: I’m alone and in deep distress. Verse 17: My problems are going from bad to worse. Verse 18: Oh, Lord! Feel my pain, see my trouble, forgive my sin! Verse 19: My enemies viciously hate me. Verse 20: Help! I need your protection!

Do you hear the anguish? I would say this is a soul who is waiting.

Yet…

And here’s where we can learn from David. This song can be the pattern for us as we wait.

** First, the singer of this song is in it for the long haul. Things aren’t looking good, but he constantly and consciously, hour by hour, all day long, puts his hope in God. As a matter of fact, he begins the entire psalm by saying, “I’m handing my whole life over to you.” That, my friends, is confident hope.

** Then, he makes a point of remembering all the things God has already done and all the times God has rescued him in the past.

** And he constantly voices the goodness and love of God. He focuses on the Lord’s faithfulness, His guidance, His mercy, His tender care of His people. (This is very much like our meditations yesterday. I guess we were on the right track.)

Psalm 40 follows the same pattern. Either one would be a great prayer or anthem to make our own as we wait. Psalm 40 adds a line I love: He has given me a new song to sing, a new hymn of praise to our God.

I think that’s what happens to us when we wait in the spirit of Psalm 25 and Psalm 40.

We learn new songs of praise! No matter how He answers our prayers, no matter when He answers, His grace fills our waiting and our hope is strengthened and we learn even more of how high and deep and wide His love for us truly is.

While we wait, we learn new songs.

And I have to smile. Because both psalms end exactly as we often end our prayers, with just a bit of prodding of our Father: Please, hurry up and do something!

***

A postscript:
As a writer, sometimes I’m obsessive about finding the right word. So when I named these psalms anthems I wanted to be sure that it was a better word than, say, hymn.

I looked it up. Lo and behold! I never knew this. Anthem is not only a noun, it’s also a verb, and it means “to celebrate with or in an anthem.” I’ve never heard it used this way, but Yes! Let these psalms be part of the celebration of those who wait!

 

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalm 119:81)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Reassurance while we wait

There are times when our hearts need to hear the voice of someone who we know loves us no matter what. You know those times—when you have to talk to your sister or your spouse or your friend.

Just so with the children of God.

Last week, we focused on trials and troubles. Waiting on God to act can, in itself, be a trial, a test of our endurance. While we wait, we are tempted, prodded with doubts, frustration, questioning. There’s the temptation to idolatry—going to someone or something other than God to give us answers, to help us and save us.

As we wait, we need to hear the voice of Someone who loves us.

What do we wait for? Well … everything. We wait for the fulfillment of the promises He’s made. All those hopes we have already looked at, we depend on God to keep His word. Sometimes we wait for guidance in a personal dilemma, we wait for Him to act in situations, we wait for Him to change us, we wait for the good things to emerge from hard places. We wait for hearts of stone to change, we wait for a cloud of grief to lift, we wait …

Sometimes God acts quickly. Sometimes, we think He is much too slow.

And as we wait and search His words and hear His voice, what reassurances do we have?

Here are some of my favorites. These passages speak peace into my soul when I do not yet have answers, when I’m feeling tossed about by doubt or frustration, or when, like the psalmist, I wonder why God doesn’t do something. These reassurances let me rest while waiting.

He watches over me with unfailing love. (Psalm 33:18-19)

He is good to those who depend on Him. (Lamentations 3:25)

When we come to Him, He shows us love and compassion. (Isaiah 30:18)

He is full of tenderness and mercy. (James 5:11)

He keeps His word. (Isaiah 30:18)

Those who come to Him for help will find great blessing. (Isaiah 30:18)

He hears our anguish and cares about it. (Psalm 40:1 and Psalm 31:7)

He acts in response to our cry for help and gives us new songs. (Psalm 40:2,4)

He has plans for us, and they are plans for our good. (Romans 8:28, Psalm 40:5)

He will give strength and endurance (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

We can be confident that we will see His goodness. (Psalm 27:13-14)

We can pour out our hearts to Him—there’s no better place to go for help. (Psalm 62:1, 5-8)

