The lights are red in every lane. No one is moving. There is no choice but to wait. We’d prefer to keep hitting green lights, to keep moving forward and get where we want to go.
But it’s not all about us. There are other people, in other lanes, getting their green lights while we sit at a red light. There is a practical plan with traffic lights; we understand the pattern that promises our lane will get a turn to go.
Usually in life, it is much harder to understand what is happening and why we are waiting! We’re most aware of waiting when it is connected to our deep desires or fears, the kinds of things we cry out to God about. Sometimes it is hard to even keep perspective, because we can’t see the other people who are involved, and we can’t imagine the future.
Psalm 37 is my “active waiting” Psalm. What really catches my attention in this psalm is all the verbs!
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
David clearly speaks out of a hard time of waiting. I can identify with the phrases, “fret not,” “wait for the Lord and keep his way,” and “wait patiently for him” (verses 1, 7, 34).
We often are paralyzed by waiting or use it as an excuse for doing nothing. Or we easily slip into inaction and apathy, as we feel something outside of us has to happen before anything changes. But this waiting time can be very productive and meaningful in our lives.
Here’s a few everyday lessons:
- Dwell where we are and live fully today! Active waiting focuses on living and loving in the place we are today, rather than missing out on today because of the someday we’re waiting for. Take a look at these posts for more ideas on positive and hope-giving choices you can make and how to live well today.
- How we wait determines what comes next. We make choices about who we are and how we live in this waiting time. What kind of heart, attitude, actions, and relationship with God are we forming during this waiting time? Who we are and how we live makes a difference in the options we have, opportunities we seek out, and decisions we make.
- Remember we’re not the only ones in the story; this can give us patience and perspective. Like at the stop light, there are people in other cars whose lives are involved. God sees the big picture, and is working in everyone’s lives. We can trust our heavenly Father, who knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8).
- Make choices and take action to pursue what you’re waiting for. Some things are out of our control, but others are not. God has given us ability to make choices and take action. Maybe you can prepare with training, or you can put yourself in an environment that opens up new possibilities. We need to do what God has enabled us to do, rather than just wait for it to come to us.
What is God doing in you while you wait? We may not receive what we desired when we began waiting. But we can be certain in times of waiting that we are invited to grow in our desire and love for God. The lack of other things to hold onto can draw us to cling to God and delight in Him, and He promises to give us Himself (verse 4).
While we wait, it also may be that He changes the desires of our hearts to line up with what He desires for us. Waiting is an opportunity to surrender to God, and affirm that we delight in Him the most!
What are you waiting for? How can you live out verbs from Psalm 37 while you wait? What might it mean to “dwell” where you are?
Read Psalm 37 and consider who God asks you to be and how God asks you to live while you wait. Pray and talk with God about what He is doing in your life where you are right now.