I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:13-14, NIV84)
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, it should be readily obvious by now that I attribute much of the shaping of this phase of my life to my dismissal in 2008 as CEO of an organization I ran for 26 years. While I have moved onto other ventures, positions and jobs since then, the event itself and especially how it happened remains a significant marker in my life.
Another shaping catalyst is my commitment to defer more to God’s guidance for considering new opportunities. Essentially I have dedicated myself to “waiting on the Lord.”
In practice, waiting on the Lord involves at least daily intake (reading) of the Bible and applying the understanding I gain from that intake to assess opportunities and advisement I receive from all other sources. I tap certain advisers to test my understanding – people I know and who know me vs. an author, for example, (although I do consider other inputs). This process in no way assures that the decisions I make are truly of God but I know that if my heart is inclined to Him, I can’t go wrong even if I am wrong (Philippians 4: 6-7).
The hard part of “Waiting on the Lord” is when what unfolds looks nothing like what I had in mind.
After my dismissal in 2008, I spent a couple months praying, getting up to speed on the latest career-search strategies and thinking about my future and next steps. I developed a game plan and set out. Little of what has transpired has followed that plan and the parts that did haven’t panned out as expected.
When personal plans and goals go awry is when having a solid Biblical grounding really pays off. Outside the Bible, abandoning or significantly altering a course that is not meeting expectations is almost always advised. But the Biblical advisement differs significantly.
The Bible insists that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9) and that worldly wisdom is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:19).
People profiled in the Bible almost always had their expectations thwarted or significantly altered – or they were asked by God to do unreasonable, illogical, even crazy things, sometimes over a long period of time (Abraham, Jacob, Noah, Joshua, Jonah). Often, they were criticized and even rejected by everyone around them. (Jeremiah, Elijah, Joseph and, of course, Jesus!).
Let me offer that action is our default mode – just do something already! Waiting is not natural and waiting on the Lord is even less so. But exposure to God changes you to be more amenable to this essential discipline.
Probably no Biblical character is a better example of this “disposition evolvement” than Moses. When first called by God (via the “burning bush”) to lead a campaign to rescue Israel from Egypt and lead them to their own “Promised Land,” Moses vehemently protested the assignment before reluctantly agreeing (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10 & 13). Let’s call him Moses1.
Jump ahead to the Moses we see in Exodus 33:12-23 (Moses2). Here he pleads with God to know God for fully and “makes” the Lord promise to maintain a level of nearness to and presence with the Israelites that will readily set them apart from all other people on earth (v16).
Moses1 wanted nothing to do with the plan God had for him while Moses2 pleads with God to honor the very plan God proposed to him in the first place!
I submit that what changed between Moses1 and Moses2 was Moses’ exposure to God. Among all people, Moses was alone in enjoying a face to face encounter with God.
When we spend time with God, we are changed. We begin to have God’s mind and want what he wants. Eventually, waiting on the Lord becomes an end in itself and the reasons why we embarked on waiting in the first place sort of dissipate. (See Job 42: 5-6)
I confess to a constant struggle with waiting on God and giving over to him complete control of me. What in my life can I truly attribute to being “of God,” due to waiting on him, vs. “of Glenn,” due to plowing ahead on my own?
I love the picture I found for this post – of a man sitting alone pondering a radiant sky overhead. I often encounter the Lord during moments like these and gain some powerful insights from him that he seems to have reserved for when I was attentive to him.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5,ESV)
A self-test I use is whether I readily give all the credit to God vs. reserving even just a little for myself. I challenge myself with a criterion that holds that any iota of me has no room at all for God. (God is crystal clear that lukewarm is unacceptable for his followers – Revelations 3:16.).
Some things in my life pass the test but not as many as I would prefer if I am honest with myself. What about you? Do you wait for the Lord? If so, how? Let’s compare notes!
Waiting on the Lord, photo source: http://eyobberhane56.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/waiting-on-god-god-is-a-rewarder-of-those-who-wait-for-him/waiting-on-the-lord-2/#comment-944
Wait for the Lord (NIV84), Bible Gateway: http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=wait%20for%20the%20lord&version1=NIV1984&searchtype=phrase&resultspp=50
Wait on the Lord (ESV), Bible Topics: http://www.openbible.info/topics/wait_on_the_lord
Wait for the Lord (ESV): http://www.openbible.info/topics/wait_for_the_lord