I hate waiting. Especially in lines, at the grocery store, the bank or post office. The doctor’s office is even worse. Traffic jams make me bonkers. The light turns from yellow to red just as I approach, and I’m already running late. Trying to make a left turn facing an endless stream of cars, don’t get me started.
Why hasn’t God informed everyone that I own the road?
I have begun a new habit. Each morning I read two Psalms. The Psalms aren’t everyone’s favorite because they’re poetry, which means they are written with imagery and metaphor flavored by hyperbole and melodrama. I love them precisely because of those qualities. First I read a Psalm outloud to get the general idea of what’s happening. Next I read the commentary silently which explains some of the historical and cultural background of the ancient Hebrews, who are almost always at the center stage in the drama. After that I read the Psalm outloud again, I highlight whatever words jump out and jot down whatever thoughts come to mind.
Three common threads run through at least the first 41 Psalms (that I have read so far). Waiting, trust and hope. I’ll focus on this annoying notion of waiting first. I have pondered and meditated and written about waiting before, but am still trying to pass this bewildering test. My eye stops at every verse with the verb “wait.” Something tugs at my soul. Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD. Be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 13 is intense with the phrase repeated three times, “How long, O LORD.” Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 4:1 “Answer me when I call you, O my righteous God, How long . . . how long.” I’m glad David, the author of most of the early psalms, understands.
Waiting suggests giving up control when it’s so tempting to do something myself about frustrating matters. Waiting feels passive, as if I’m not doing everything I can within my power to change circumstances. Waiting requires slowing down and quieting my mind.
Intellectually I understand that there is purpose and reason for waiting on the LORD. But as I read the scriptures, slowly and methodically, it’s an emotional experience. I am learning to listen. Wisdom and truth pour out of every sentence and it’s often overwhelming. “Quit pushing your agenda on me. I am your only agenda for the moment,” the Holy Spirit whispers. The more my heart takes in, the more obvious my own sin becomes.
Taking the time to soak myself in the Psalms has not been fun or easy, but I’m compelled to do this for reasons I’m unable to explain. Stay tuned for more on the Psalms.