It was so encouraging to hear Alex preach recently about the real danger of having so many gifts. As he pointed out, these good things, like money or health or success, or influence come with a very real risk. The Lord has been laying a similar concern on my heart as well these last few weeks, not just for our congregation, but especially for myself in light of the blessings I experience. I am so eager for us all to see whatever danger is before each of us. Here’s some practical help…
Is it a real danger?
I’m not in the New Testament reading class like some of you are, but as God would have it, my bible reading is lining up well with it anyways. A passage I read (well, listened to actually) this morning was the parable of the sower. I am most concerned for myself with what is warned against in Mark 4:19 / Matthew 13:22… “but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
- Revelation 3:17-19 contains another warning that we who live here would do well to heed… “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent”
Ow. So the danger of being blinded by blessings, being deceived into self-sufficiency is real, whether we feel it or not.
Over a hundred years ago, a South African missionary named Andrew Murray wrote a helpful little devotional called Waiting on God. Each chapter is only a couple pages, but is a great meditation on a verse in scripture that talks about waiting on God (there’s more than you think!). What if real power does not come through tapping on a smartphone, pressing ‘start’ on some device, or even implementing the latest talk show wisdom? What if scripture is true when it says, “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 64:4). Because the book is so old, it’s public domain (e.g. free), so you can download it for free here, and of course buy it on Amazon. The Kindle version is a whopping 99 cents.
A song that provided another perspective on the importance of looking to God for life more than my own efforts or even gifts is called “To Those Who Wait.” It’s by Bethany Dillon, the wife of one of the Shanes of Shane and Shane. I love the chorus. It says, “Lord, today You know what I need to do, But You can do more in my waiting than in my doing I could do. So I won’t run anymore. I’m waiting on You.” You can listen to it here, or read all the lyrics here.
So… how do we wait on God?
“Get ready… get set… now everyone become a monk (or nun) and move to the desert!” Obviously not. So what does waiting on God look like?
- A weak illustration is waiting on a bus: when we’re at the bus stop, we don’t do anything to get where we’re going. We just obediently, trustingly put ourselves in the path of blessing (even though the faithfulness of a bus is easily questioned).
- But waiting on God is even more than that… it can often be an active waiting. “how is that?” Well, when we’re waiting for a bus, there’s no interaction, no relationship involved, so we put the bus out of our mind, and pull out something to occupy our mind. But with God, there’s a relationship, and there may be very real pain we have to endure during the waiting and so distraction is not so easy …nor is it necessarily what God wants. We can see many examples of active waiting in the Psalms. For example, Psalm 62:5 “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” In that chapter you see the Psalmist go back & forth between expressing distress to God, and worshiping God for His faithfulness… a great example of waiting on God. In Murray’s book he helps flesh this out, that prayer is a great place of what active waiting looks like. The primary role of prayer is one reason why I love the it is one of our spiritual disciplines and also why I am excited that this month we are focusing especially on prayer, and prayer for our kids.
How about you?
Are you in a place where the blessings you experience are in danger of blinding you to your need for God?
- you’re really good at what you do
- you’re admired
- you can use money to insulate from problems
Or maybe you in a place where you feel your need to wait on God?…
- a child?
“Lord, thank You so much that You are a God who acts on behalf of those who wait on You. Please protect us from being deceived or blinded by the good things we have from You. Please teach us how to wait on You. Thanks for the promise that it will not be in vain. We love you. In Christ’s name, amen.”