The Waiting Place

Bible Book: Psalms  37 : 1-7, 11
Subject: Waiting; Patience; Trust
Introduction

I am taking my sermon title today from someone else, and he was not a great theologian. No, it is not some great preacher either. I didn't choose the title from Lord Byran, Tennyson, or Christina Rossetti. The title for my sermon, with apologies to the author, comes from someone you all know well - Dr. Seuss. Yes, Dr. Seuss inspired the title for today's message, though God's Word inspired the actual message. In one of his books, Dr. Seuss has a poem entitled, “The Waiting Place.” It reads like this:

“Waiting for a train to go,

Or a bus to come, or a plane to go,

Or the mail to come, or the rain to go,

Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow,

Or waiting around for a yes or a no,

Or waiting for their hair to grow,

Everyone is just waiting.”

Life is full of waiting and that is sad, because none of us really enjoy waiting. In fact, it is one of life's absolutely irratating experiences. Have you been in a doctor’s office lately? Most of us have. Don’t you just love those waiting rooms with the year old magazines and/or the television tuned to a channel that you never watch? I heard about a man who went to the doctor and waited for over an hour to be called to the examination room. Then he waited in the exam room with the door closed for another thirty minutes. Finally, the doctor walked in and asked, “How old are you?” The man answered sarcastically, “Do you want to know how old I was when I got here or how old I am right now!”

Doctor's waiting rooms are awful for several reasons.

First, you don’t have any idea of how long it is going to take before you are called.

Second, you have no control over anything.

Third, the glass window where the receptionist sits is closed and you can’t see what is going on behind the doors.

Fourth, someone comes in after you do but gets called into to see the doctor before you do.

Fifth, the music is monotonous or the television is on some silly program you never watch, or the magazine you choose is one you read in 2011.

In life, however, God sends us to The Waiting Place - His waiting room. It is part of His plan. We don’t know what is going on, we can’t see what He is doing, others seem to get ahead of us (and they aren’t even Christians), our circumstances aren't pleasant and we are totally frustrated by the experience - but it is still God's will for us to be there.

The Lord has a lot to say about The Waiting Place. I want you to turn with me to Psalm 37:1 today and let’s skim the surface of this subject today. There is enough material in the Bible on waiting to employ our minds for several sermons. I am not going to keep you waiting in worship today, so I will just touch on this subject, but it will help you if you gain some insight into the purpose and practice of waiting on God in the right frame of mind, in the right spirit and doing the right thing.

(Read Scripture - also read verse 11 in the text – then read Matthew 5:5 – not how Jesus was quoting the OT text in the Sermon on the Mount and take a moment to explain why.)

Our problem is that we want to be in control. It is often a matter of pride and self-centeredness. I read a story some time ago about Muhammad Ali, though it is likely a legend. It was from the early days of his career as a boxer. He was on an airplane sitting in first class when the stewardess went through the explanation about seat belts. She was kind of pretty and Ali thought he would flirt with her. The stewardess walked by him and said, “Sir, please buckle your seat belt.” Ali smiled and said, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.” She smiled back and said, “No, and if you were Superman, you wouldn’t need a plane – now fasten your seat belt.”

You see, we like to think that we can have things our way. As Christians we think we ought to get special privileges. Most of us want for the Lord to give us a special lane with our name on it so we can drive on the highway without having to slow down! Then again, maybe I am the only one who has prayed for that! Honestly though, we do become frustrated with having to wait. However, if we don’t learn to wait properly, it can be harmful.

You are probably asking yourself what meekness and waiting have to do with each other. The answer is: More than you think. You see, the word “meek” speaks of being under control. It is a word that was used in breaking wild horses. When you have a wild horse you can do one of three things. (1) You can let it run wild. (2) You can corral it and keep it locked up. (3) Or, you can break its will and tame it so that all that powerful strength can be harnessed for good and sometimes even for greatness. God is not going to let us run wild, and we are of no good if we lock ourselves up and can’t serve. God wants to teach us to be of service. He desires to fill us with His power and make our lives meaningful and effective.

When Jesus quoted the words from Psalm 37 in the Sermon on the Mount, it is likely that those who really knew the OT well thought about that passage and knew instantly something about His purpose in doing so. I want us to look at this today and learn how important it is to wait on God. After all, we are told in Isaiah 40 that those who wait upon the world shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint.

When I think of Isaiah 40, I am reminded of a preacher who was exhorting his church to great growth. He said, “If this church is going to grow, it has got to walk.” One lady cried out, “Let the church walk, preacher, let it walk!” Then the preacher became more excited and said, “If this church is going to grow, it has got to run.” A man yelled, “Let it run, preacher, let it run!” The preacher grew even more animated and said, “If this church is going to run, it has got to fly!” A saintly woman said, “Let it fly, preacher, let it fly.” Then the preacher drew himself up to full height and bellowed, “If this church is going to fly, it is going to take a lot of money.” There was silence for a moment and then an old man said, “Let the church walk, preacher, let the church walk.”

