Hurry Up and Wait

emergency concept: girl using a digital generated phone with emergency call on the screen. All screen graphics are made up.

“Hurry! Send help! Someone is trying to kill me!” It sounds like the latest 911 call replayed on your local news, but it’s really a summary of Psalm 70. David didn’t have a smart phone, so he had to appeal to God directly. I’ve been doing some of the same recently, but I’ve also been reading about persistence (Luke 18:3-5), patience (James 5:7-11) and peace (Phil. 4:6-7).

 

How is it that we are told to call upon God like the importunate widow, even to the point of never resting (Is. 62:6), and yet, we are also told in other places to be patient in affliction, to wait on the Lord and to exercise our endurance which builds character? Can the two qualities, which we could almost call patience and impatience, co-exist? Apparently they can, since we are encouraged to both. Psalm 40 provides a good example of serenity cohabiting with eagerness.

 

Perhaps the trick is calling upon God to act quickly without demanding that He do so. When does a sincere prayer morph from a request to a requirement? I think it must be when I stop praying with humility, with open hands, with supplication, and I start to sound shrill and angry. God knows we need His help, and He knows we feel we cannot wait. Yet He wants us to worship Him through the act of presenting those needs and desires. Relationship, intimacy and trust are fostered through this kind of honest communication. Yet He also knows exactly when and how He will meet our requests, and He wants us to wait in hope and peace for that response. Again, relationship, intimacy and trust are kneaded deep into our souls as we do the hard work of waiting. Both/and. Cry out for haste; wait patiently for the Lord. 

 

ladder

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Living in that kind of tension is not generally my strong suit, so I’ve been looking for ways to practice. It’s popular these days to re-purpose something – an old shirt becomes a new pillow, an old ladder becomes a new shelf. Well, Psalm 70 is a perfect psalm to re-purpose for my own needs. When things are hard, it’s easy to be frustrated and prideful rather than expectant and humble, so this poem is a wonderful reminder that God and His salvation are our highest need and hope. Psalm 70 also gives us permission and verbiage for expressing our suffering and our desire for a reversal in the universe. (Come, Lord Jesus!) That reversal is certain, but it is not evident, and to cry out for it is worship. It’s also something practical to do while we wait.

 


Applications:

 

  1. Rewrite Psalm 70 (it’s short) filling in details of your own situation. If there is no evil person for verses 2 and 3, let Satan play this role as he surely does.
  1. Could an exclamation of “Hurry!” be an act of worship? What would make it so? Think about the characteristics of Psalm 70 as you answer.

Related Material:

An blog about the oxymorons in the Psalms by JS Park

Asking God to Hurry by Steve Fuller

Free download about anxiety

Ordinary Days

I cry to the Lord when I am hurting or exhausted. Even in my crises of doubt, He is the first place I turn for reassurance. I also remember Him in celebrations. I’m not grateful enough, to be sure, but I say, “Thank you, God.” Sometimes even out loud. It’s the ordinary days when I forget Him. It’s the hurried chores I can do in my sleep, the jokes I share with a friend, the errands, the mindless hours of television – that’s where He is most absent from my thoughts.ppg

I love The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. More than any other tool, his story has shown me how to maintain some consciousness of God in the ordinary moments. I have found God at my ironing board, in a crowded room of party-goers, and with me in the shower, as a result. A few years ago, after reading the book again, I determined to tell God that I loved Him once an hour every day. It’s harder than you might imagine. Humbling. I think I will try it again today – on this ordinary day.

What About Prayer?

Dear Christian Counselor:

In the 12-step program, they refer to “conscious contact with God,” and I feel most of my prayer falls into this category. It’s more a constant conversation or knowing between us vs. a dedicated time of focused prayer. Is this okay? Does God change his mind based on our prayers?

–springs


Dear Springs:

I’m glad you are asking questions about prayer because that means you are not content to do life in your own strength.  There are probably as many approaches to prayer as there are praying people.  Jesus spoke spontaneously, in the intimate, immediate way you are describing.  But He also made a conscious effort to spend time alone with God.  As a parent, I appreciate it when my children touch base with me in the middle of their busy lives via text or Facebook.  But I also crave their individual focused presence.  That’s an area you could explore with God.  A recent book called A Praying Life by Paul Miller might help get you started.

There are several statements in Scripture concerning the constancy of God’s character, that He is not capricious or changeable.  But there are other illustrations of the value of repentance and prayer which seem to indicate that God is swayed by His people’s pleas (one quick example: Amos 7:2-3).  When the disciples questioned Jesus about prayer, He gave them a pattern to follow which included asking God to provide for their needs, accept their remorse and keep them from evil.  I don’t think this means God is surprised or changed by our prayers.  Rather, I think He has given us the wonderful privilege of being employed in His work as effective instruments in His hands.  This is certainly true when we show mercy or do justice in His name.  Why would it not also be true when we pray in His name?

—Louise

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