WAIT FOR THE LORD
T. PIERCE BROWN
The day before brother B. C. Goodpasture died, I was in his office and asked him how he felt. He said, “They that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” He was quoting from Isaiah 40:31 and applying it to himself. The fact that he died the next day did not change the truthfulness of the statement, but perhaps did make it more memorable to me, for I valued my friendship with brother Goodpasture and his insights into God’s word.
There is enough in that passage for several articles or sermons, but today I want primarily to emphasize the importance of waiting for the Lord. A growing tendency among those who claim membership in the Lord’s church is to try to take a shortcut or find an easier way than that which God ordained. If you will notice the newscasts about those hikers who get lost in the mountains, it will almost invariably be some novice hiker who was looking for a shortcut instead of sticking to the trail. We must try to live in such a way that we do not run ahead, lag behind, or try to take a shortcut, but wait for the Lord.
In many areas of life we are prone to look for shortcuts, for they seem to save us time, money, or effort. Probably there are legitimate areas in business and life in which we should do this. I confess that I have a tendency to drive three blocks out of the way to keep from waiting at a red light. If I were accustomed to going to movies, I think I would probably quit if I had to stand in line to get in. This aversion may have been heightened in the Air Force when I remember standing in line for haircuts, chow, busses, medical exams, and almost everything else we did. We even lined up on the runway to wait for taking off on a bombing mission.
Even when I recognize my need for patience, and pray for more of it, I feel like saying, “Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now.” So, when I write about waiting for the Lord, I am doing what I often do–writing for my own good, in an awareness of my own limitations, as well as for others who may need the same kind of admonition.
A few days ago I started another article about Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” which I thought had the same idea about which I am now writing. To my surprise and joy, I discovered that the words David used, “be still” have a different meaning than “wait for the Lord” although they are treated as equivalent by most commentators. In David’s statement, “to be still” is to stop depending on your own strength, ability, wisdom or power and to depend on God as you empty yourself. It is almost equivalent to what Jesus meant when he said, “If a man comes after me he must deny himself.”
To wait for the Lord is very closely related to that, but in the Hebrew and Greek the word used here suggests such things as expecting, hoping or looking for, enduring. The context determines the exact idea, but as we understand the term it includes the idea of enduring whatever circumstance you may have, waiting for the Lord for an answer to your problem. It may include looking for God’s answer to any problem or question, such as “What must I do to be saved?” or “How shall I worship?” If one wonders if he should worship using mechanical instruments of music, he should wait for the Lord for His answer. If he wonders whether to be baptized, or have water sprinkled or poured on him, he should wait for the Lord.
To wait for God is to not be in such a hurry to have your own way about anything that you cannot wait for God’s providential guidance to help you find the way He wants you to go. It includes patience and perseverance in any difficult situation, without fretfulness and anxiety, waiting for and expecting God to work things together for good.
Those who make up their own rules for salvation, everyday living, worship, service or anything else in life are either running ahead of God, or following afar off, if they are following at all. They are not waiting for the Lord. Resting in quietness, waiting, depending on God for His solution to all questions are not only ideas contrary to most of society, but are increasingly foreign to the thinking of some who are connected with the Lord’s church. There are those who see some lack of spirituality in what we call “worship services” which are often very little worship and no service at all. Instead of waiting for God and finding His solution, they think that “spicing” up the songs with a rock and roll beat will solve the problem. A preacher who discovers he is boring his audience with insipid preaching may decide he needs to tell a few more good jokes, or enliven it with more dramatic actions. He needs to wait for God and find the things that God’s messengers did to produce the desired results.
We have not even begun to discuss how this will help us to renew our strength, or mount up with wings as eagles. However, we do not need to know exactly how all this will take place, if we only practice waiting for the Lord, proper results will follow.