Well, you and I can't walk, run or fly for God unless we know how to live in The Waiting Place. God often calls on us to wait and we must learn to do that in the right way, with the right heart and the right attitude if we expect to have joy and success in our Christian living.

I want you to see a few things from this text today.

I. The Game Isn’t Over Till God’s Final Horn Blows – Psalm 37:1-2

The Bible tells us that one day a trumpet will sound and Christ will return. Just because you haven’t heard your own trumpet of success blow doesn’t mean that God isn’t working. Look at verses 1 and 2 in our text. We are told not to look at worldly success of evil people who are in charge and become angry or bitter, because God is working in our behalf even though we can't see it. The word God uses here is Fret. We are told not to fret – not to become “hot” or “angry”. The Lord is coming and He will bring judgment.

Let me say, if you are not living for God and everything is going your way, you better enjoy it now, because your day of judgment is coming. You may not like to hear that, but it is true. There is a day of judgment to come and it can happen any day, any minute – any second! That is exactly what the text says to us. Those who live for the "now" are like grass that will be suddenly be cut down.

Don’t judge the results of the game by the score on the scoreboard. The Super Bowl is a good example. It is one of the most widely viewed sports events in the entire world and in the history of the world. One thing that coaches say to the players is, “Don’t become discouraged. No matter what the score is, the game is not over till the final whistle blows.” That is good advice for us. I can tell you this, the Bible tells us that those who belong to the Lord will win in the end. Don't judge the game of your life before God's final horn blows.

II. God Has A Plan Even Though You Can’t Figure It Out - Psalm 37:3

Look at the word Trust. To trust means to be “secure”. It is a word that speaks of a refuge. The Lord is worthy of your trust.

Part of the reason for trusting God is looking at what He did in the past. Think about Jesus and His disciples as an example. They thought they had God's plan all figured out. Jesus was going to eventually reveal Himself as Lord, overthrow Herod, the false Temple service and the Roman Empire and that He was going to set Himself up as King. They couldn’t wait. Then came Calvary! That didn’t fit the plan they had in mind at all. The King on the Emperor’s cross? That made no sense to them. The Lord of glory dying an inglorious death? You see, they missed the waiting part. Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to them and instructed them for a number of days and then was ready to ascend into heaven. So, what did the disciples say at that point? Look at Acts 1:6-8. The disciples wanted to know if Jesus was ready to set up His kingdom. They still did not understand the plan God had for them. But, it didn't matter. God had a plan even though they could not see it. Jesus said to His disciples, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons!” God's plan included everyone in this room who are saved. The disciples were concerned with themselves and their place in the Kingdom of God, but Jesus was concerned with saving multitudes and granting them a place in the Kingdom. We have a place in the kingdom today because of that plan. I can tell you that we do not fully understand God's plan and it may seem to us that things are not going the way we think they should, but just be sure of this - God knows what He is doing. He has a plan and He is not anxious about it. It may not be comfortable for us at the moment but we will understand it better bye and bye!

Some years ago I was playing golf while away from home. Either I or one of the other players hit a ball in the woods – it was probably the other guy ‘cause I seldom hit a ball in the woods! Anyway, I was pushing around through the brush and I suddenly felt something sting my arm. I cried out, “Yoew!” The man who was with me said, “Stand still, you are caught in the wait-a-minute bush.” I said, “I'm caught in a what?” He said, “That bush is called a wait-a-minute bush. If you don’t wait a minute, it may pull the hide off your arm.” The bush had sharp, crooked briars on it and the more you pulled away from it the deeper the briars went into the flesh. Everyone there called it a wait-a-minute bush, because if you didn’t wait you were going to hurt for a long time.

What are you waiting for right now? A doctor’s report? A job offer? For an answer to some prayer? Are you frustrated? Don’t be. God has a plan. Your waiting is part of the process. Don't jerk to hard on God's plan because it may just be God's wait-a-minute bush for you. He hasn’t forgotten you. In fact, His plan includes giving you power through the Holy Spirit during this waiting time, and through that power He will make you a greater blessing than you can imagine. I know you can’t see it. The disciples couldn’t see it. But, you can trust Him, and that is what God calls on us to do.

He tells us in Psalm 37:3 to feed off the land. In other words, He wants us to be fed by the blessings He is providing rather than simply seeking what we think we need or what someone else has. If we are frustrated and angry while waiting, we miss the blessings He has for us at this very moment!

III. Love What You Have In Order To Get What You Need – Psalm 37:4

Note that the Bible tells us in verse 4 to “delight” in the Lord and that He will give us the “desires” of our hearts. The word delight is a word of love. It means to dote on or to adore something or someone. A new mother “delights” in her baby. She can’t stop looking at her child and holding her child close to her heart. That is the way we are to be with the Lord. Instead of looking at the world and wondering why things don’t add up to our own mathematical estimation of how they ought to be, we are to simply love the Lord - to delight in HIM. When we love Him, we see His heart. When we see His heart, His will becomes our will. We start praying in line with God’s will for us. When we do that, we get what we need most and what He desires for us to have. I must love the Lord first and foremost in order to pray and recieve what I really need and not just what I want.

