“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore, I will hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
- Lamentations 3:24-26
"It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvatio There’s a statement woefully out of sync with the world today... Waiting and quietness are not virtues in American life, and therefore, few of us exhibit either quality.
Recently, as I was out and about, I made it to the last of my errands, that of picking up medications. While listening to a podcast on the destruction of Thebes in the fourth century (not because I care, mind you, but because I had heard just about as much touchy-feely, feminization of men as I could stand), I whipped into the outside lane of the drive-through thinking it was my lucky day that no one was in the line already. Above the little video box where I can see how old and wrinkled my chubby face now is, a sign was taped: “If you need service, please come inside, blah, blah, blah…” If I’d wanted to go inside, why would I be outside? So, after a nanosecond of consideration, I decided to go back the next morning. I don’t take a single medication that justifies walking into the grocery store during the after-work crush, a mistake I made not that long ago and don’t plan to repeat if I can possibly avoid it.
Contemporary life is full of noise and hurry. Think about it. How often is your home silent? Your car? Your yard? I’m not talking about family – the conversations of your spouse or your children. I’m talking about the steady stream of noise that comes from all our newly-necessary communications and favorite toys. Constant sound surrounds us from the time we wake up until the time we fall asleep, whether with televisions, phones, games, videos, podcasts, or some other source. We are so accustomed to the presence of sounds that many of us cannot fall asleep unless there is some form of noise in the background, a television on, music playing, and such.
Sounds are not the only external feed into daily life. A steady barrage of images relentlessly imprints our brains, instructing and directing us wherever we are. For example, have you noticed those flashing advertisements while reading online articles? If I really want to read an article and the ads don’t stop, I click the close button. Did you know that, if you close the ad enough times, a message pops up and asks what kind of ads you like? Why, none, thank you very much! As it turns out, “none” is only a choice in religious categories, not in advertising.
There is so much to distract and entertain us. Social media is now broken down into age groups, with different types for different ages. I am officially categorized with all the old people, which I find a bit insulting really. Still, I admit, I not only do not know how to use insta-chat, snap-gram, TikTube, or YouTok, I am not particularly interested in learning. (Could I sound any more like an old curmudgeon?) However, if we want to share the Gospel, then we need to go to the people on the social media of their age-bracket. Frankly, were it legal, I’d hire the 12-year-old or 13-year-old living on my block. Either one would be fine with me, and both almost certainly know more than I.
When I left the drive-through with the broken box, immediately I began thinking about rearranging my schedule for the following day. Even as the voice continued droning through the speakers in my truck, I no longer heard it. Other very important matters took precedent. Perhaps I should make a grocery list and get that done also, since I have to go back to get my prescriptions anyway… I don’t know what happened to Thebes.
Who is quiet long enough to hear the voice of the Lord calling us by name? Can we be still and let Him woo us, gathering us into His heart and healing our brokenness? Do we allow our soul to hope in God?
When we rush around and cannot be quiet, the voice of God becomes a droning sound in the background for so long that it becomes unintelligible. We lose the rich and unfailing hope that comes when our soul is satisfied by the Lord. Where in our daily schedule is time for waiting quietly? Is it a coincidence that the busier our world becomes and the less quiet and stillness we experience, the higher our levels of anxiety and the deeper our levels of depression?
The essence of Christian life is fellowship with our God, and that occurs in prayer, quietness, stillness, and worship. There is such peace to be had by resting in Jesus. Yes, there are many demands on our lives, shifting as we go through the years, but demands nonetheless. I am not sure how many are actually crucial and how many are contrived. What I do know, however, is that the most important activity in our lives is time spent with Jesus. Prayer merely begins by talking to God. True prayer matures into silent communion. To have any chance of participating in that reality, we must first learn to be quiet and wait. Our souls need the time and freedom to rise with the ferocious hunger of empty depths seeking and being satisfied by the Lord – as only He can. When we are able to enter into the presence of God, we discover nothing is too hard. Nothing is impossible or hopeless once we have sat in safety and peace with the King of kings, the Crucified One Who is victorious over every challenge and obstacle, even death.
If I were to plot the means by which Satan could destroy the faith and witness of Christians, I can think of nothing more effective than filling our lives with mindless noise and convincing us we do not have time to be quiet and wait for the Lord. How – how – do we expect our children to be quiet and wait for the Lord’s salvation? How can we teach them to hope in Him if we do not wait quietly for His salvation?
Growing up, we lived outside of town in a home surrounded by pastures and forests. We had one television station and an enormous console record player. We could sing the verses of hymns with Jimmy Dean, as well as every song in The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. Our imaginations adventured bravely with Peter in the 1957 Peter and the Wolf LP, giggled at the antics of Jiminy Cricket and Bongo the Bear, and road fearlessly with Pablito in The Littlest Outlaw. We built forts of pine straw, shot arrows and BBs at imaginary foes (and, occasionally, at one another), and climbed “way up high” in the trees. My siblings and I explored the woods and pastures, picked berries under the sleepy eyes of lazy cows, and ran terrified from a bull who looked our way and snorted. Summer days found us lying on the ground watching the clouds float by, catching grasshoppers, or fishing for crawdads in puddles left by rain. Every child should be so fortunate.
It is so much easier to recognize God if you’ve tilled a garden and planted seeds. His voice is so much clearer if you’ve sat in a clover patch searching for just one with four leaves. The birth of calves, the growth of vegetables, the buzz of bees, all make the handiwork of God in our own lives more visible.
The noise, the images, and the busyness of our lives work together to separate us from the salvation of the Lord, and the tragedy is that we don’t even realize it. We are unaware that our soul is calling for the Lord. It takes time to wait for a seed to become a pumpkin patch. It takes time to wait for the Lord’s salvation.
The tiny computers that fill our homes are much faster and more complex than the computer that sent men to the moon in 1969. For all the technological power we have, however, we are not better human beings. The capacity for worldwide communication does not teach us understanding, just as information does not miraculously become wisdom.
I am not anti-technology, but I am pro-living. Virtual reality is not a life. It is only entertainment, and much of it not good. No computer chip can simulate a fully lived life, marked with deep pits, large obstacles, daunting challenges, unrestrained laughter, and immeasurable joy. There is no program or app for the soul’s longing for God, nor the heart’s longing to love.
The salvation of the Lord is not a background voice for this life. It is the hope of every human being, the answer to questions we often do not know to ask, the joy that gives this life beauty in good times and courage in bad. Until we can be quiet and wait for the Lord, we cannot possibly teach our children to do so. We do not have to throw away every latest high-tech toy we own, though we likely would be alright if we did, but we certainly can turn them off for significant periods of time.
The gift of quiet opens the mind to what is not seen, and when we engage in the life of God, undefeatable hope slowly grows until it blossoms into joy – a joy the world will crave or hate, the joy of abiding in Christ.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. Today, begin the practice of waiting quietly. Let your soul seek the Lord, so that you may know with certainty how very good He is.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
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