In Psalm 62, the phrase “my soul waits in silence” is repeated twice–in verse 1 and in verse 5. Eugene Peterson writes about these words in this Psalm in Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms That Summon You from Self to Community. He says:
Another will is greater, wiser, and more intelligent than my own. So I wait. Waiting means that there is another whom I trust and from whom I receive. My will, important and essential as it is, finds a will that is more important, more essential. While waiting, I discover that there is more reality outside me than inside me, and I take up a position to respond to it. I begin to pray by attempting to manipulate the will of God; I end by putting myself in a position to be moved by his will… In prayer we are aware that God is in action and that when circumstances are ready, when others are in the right place and when my heart is prepared, he will call me into the action. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts. Waiting is our participation in the process that results in the “time fulfilled.”
When I think about why I want more waiting, one of my “intentions” for 2015, Peterson’s words above get to the root of what I long for. I want to trust God’s timing and I want to rest prayerfully in his goodness during the time in between the not knowing and the knowing. I definitely have room to grow in this area.
A dear friend texted me this morning asking how I am. Knowing her, and knowing that she really wanted an honest answer, I attempted to reply with the truth. Part of my response to her included, “Struggling with anxiety about a few different circumstances, but faith is winning, barely.” After thinking about that statement, I must confess I told her “faith is winning, barely” because it seems like some things might work out the way I prefer for them to work out. (My kids did great on theentrance exam for the Fancy School. I made it through the holidays without having to be admitted to the psych ward. And some other things I don’t think I can write about right now are moving in a positive direction.) I don’t think that qualifies as faith, though. That’s tying my faith to my idols coming through for me. It’s holding out hope for the picture I have created for my life instead of trusting God to provide the perfect picture he has for my life.
If I were to style my own picture right now, I would have a brain that isn’t struggling to fight off depression. My kids would be content and getting along well with each other, holding acceptance letters from the schools we want them to attend next year. My husband would be feeling great about his work and his sales results would be perfectly represented by and proportional to the amount of energy, time and heart he expends in providing solutions for clients. And an email with a confirmation number for a condo in Rosemary Beach for a week in June would be in my inbox in my iPhone in the back pocket of my size 8 jeans. I could go on and on about how I would want my friendships to look, how I would want my church to be, and what my hopes are for my neighborhood and for my city. I basically have a huge portrait of a golden calf hanging on a wall in my mind. (Thanks to Julie Sparkman and her Idol Addiction study, I’m able to see what some of my idols are. Even if it does take a few hours, days, months or years to become aware of them.)
None of the things in my picture are bad. It’s not wrong to desire good things for me and for those I love. But if I’m looking to them instead of looking to God, I’m in dangerous territory. If I’m grasping for them instead of prayerfully waiting for what God has for me, they have become worthless idols.
This is an appropriate time to insert a quote from Richard Rohr that our Associate Pastor included in our church’s Order of Worship several weeks ago. In Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assissi, Rohr writes: “To pray and actually mean ‘thy Kingdom come,’ we must also be able to say ‘my kingdoms go.’”
So, it looks like I need to repent of idolatry. I need to tear up my own picture, unclench my fists from my own kingdoms and wait with patience, hope, and a trusting faith for the pictures God has for me, my family, my friends, my church, my neighborhood and my city. I need to adopt a posture of prayer. And I need to believe God accompanies me as I settle into that posture.
Lord, help my unbelief.