Monday, June 11, 2007

Psalm 27

Our cell group did a study recently on Psalm 27.

The psalm begins on an exultative note, with David proclaiming -

"The Lord is my light and my salavation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?"

Somewhere in between, he shifts gears, and begins a call of distress for God to not forsake him. The psalm resolves, however, in the final verse, 14:

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

What exactly does it mean to "wait"? I left the study that night heavy-hearted, cos the truth is nobody likes to wait. While waiting, we each live with a sense of uncertainty - and to borrow from the movie Music and Lyrics - "with a shadow over our heads". E. sometimes likes to call it the "paralysis of analysis".

Psalm 27 expresses this reality about my own christian walk - on one hand, remembering on a daily basis His blessings in my life, and proclaiming that his mercies are new every morning. On the other, inexorably finding myself face to face with the unanswered questions, the hidden frustrations, wanting to act on it with my own bests interest versus holding out for God's answers.

In one sermon outline, three meanings are attributed to the word "wait" in the bible. When the word of God asks us to wait it usually means one of these three - to pray in the stillness of our spirit, to work in service to the Lord (and "wait upon the Lord" as it were), and to tarry in our steps.

I find the last most challenging. On our way to work this morning, E says he finds the call to "wait for the Lord" as providing scarce comfort.

Interestingly, over the same weekend, a doctor friend who has close ties with BFEC via the Karuna clinic, St Luke's hospital and now HealthServe, passed me a book written by Dr Tan Lai Yong entitled "Waiting for Growth". In it is a series of devotions in which Lai Yong shares his heartfelt stories and reflections, based on his experience in Yunnan, China, and on his ruminations of songs in the old testament, many of which are in the book of Psalms. The devotions revolve around this notion of waiting - for God's answers, and God waiting for us to respond to his love.

I picked it up last night after laying little Dylan down to sleep. It was 10.30pm.

(BFEC had published it in 2005 in support of St Luke's hospice in Bukit Batok. Funny how I don't recall BFEC every mentioning this to the congregation.)

Anyway, one line struck me, and I thought I'd share it here. Lai Yong writes about how we live in an age of instant gratification - we want it, and we want it now.

That's why it is always challenging to pray and ask for things pleasing to the Lord, rather than things pleasing to us, and to our very human longing for the security of the here and now.

But in waiting for God, we force ourselves to tarry, to pause in our instinct to react according to our desires, and see things from God's perspective instead. And that is when the word of God sheds light upon darkness, as sure as the sun rises from the east every morning. He cites C.S. Lewis who says that he believes in Christianity as he believes the sun has risen, not because he sees it but because by it he sees everything else. (I'm paraphrasing here.)

Similarly, my challenge to myself is to seek the word of God for light. I know for sure that I don't search to word deeply enough to work out the character I know God wants me to build. Maybe that is why my laments in my prayers sometimes feel so empty, knowing that on my part, God is also, waiting for me to grow up.

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