Stuck in Stillness
- July 16, 2018
- Jared Odenbeck
Does your life sometimes feel still? By still, I mean repetitive in one sense. But in another, I mean the absence of movement. Perhaps you know that you are upon the crest of change, yet lack direction and find yourself bereft of opportunity altogether.
Our physical inactivity, in this case – our work in one fashion or another, may give rise to spiritual inactivity, or worse, apathy. We simply want the days to pass by without consequence so that we may arrive quickly into our awaited hopes. But that is such a waste. And, it signals that we desire the hope of worldly achievements or promotions more than our living hope.
Scripture lays out a clear pattern for these times. Abraham waited around 100 years for a son. The Israelites roamed aimlessly in the wilderness for 40 years. The disciples sat in locked rooms for an excruciating, endless three days. Wait for the Lord. That is the pattern. I want to briefly examine three Scriptures that identify the nature of this waiting and give rise to the action that we take in these days, for they will come. Of this we can be sure.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5). I mentioned in passing above that in our waiting, we typically hope more in the thing that we await than in our living hope. Equally so, we hope in his word. We rest in the great comforts of his promises. That is what keeps us from the snare of anxiety and the pit of worry. When we believe and hope in his word, even in himself, we wait well and we wait with stillness and expectancy.
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4). For me, this is the foundational text on what it means to wait for the LORD. I want you to notice two things. One, God serves us and works on behalf of those who, in humility, lay down their anxieties and worries and submit to his work and his purposes in waiting. Two, if God works for us, we certainly will not work for ourselves.
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). Upon a quick first read, we may mistake the meaning of “still” for inactivity. But, if we read the two phrases of this verse, which occur before and after the “and”, with equal intensity, we will discover that the commandment of stillness actually drives us to action. Stillness before the LORD is a posture that conveys a wholehearted trust – a belief that he will do as he promised in Isaiah 64. How does it look? “Wait patiently for him.” Then, worry, anxiety, and running from one thing to another all war against a patience, and therefore expose our unbelief and show us that we do not believe his word, nor his promises. Or, perhaps we believe in him, but do not believe he will do what he says. As if he will not graciously give us all good things (Romans 8:32)!
Truly, this moment is still. For me, and perhaps for you. Yes, often even to an uncomfortable point where you desire to move along yourself and give in to the temptation to run ahead. You may even discover that you try to push the clock forward with all your might and with everything and every resource in your power. But you cannot turn the clock that Sovereignty has set. Set your hope on him. Rest, trust, and believe. He works for those who wait for him.