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On the corner “Active waiting”

By Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief

Some among us in this world stumble around in the “sin feeling,” justified in their self-centered, unloving choices because they believe God ignores them. They sing a lonely song: If he exists at all, he’s not listening; he doesn’t care; he’s somewhere else; he’s too busy; he’s not watching. He’s not even there.

These people are so captivated by their own power that they genuinely believe this situation is perfect. A distant, uncaring God allows them, they believe, total autonomy, complete moral irresponsibility, and an entire commitment to an impulsive self. Others don’t count. They only burden the scene and get in the way.

These tragic figures give up feeling guilty about their lack of otherness. Individualism runs rampant surrounded by its bright lights, its crushing cacophony, its unfettered freedom that has now become a license to behave in any way they choose.

No desire triggers any wish to be part of a community. The people huddled around them seem always to assemble casually—there without intention and by chance. Those who wander together with these values, are off-the-cuff. They move by whim alone. They form only a collection of individuals. No norms monitor their movements. No unity steers their painful path.

Leaderless, a book called Pleasure guides their tour.

Isaiah had a similar problem with his flock.

 

A voice says, “Shout!”

             I said, “What shall I shout?”

“These people are nothing but grass,

             their love fragile as wildflowers,

The grass withers, the wildflowers fade,

             if God so much as puffs on them.

             Aren’t these people just so much grass?

True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade

             but God’s Word stands forever.”

 Climb a high mountain, Zion.

             You’re the preacher of good news.

Raise your voice. Make it good and loud.            

             You’re the preacher of good news.

             Speak loud and clear. Don’t be timid!

 Tell the cities of Judah,

             “Look! Your God!”

Look at him! God, the Master, comes in power,

             ready to go into action.

Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,

             gathering the lambs in his arms,

Hugging them as he carries them,

             leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.

 Have you not been paying attention?

             Have you not been listening?

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,

             or whine, Israel, saying,

“God has lost track of me.

             He doesn’t care what happens  to me”?

 “Don’t you know anything? Haven’t  you been listening?

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.

             He’s Creator of all you can see  or imagine.

He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t

            pause for breath,

             And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired,

             gives fresh strength to dropouts.

For even young people tire and drop out,

             young folks in their prime stumble and fall.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.

             They spread their wings and soar like eagles,

They run and don’t get tired,

             they walk and don’t lag behind

(Is. 40: 6-11, 21, 27-31  MSG).

 

At the corps a few Sundays ago, we sang a challenging praise chorus, “Everlasting God.” It’s based on the same passage in Isaiah. I think it should have been titled “Wait,” but, unfortunately, that title had already been used for a different praise chorus. In strict, rapid rhythm it sings:

 

 Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

 We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord

 

These lines repeat a second time and begin each verse. The emphasis seems to focus on “waiting on the Lord” in the manner used by translators of Isaiah 40. The phrase is used many times in Scripture.

I’m intrigued with the word “wait” in the song. Was it talking about “serving” the Lord? After exploring a good concordance I determined that this was incorrect and that they were talking about the traditional meaning. Then I examined a good dictionary and found that the word “wait” had 15 separate meanings, starting with: “To stay or rest in expectation; remain in a state of repose or inaction, as until something expected happens.” It’s fairly clear in all the definitions that the person who waits is inactive.

Personally, I don’t intend to “remain in a state of repose or inaction” until Jesus comes. I don’t think he would expect that, either. Therefore, I will “wait upon the Lord’” as a reminder of God’s presence everywhere and his arrival some soon sweet day. In the meantime my waiting will be active.

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