He is the great, almighty Creator, and He knows my troubles and will give me new strength and endurance beyond my own human limits (Isaiah 40:26-31; Colossians 1:11)

My God can burst the heavens and shake the foundations of the earth—and He acts on my behalf! (Isaiah 64:1-4)

He is always working in me, towards the fulfillment of His plans (Philippians 1:6)

He says, “Don’t be afraid or discouraged. I’m here to help you and give you strength.” (Isaiah 41:10)

We are His people. We share in the inheritance of everything He’s promised. (Colossians 1:11-12)

If you’re waiting in His presence, you’ll find words meant for you … from Someone who loves you.

 

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalm 119:81)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)

Waiting in the presence of the Lord…all day long

I’m doubting. It could be that I mis-titled this section. Is wait a word that is no longer meaningful to our minds? Has it become too old-fashioned? Too counter-culture?

Oh, but wait …

We do have a meaningful new phrase in today’s dialogue:

“Wait for it …” 

So perhaps we do still know the meaning of wait?

I don’t think so. After all, even that new phrase has reduced the meaning of wait to “hold on for a few seconds.”

Those who wait on the Lord most often have to wait more than a few seconds.

 

***

Are you waiting on the Lord? What does waiting mean to you?

In both the Hebrew and the Greek, several words are all translated into our English wait. They all carry implications of confidence that something will come to pass. Their meaning also implies a “seeing” or “watching” of something. They hold expectation.

And we’re right back to our definition of hope. We live in great expectation. We hope. We wait. Because we know it will come to pass. We can, with our eyes of faith, “see” it.

On second thought, maybe that phrase “Wait for it…” is a good mantra for children of God. Because it tells you: Yes, you can depend on this. The fulfillment of His promise is definitely coming.

We have wonderful and comforting promises from God for those who wait.

But it is at that point of waiting that we often falter.

I’ve chosen the Psalm prayer this week because it’s one I need. I often want to complain to God: My hope is slipping away. I’m worn out by waiting, and I’m just holding on by my fingernails. Why does this go on so long? Why don’t You do something now? 

And then the enemy, with glee, I imagine, slips in and starts scattering doubt through my thoughts.

 

***

So how do we hang in there? How do we hold on to our hope? How do we pray the last half of that prayer that declares, in spite of everything, that we still believe the promises and wait in great expectation?

Willpower will not keep us in the race. Willpower is too easily convinced to quit. We cannot hold onto our hope if it all depends on us.

The only thing that keeps us hanging in there is hanging onto the Vine.

Patience (and waiting) is one of the fruits of Christ’s Spirit living in us—the Vine’s life flowing into the branch. He gives us the power to wait. When we hold onto the Vine, He holds us.

David knew the importance of staying connected to the one who gives life. He wrote Psalm 37, chock full of promises for God’s people. But I think this line holds a key to all those promises:

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. (Psalm 37:7)

There’s our answer—in the presence of the Lord. We simply must stay in His presence, otherwise, we find it impossible to wait.

When my hope is slipping, when I start doubting, it’s because I’ve spent too little time in His presence.

Oh, I know, God is always present with me. Scripture assures us of that. But I am not always present with Him! I go wandering off, too often and too far.

Again, David gives us a good model. In Psalm 25:5 he writes:

All day long I put my hope in you.

That line creates a picture for me of someone who is consciously, consistently, and repeatedly handing his hope over to God.

Here, Lord, I am placing my hopes and expectations on You and you alone.

Not just once, but continually, all day long.

I think this would be a good practice for us to follow: Remaining in the Vine, drawing our life and hope from Him, continually going back to Him and affirming that we place all our hope on Him.

I do get worn out with waiting … but I’m going to continually, hour by hour, again and again, put my hope in Him.

It’s the only way I can truly, expectantly wait.

 

 

 

Psalm Prayer:

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
(Psalm 119:81)

*

© Elaine Starner 2015 Photo credits: Thanks to Claire Pridgeon, Paul Stutzman, Lana Turner, and Mary Jane Smith for sharing photography I’ve used on this site. (Click on each name to see more.)