praying the Psalms: Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord.
Alternately, "I waited, kicking and screaming, for the Lord."
But I think I am deciding that this can be prescriptive. When I am tempted to grow frustrated, or prideful or despairing..."No! I wait patiently for the Lord! That is what I do."
Because He inclines His ear to me, every time. He bends low to listen. I am humbled by this, because He is God - and because He is subjecting Himself to listen my complaining. (Let's be honest: sometimes we are not praying, we are just registering a complaint.)
But I can pray. He hears all my cries and demands, knows my broken heart. But His promise includes loving me too much to let me wallow in the pit of destruction, in the miry clay. He moves me up to the strong rock of what is True and puts a new song in my mouth.
And what do I do to get that sort of treatment?
Pray right? Behave well? Check off the list of Good Christian-y Responses?
I wait patiently. I cry out. And He comes and gives the gift of Himself - He comes and rescues me.
I don't have to generate the strength and spiritual stamina to get myself from the miry clay to the strong rock. I can't do it anyway.
So I wait -patiently- and I cry out to the Lord for strength, for help, for peace, for rest, for rest from the destruction that dwells in the pit. There is, I've noticed, no reference for how or when or under what circumstances He will transfer me to that rock. His rescue does not mean I'll feel better standing on the rock. His rescue and the new song He gives only guarantee that He is glorified - that others will see and know His worth. That others will praise His name when I wait patiently and let Him move me from clay to rock.
When I am obedient by waiting (which implies faith that He will respond) and by praying (calling out to Him in whatever way I can) - He is faithful to move me to strong places. This is an internal reality not often validated by external circumstances. I am offended by this, but I am subject to it. So I may choose to dwell in the Perfect Love of God. My obedience to and dependence on every Word of God is death to my independence....but what good is my independence doing me in the miry clay? What is it worth, if I'm dwelling in destruction and brokenness?
I lose myself to Christ through waiting patiently...through prayer and obedience...
My true, in-Christ self rejoices in this. I delight to do Your will, O my God! Your law is written on my heart and I draw from deep, deep wells to respond to Your lovingkindness. I am stunned by the reality that You don't withhold compassion from us. This is disorienting on every emotional level, because I often interpret an extension of compassion as "relief from my circumstances". But that transfer from the pit to the rock is not about saving me from my circumstances - it's about saving me from myself.
I'm so painfully, embarrassingly aware of my failings before You. There are moments where all I see are my sins, piling up and holding me hostage to condemnation. But You are pleased to deliver me from this! You deliver me from thinking much of myself, from preferring myself. You move me from lamenting to rejoicing, by a grace greater than I deserve.
I am afflicted. Needy. Longing to be released from this body of death and yet burning with gratitude that my life and my truest self is being renewed day by day. From the pit to the rock, You consider my failings and my brokenness, the melodies of pain and despair I hum...and You initiate in me the work of forgiveness, the work of Real Life, and You put a new song in my mouth.
My voice cracks singing it, but I will sing it until my lungs burst: YOU are my help and my deliverer!