Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Best Move

One of Satan’s most effective and longstanding cons is getting people moving when they really ought to stand still. He did it with Eve, didn’t he? That tree in the middle of the garden was good for food, and it was a delight to the eyes, and to be desired to make one wise.

Thing is, it was just as good for food the day before. It was just as delightful to the eyes three weeks before that. The wisdom it conferred would be the same yesterday, today or tomorrow. There was exactly zero urgency about having a bite of its fruit right then. None whatsoever. Nobody was going to starve, and that exceptionally desirable tree was not going anywhere.

So what would have happened if Eve had replied to the serpent, “Interesting idea. I’ll give it some thought, talk it over with Adam a bit, and we’ll get back to you one of these days”?

Sometimes a time out is an excellent idea.

Cultivating Spiritual Immobility

I’m trying to cultivate spiritual immobility these days. I don’t mean that I want to stop learning or growing or walking with the Lord; not at all. But I’m trying to get over this crazy idea that every choice I have to make, every question that pops into my mind, every difficulty I encounter, and every burden I bear has to be resolved to my satisfaction right this moment, today, now.

It doesn’t. They don’t.

Now, Eve’s dilemma was not overly complicated: she already knew the right answer. God had been very clear in his instructions to Adam. Some of the choices we are called to make are just that obvious. The only way we can make a mistake is through rank disobedience; through letting the words of the Enemy sit and fester in our heads when we should dismiss them entirely.

But other choices are not so simple and clear. Street signs are a lot harder to read in the fog, and the Christian life is frequently foggy. But the sense that we must decide NOW can be just as acute; the pressure to just get it over with almost overwhelming.

Walking and Waiting

That phrase “wait on the Lord” is found all over the Old Testament, and yet I do so little of it. Psalm 25, for instance, is all about walking with the Lord in this life:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”
The psalm initially appears to be all about movement:
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.”
Sinners on the wrong road need direction, and God is like a spiritual GPS, laying out the right way to go as we move through life:
“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
When someone leads, you follow, and when you follow you’re moving, right?
“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness ...”
And the thing about paths is they are made to be walked on.

But not all the time.

Stop Right There

Maybe you’ve noticed David’s psalm about walking seems to involve an awful lot of stopping:
“For you I wait all the day long.”
And again:
“May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”
And best of all:
“None who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”
“Wantonly” here means arbitrarily or without cause. “Treacherous” simply means acting covertly or deceptively. The victim of the deception may be another person (which is why some translators prefer “treacherous”) or, like Eve, you may simply con yourself (so the word is also frequently translated “transgress”). The people who will be put to shame are those who make a move without good cause and wind up stepping over the line into territory best left alone.

They move when they don’t have to. When they should be waiting instead. And because our actions almost always affect others, quite often other people move with them, hence the treacherous aspect of their action.

Put to Shame

Waiting on the Lord is not easy. It goes against all our instincts. People will tell us we’re being too passive: “God helps those who helps themselves.”

(Oddly, I can’t find the reference for that verse. It’s probably in 2 Hezekiah, with the other verse about money being the root of all evil, and the one that says people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. No, really. Some people actually think that one’s in the Bible.)

But the alternative to waiting is shame. The alternative is making a wrong move and living with the consequences. Marrying that man you weren’t completely sure about and then finding out there was a really good reason you weren’t sure. Pushing the elders for an answer, so the answer ends up being no. Running away from a messy church situation that didn’t suit your kids because, well, “We had to do SOMETHING, right?”

Not necessarily. When we don’t have a clear answer from Heaven, sometimes the best move is ... not moving at all.

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