6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Waiting implies a relationship with a person.
If we are dealing with the internet – with robots and artificial intelligence – we – if things are working right – don’t have to wait. We ask Siri how many years Babe Ruth played for the Boston Red Sox and the answer is instantaneous – six.
But dealing with a human being is not like that. And dealing with God is even less like that. It’s true that God loves us, but He knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows what we need and even what we desire better than we know ourselves. We lie to ourselves, deceive ourselves, for many reasons: to cover up for wrongs and failures we don’t want to face up to; to keep up appearances, even to ourselves. Our self-deceptions are epic in both width and breadth. It takes work to undo them. It takes effort to see these deceptions or what they are – to remember why we concocted them in the first place and to at least get to the point where we might honestly assess what the truth might actually have been.
Donald Miller, who makes his living giving counsel to writers, says that everyone has a story and it is not the story that they are telling. When we talk with another – even with our closest confidant and even in the strictest confidence and even about the matters that our deepest in our soul – we don’t tell the whole truth. God wants the whole truth. Not because He wants to embarrass or punish us or to prove to us that, in spite of our protests, life was fair; He wants the truth – wants us to get to the bottom of things and tell ourselves the truth about ourselves – because this is the only way to get the ship righted. He doesn’t want to let us go on wandering down this dead-end road we’ve created for ourselves.
Jane Austen gives us a dramatic example of this process of “coming clean” in her great novel, Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett receives a letter from Mr. Darcy that contains enough information to convince her that the “reality” or “truth” that she has constructed for herself – that she made her decisions, big decisions, based on – was completely, utterly false. Here is Elizabeth’s confession:
How despicably I have acted!” she cried; “I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable mistrust! How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself.”
If that is our natural tendency and bent – and it is – then our relationship with God won’t be one of instant gratification, but, rather, one of long and deep searching and confession. Thus, “waiting on the Lord” as we hear about it in the Bible and as we think about it may really be more God waiting on us! That is, waiting on us to “come clean” so that the conversation will be meaningful and not just some feel-good rambling about the person we pretend to be and the wants and needs that we have half-convinced ourselves that we have.
I am not for a minute saying that God will have no help for us until we’ve gotten it all together. Nope. I am right there with the Reformers and Protestant tradition in saying and believing that God initiates. That is, He comes to us – saves us, accepts us – “just as we are,” self-deceptions and all. What I am trying to say is that the relationship that follows is one that depends on honesty and, given the fact that this is such a task for us – letting go of our precious smoke screens and delusions – there is some waiting involved; maybe a lot.