Psalm 37:1-7a

Don’t get upset over evildoers;
    don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
because they will fade fast, like grass;
    they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
    live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
    and he will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord!
    Trust him! He will act
and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
    and wait for him.

Common English Bible
Photograph by Jimmy Chan at

It seems that recently when I page through the Bible, the same ugly four-letter word jumps out at me: WAIT. The great stories of the Old Testament have people of faith waiting until God tells them to proceed–but the foolish people rushed to act on their own initiative. Instructions to the faithful call on us to “wait on the Lord”, and it cannot be correctly translated any other way than to surrender our initiative and accept God’s Will in God’s time. At least I can take comfort that there must be many people like me if this message is repeated so often.

But I like my way better: I find a problem, I devise a solution, and I fix it. Done, over with, ancient history, and I can move on with my life. I love the challenge of researching a problem, even when that challenge threatens my livelihood or my well-being. I get great pleasure in applying my intellect and creativity to see what I can accomplish. I get tired of the same old problems, so I want to conquer and bury them, even if all that means is I trade old problems for new problems. Me, me, me.

King David must have known people like me. He called for my type to put a halt to the urgency we feel to deal with the problems around us. The first verse calls us to stop fretting about what we see that isn’t right, not because we are willing to accept what is wrong, but because we are willing to trust God to work all things for good. Our first responsibility is to keep trusting, and then keep trusting some more, for however long God chooses for us to wait.

If I compare this idea to my workplace and who has authority there, the command to wait makes sense. I can be a good manager that identifies issues and opportunities, but my priorities are set by my manager. She is the one that decides which issue or opportunity gets funding first, so the work gets done in her time, not my own. When I decide that I will wait on God for only a limited amount of time before I strike out on my own, I am only pretending to be a faithful servant of God. When I give up trying to manage God’s Will, and instead I follow God’s Will, I am being the faithful servant that God calls me to be.

To be obedient, I must wait. I have to wait while my frustration builds so that my trust in God can grow stronger than my frustrations. I have to wait until the anger in me is replaced by God’s Love, and I see those that oppose my efforts as my brothers and sisters in God’s family. I have to wait until I am willing to reach out in peace instead of striking out in rage. I have to wait until I no longer fixate on the imperfections around me, but choose to see instead the seeds of perfection God has liberally sprinkled all around us.

I have to wait until I am ready to release my grip on anything I still call “mine”–my money, my career, my family, my time, my life.

One day, when I am finally beginning to learn the grace of waiting, I will find that mature waiting brings immeasurable Joy. I will see how waiting allows God to work the miracles in me and through me that God has been unable to do when I kept impatiently interfering.


Scripture passages from the Common English Bible (CEB), Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible