Our family has a house on Lake Thurmond in South Carolina. When we are there our youngest two children hope to watch a movie every night. One rather silently hopes for something more than a kid’s movie. The other more persistently pushes for it to start usually hearing from her mom, “the movie will be turned on when it gets dark outside.” I don’t think this youngest child’s mind lets her wait patiently. It runs and runs trying to predict and control all of her moments.
One of these nights we watched the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. It is a moving story of a dog with undying patience as it waited for its master to get off of the evening train. A lot of tears were shed by the ladies during this one. Psalm 40 tells us of David’s undying patience for the Lord.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3–ESV)
In Psalm 40 David tells us that he waited patiently for the Lord. David waited patiently because he believed that God would come. In this chapter we do not see why David was waiting, but just that he was. The dog in that movie believed his owner would come and David believed that God would come.
Fruits of undying patience: helping, leading, humming, drawing
The Psalm goes on to say that God turned to David and heard David’s cry for help. God did come.
Not just hearing, but helping also
The same weekend we watched the movie of Hachi I took my paddle board Father’s day present and paddled out on the lake. In one of the coves I saw a thing above the water line where it had floated that I thought I might want. So I paddled over to shore and stepped off into the mud. Well, some mud sucks just like David said and down I went for a bit. It was only ankle deep but I was happy to find a place where my foot stopped. Taking a step toward shore I found a sturdy place where I did not sink down.
David spoke of his situation as being a muddy pit. He had no firm ground in the marsh of his circumstances. It was in that bog that David had been calling to God and waiting with undying patience for God to come. Well, God not only heard David, but came and was effective in helping David. God took David out of the engulfing mud of that pit of destruction and put him in a place that was sturdy. David did not go from the frying pan to the fire, but from quicksand to a firm foundation.
God is not just about being there with sympathy for us. God is there as a source of strength for us. What good is it to call for help if the only one who can hear you is in the same fix? Two men in quicksand can do little for one another, but put one on shore with a rope and a rock and a sturdy tree and there is hope. God was there for David with these things. God is there for us as well.
Undying patience plus a good God who hears results in firm footing.
Not just helping, but leading also
While walking from my paddle board to the shoreline I was amazed at a couple of things about the mud. It all looked the same, but the shallow mud and the deep mud looked about the same. The shallow mud and the deep mud were right next to each other. It was not something I found I could look at and say, “shallow here, deep there.”
David compared his affairs to a miry bog, a marsh if you will. He has been put on a firm place, but he is still very near the predicament where he had been floundering and sinking. David said that God made David’s steps secure. God made David’s footsteps firm. In another Psalm David said that God’s word was a lamp for his feet showing him the path. Here is that same theme. Once upon the God given foundation David was able to walk with confidence across the places of life without fear of falling again into the bog.
Not just leading, but humming with a new outlook
Having started this post with a movie think now of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Once when Snow White was in the kitchen with a bunch of squirrels she began to sing a song. That song was Whistle While You Work1. Songs make situations seem different or more tolerable. They are expressions of the heart.
Well, look at how David tells of his path through the dark places. Having been given secure steps David also found himself singing a new song. That was a thing that David credited to God. The path is now before him, his steps are secure and he has happiness for the going. God does not give bad things. He gives good things, great things. He could have just given some lights along the path so the feet would not get stuck. That would have been a rescue and deliverance, but God went so much further. He changed David’s innards. David found himself singing along the way. God helps David to sing in the swamps. Dare I say that David’s life went from sucking to singing?
Not just for David, but drawing others also
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians right at the beginning 2 we see the lesson that our blessings are not just for us. The helps God gives to one person are intended to be shared with others who find themselves in the same quagmire.
David said the same thing. He having been given a firm foundation, secure steps, and a song to sing will be an example to others. Others, he says, will see and others would put their faith in God. This is one of the main ways that God draws men to himself. Great sacrifice, great delivery, great peace is like a whistle that turns our heads and makes us come. Even Jesus said that when lifted up (on the cross) he would draw all men to himself. This is a widespread theme; it is the theme of being an example while in and exiting the slough of despond (to use a Pilgrim’s Progress analogy).
What about us?
Remember the story of Hachi from the beginning of this post? Will we have undying patience and be like Hachi while we wait for God? God will not be late. God will not be ineffective. God will come even though to us it may seem a long time in coming. God is not slow as some define slowness. Remember that God almost always ties points of faith to our circumstances. Faith was integral in so many of the miracles of Jesus. Waiting requires faith, but God is trustworthy and he will come. It may not be in the timing you imagine best, but God’s timing is neither imaginary nor ineffective. He plans it. He does it. We, in faith, must with undying patience wait for it.
Are you waiting for God?
After we have been given a firm footing comes the story is not over. Life still needs to be lived. God’s path is the sure path. All others are like the mud and will drag you down. We must fix our eyes on the ways and means of God. We must let his word be a light to our path. We must not wander off into the marsh but by obedience walk securely in it.
Are you being obedient to God in your steps?
There is a caveat to this
God does not come to enable our own ways. Some people may say that they have cried out to God, but that God never came. This is either a shortcoming in their own patience or a shortcoming in their goals. God will not help you to do things that you in your fallen nature desire. When you ask you do not receive, James says, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. God will always be true to himself. His ways, though they may be hard to understand, are ways of hope and health. They are secure steps for our souls. If we seek our own pleasures or our own aspirations it is unlikely that we will get what we pray for. Those are wrong motives and wrong motives are not God enabled. Doing things our way is an attempt at subverting God’s authority. God cannot be manipulated, but many will try. So we must not fret that God has not come if we are trying to get God to put his stamp of approval on things he cannot endorse. So seek God and wait for him. He is there and he is at work. It may take a long time to see what he is painting, but his painting for us has our best interest at its center. He only paints good things but one side of the canvas may have a bleak picture on it.