Today’s passages: Isaiah, chapters 65-66; Psalm 62; John, chapter 3
Scripture: Psalm 62:1-8 (NRSV) – For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall never be shaken. How long will you assail a person, will you batter your victim, all of you, as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence? Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence. They take pleasure in falsehood; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Observations: Twice in these verses the psalmist says, “For God alone my soul waits in silence.” How often do we do that? It is so hard for us to “wait in silence”; when something happens, we immediately begin to cry out – to each other, and to God. There is no question that God instructs us to cast our cares upon him – but once we’ve done that, we need to “wait in silence” to give him a chance to speak. Too many times, we go to God in prayer and tell him everything that’s on our hearts, and then immediately jump up and go do what we think is best. How can we know what path God will take if we don’t give him the opportunity to speak to us? How can we know what path God wants us to take if we don’t give him the opportunity to speak to us?
Everyone who is a follower of Jesus knows that God has plans for us, has a path that he has established for us. But that path is not always the way that we might think. I certainly never expected God to call me to preach, and once he did, I didn’t think he was calling me to be a pastor. But as I waited, and listened for his direction, he unquestionably led me to that calling, and then to this place. It wasn’t the path I would have chosen; it wasn’t the path that I thought “made sense.” If I had not waited in silence – for quite a while – and listened before acting, I could easily have gone the wrong direction. There is a balance between calling out to God and listening in silence; in my experience, too often we tip the balance far in the favor of calling out. We need to learn to listen.
Not every decision in our lives is as momentous as responding to God’s call to ministry – but every decision is an opportunity for God to be glorified in us. The more times we go off in the direction that we think is best – or the direction that “feels” best – the more likely we are to go the wrong direction. We cannot trust our hearts; “the heart is deceitful above all things; who can know it?” We must trust in the One who created our hearts, who has given us life and welcomed us into his family. In order to do that, we must “wait in silence for God alone.”
Applications: God is reminding me today of how easy it is for me to fall into the trap of making my own decisions, determining what I think is the best path – and how much of a problem that can be. The more I start to trust in myself, the more I weaken my ability to hear God. It requires time waiting in silence – each day, with his Word open before me, listening for the still, small voice of God. When I do that, God will never fail me, never lead me in the wrong direction. Earlier this week, we read in John 1 how John the Baptist said when he saw Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” When his disciples who were with him heard that, they followed Jesus. In today’s reading in John 3, some of the Baptist’s disciples were still following him– and they were heading in the wrong direction spiritually by criticizing Jesus and his disciples. John set them straight – because he was listening to God. That’s what I need to do!
Prayer: Father, you know me, because you created me. You know that my heart can lead me astray; help me to recognize the difference between what I want and what you desire. As I wait in silence, listening to you, bring my will into alignment with your will. Your Son taught us to pray that you would not lead us into temptation; I know that you never will. You have promised to be with me, and to supply all of my needs out of your glorious riches. Help me to trust in you today, and to walk in your way, that your name may be glorified. Amen.