This promise is not about getting what we want but is rather about loving Him enough to let Him make the decision. When our son was small, he had difficulty making a decision. We would tell him that he could buy a toy while we were shopping and we set a limit on much he could spend. He would look around and decide on one thing, but then he would see something else and change his mind. After doing that two or three times, we would tell him that he had to decide on one toy or the other. Often, he would look at me and say, “Daddy, you decide!” Whatever toy I chose among those he had considered pleased him. He had learned to trust the heart of his father. I don't ever remember him saying, "Daddy, I wish I had gotten that other toy." My decision was fine!

God wants us to love him so much that we can say, “Abba, Father, you decide.” You can be sure that when we do that, God will make a decision that turns out to be exactly what we need. It may be something we did not even consider because our hearts are so conflicted, but we will agree as time passes that God knew exactly what He was doing and what He gave us is exactly what we wanted in the spiritual corner of our hearts!

Some people confuse this passage. They think that this text means we can demand from God what we want and He will give it to us. You hear that from time to time from the "seed faith" preachers. Actually, it is the very opposite of that thinking. God is telling us to get so near Him in love and devotion that we can trust His decisions in our lives. When I love Him more than any other person or any other thing, my heart's desire will be connected to His heart. Only then will He give me the desires of my heart!

IV. Keep on Waiting Without Whining – Resting Without Wrestling – Serving Without Stressing - Psalm 37:7

The word “commit” means to surrender. We are back to the word “meek” again. We are not surrendering to the world when we are meek, we are surrendering to God. When we do that, we are strong. Meekness is not weakness.

I read about a man who drove down an alley one day in a little Volkswagen bug and he met a man coming the other way in a big truck. There was no room for both vehicles to pass. The man in the truck stuck his head out the window and said, “You better back up mister ‘cause I don’t back up for fools.” The man in the Volkswagen stuck his head out the window and said, “That’s okay, I always back up for fools!” And, he put his car in reverse and backed away. Guess who won that argument? Meekness is not weakness but the power of doing what is right!

God wants us to trust Him and love Him. You remember when Jesus came to the home of Mary and Martha? Martha was busy in the kitchen getting a meal ready. Mary was sitting in another room listening to Jesus teach. Martha starting fuming! She was wondering why Mary was sitting there doing nothing while she was slaving in the kitchen. The more she thought about it, the angrier she became. Finally, Martha burst into the room and said, “Why isn’t Mary helping me? Do I have to do all this by myself?” Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, why are you so upset. Mary has chosen the better thing.” Now, listen to me closely at this point. Jesus was not saying that Martha was wrong to be working. Jesus was saying that Mary was doing at that moment what was God’s will for her. Martha was working but she wasn’t doing it for the right reason. She waited for Mary to help her and when help didn’t come, Martha became angry. The problem was that Martha was not doing her work for the right reason. She could have joined Mary and Jesus if she wanted to. She could have said, “Lord, I want to feed you but I really need to hear you.” What do you think Jesus would have said? I don’t know for sure, but I know what He said to His disciples on one occasion: “I have meat to eat that you know nothing about!”

Commit all you do to Him. Serve Him for the right reason. Never be jealous of another servant who is getting more attention. If you do that, God promises to bring good things to pass. Wait on the Lord. Let Him bring about results!

Martha was all stressed out, not because the work was hard but because she thought things weren’t fair. Mary seemed to have a better position than she had. She was whining instead of waiting for Jesus to work it all out. She was wrestling in her heart rather than resting in her soul. She was stressing out rather than serving up what Jesus wanted and needed from her.

Conclusion

So, if you want to learn to wait on the Lord in a way that will bring you to a point of victory, do these four things. Remember that the game is not over till God’s final horn blows. Second, realize that God has a plan even when you can’t see it. Third, love what you have in Jesus and you will get exactly what you need. Finally, don’t fret but be faithful. Don’t whine but wait. Don’t wrestle but rest in the Lord. Don’t stress out but simply serve Him.

A man had a dream in which God told him to push a large rock in his yard. The next morning he went outside and began to push the huge stone. Of course, it didn’t move. Later that day, he tried it again. No movement! He did that two or three times a day for about two months. He was praying one evening and said, “Lord, I have pushed the rock as you told me, but it hasn’t moved.” This is the response he got from heaven, “I didn’t tell you to move the rock but to simply push it. Now, look at your shoulders – how big and strong they are. Look at your arms – they have become massive. Look at your hands – your fingers are large and your hands are calloused. You see, my child, I am getting you ready for something in your future. You are strong enough now to do what I have planned for you.”

Dear Christian, waiting is not wasted time. God is strengthening you for the future. God is preparing you for battles ahead. He is getting you ready for something better. Wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength – you will mount up on wings as eagles – you will run and not be weary – you will walk and not faint.

There is one person in this room today who should not wait. If you have never received Christ, you must not wait. There must be no delay. “NOW” is God’s Word to you. Come to Him today. All the rest of us must commit our hearts to rest in Him till the horn of heaven blows, the archangel shouts and the Lord comes in victory. Respond to Him now!