I have often recounted the philosophical warning, “Be careful what you ask for because you might get it.”
That admonition came to my mind again as I was working my way through the 35+ football games over the holidays. These 6000 young men representing 70+ schools had done well enough to have some semblance of a national stage on which to perform. The thousands of hours they had spent training, the sacrifices they had made would now help them fulfill a life long dream. But wait, in reality only about one third to one half of them would actually get to play in the game. That means that at least half would be standing on the side lines waiting for some kind of opportunity to actually get in the game. An injury, a blow out game, some little break to give them their chance to play in the big game. They had worked hard, put in the hours, learned the plays, practiced, but for whatever reason someone else was chosen ahead of them.
Now they find themselves just waiting…but they don’t mind because it is waiting with a purpose, in great anticipation, and while they may not actually play on that field that day they have been instrumental in preparing those that do. They are part of a team working together for a common goal (Rudy Clip).
Compare that to another kind of waiting: DMV, grocery store, traffic jam on the freeway, etc., etc. There is no team here, none of the other people waiting want to help you, in fact they would just as soon that you were not there, you are in their way, you feel lonely, irritated, becoming frustrated. Evil thoughts are filling your mind. How could you even possibly think about God in this atmosphere?
Waiting is something we human beings don’t seem to do well. But as I thought about Pastor Chad’s sermon on Psalm 130, I realized there are two kinds of waiting. There is aimless, time wasting, fruitless waiting like at the DMV, grocery stores, etc., and then there is the hopeful waiting with expectations like a football reserve and the life of a Christian.
Pastor Chad reminded those at church that our goal as a Christian is to live a life devoted to Jesus and that experiencing God is the main way for us to grow spiritually. Being more direct, we are to seek to encounter God. While God’s lessons are sometimes tough, the Psalmist reminds us God is attentive and listening to us. He knows that Satan is after us, attacking us. But God helps us to have the training and endurance to withstand those attacks. We need to remember His teachings and His faithfulness and not be distracted by our feelings. Just like the football player who has been running all game long to advance the ball or to chase down an opponent. Or the lineman who has been protecting his quarterback, standing in the way of the opposing linemen slamming into him, pushing, shoving, savagely hitting, wrestling to gain an advantage. Just when he thinks he can’t go any more, a play is called that counts on him. He has to get rid of thoughts of being tired, of aching muscles, of cuts, of bruises. He needs to do what he has been trained to do.
That is what God wants from us. Our waiting is NOT to be passive. It is to be action oriented. The times we start to feel tired or discouraged should help us rely on God’s love and recognize our need for Him. We can expect Him to act and know that He has the power to help us. So, do as Pastor Chad suggested. Talk to God. Tell Him you need His power. Ask Him to work in your life because you want to be closer to Him.