The Breath of the Soul
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. (Psalm 130:5)
Knowing God’s goodness, what a blessed life the life of waiting becomes- the continual worship of faith, adoring, and trusting His goodness. As the soul learns its secret, every act or exercise of waiting becomes just a quiet entering into the goodness of God, to let it do its blessed work and to satisfy our every need. And, every experience of God’s goodness gives new attractiveness to the work of waiting. Instead of on,y taking refuge in time of need, there comes a great longing to wait continually and all day. And, however duties and engagements occupy the time and the mind, the soul gets more familiar with the secret art of always waiting. Waiting becomes the habit and disposition, the very second nature and breath of the soul.
Dear Christian, begin to see that waiting is not one among a number of Christian virtues, to be thought of from time to time. It expresses that disposition that lies at the very root of the Christian life. It gives a higher value and a new power to our prayers and worship, to our faith and surrender, because it links us in unalterable dependence to God Himself. And it gives us the unbroken enjoyment of the goodness of God.
Many of us are too occupied with our work. As with Martha, the very service we want to render the Master separates us from Him. It is neither pleasing to Him nor profitable to ourselves. The more work, the more need of waiting upon God. The doing of God’s will would then be, instead of exhausting, our meat and drink, our nourishment and refreshment and strength. “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him” (Lamentations 3:25). How good is known only by those who prove it in waiting on Him. How good none can fully tell but those who have proved Him to the utmost.
If there’s any lesson we are learning through the pandemic it is that of trusting God. Many of our routine activities of the church have ceased, much of our personal fellowship has diminished, and even the way we gather to worship has changed. Yet we are finding that for many, their faith has been growing. I think that the Lord who loves us so has been giving us some “Mary time” of sitting at His feet and resting in His presence. Most of us have been quite comfortable operating with the “Martha time” of being busy serving and working. Not that serving or working is something bad but Jesus tells us that Mary chose the best thing. I believe that God would rather have us sitting at His feet and soaking up all of His presence than all the results of our labor.
Though the pandemic has revealed to us that the church remains as effective as before and perhaps in some ways more effective as we seek creative ways to worship, fellowship, connect, and evangelize. It has been amazing to me as I’ve watched our flexibility and creativity carry us throughout this year. I realize that maybe we longed for the old and familiar but we have chosen to work as we could given the circumstances.
I’ve studied revivals and awakenings over the years seeking the secret that unlocks another great move of God. Certainly I think we all would agree that our world is in desperate straits and our problems are so huge that only an intervention by the Sovereign Lord can bring the much needed change. I believe that the purpose of the church is to be instrumental in bringing this about. It’s not that we don’t see any of the work of God, but we need a magnitudes for the overwhelming, outpouring of the Spirit of God upon us and around us. What I’ve discovered in my search is some common variables. First, revivals come usually in times of great distress. Second, revivals are preceded by fervent prayer of a people who see the things around them becoming more desperate and that moves them to intercession for themselves and others. Third, there is a renewed sense of holiness for in the seeking of God, we see the sinfulness of self. Fourth, there is an increased urgency to share the gospel with those who are bound by sin. So in desperate times, people pray with intent and intensity. People seek to draw near to God and to draw with them the hopeless and helpless. And in all this God is glorified.
The other thing that has become obvious is that revivals usually have a very short life. Of all the things that I discovered this caught my attention. I wondered why it was so. I found that the people involved in the revival became so busy with the work of revival that they neglected the seeking and waiting on God. And in doing so their inflow of the Spirit of God began to diminish and their outflow of work increased until at last they were back to going through the motions again. It was as though they had disconnected the hose and were trying to water the flowers in the desert a little cup at a time. When we put the work of God above the seeking of God, we find ourselves getting more and more busy with less and less results of spiritual things.
The pandemic has given us time to evaluate our relationship with God. It has offered us opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and to be fed by Him. It has offered us time to refresh and renew our spirits. My prayer is that it has developed a deeper desire for the presence of God, a more passionate seeking of Him to know Him more, and a more dependence on God than on our own abilities and activities. I pray that we will not settle for business as usual but that we insist that our gatherings include more spiritual elements than activities. I pray that we will focus on the spiritual work of the church, reaching the lost and touching the community with the gospel. I pray that we will insure that the “pipeline” of spiritual life is connected to heaven’s river of life and that daily we draw from it new and greater spiritual blessings. I pray that our connection of this pipeline will provide a flow of life to our community until there is a flood tide of the presence of God. May we see that the most important work we do is the work of seeking and waiting on God till He comes upon us “as a rushing mighty wind” and that “the cloven tongues of fire” sit upon each of us.
“1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place, and suddenly a sound came from heaven like a rushing violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being distributed [among them], and they rested on each one of them [as each person received the Holy Spirit].
Make it so Lord!
Dr. John Thompson