If you had told me back when he was thirteen years old that we would wait over a decade for our prodigal, our firstborn son, to make his way back home to Jesus, I’m not sure I would have felt relief. More like despair.
I see it on parents’ faces now, the ones who suspect even before the sucker punch of adolescence hits, that the innocence they once prized in their child may have already left the building of that child’s heart. That rebellion has already opened the door to some rough years ahead. That maybe they’ll survive, but maybe they won’t.
Our complete and substantial and abiding joy in Matt’s return is small comfort to a mother or a father who waits. Because what if they have to wait ten more years for God to act? Or longer? And what if… well, it’s just too painful to consider all those what ifs.
While the locusts are gnawing away at what feels like your child’s best years, restoration is almost impossible to imagine. Your hope—that God will intervene—is slippery at best.
This is why I love the Psalms with a passion. The circumstances that prompted David to write them are eerily similar to my own circumstances or the circumstances of people I love. A flaw that grew into the monster of sin. Betrayal by friends and family. Fear. The loss of a child, either to death or to that own child’s defiance. Worse case scenarios coming true.
The other day I read Psalm 28, and I was reminded of what I believe was the best outcome during those long years of waiting. David said, “To you, O Lord, I call. My rock, do not be deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me I become like those who go down into the pit…” (Psalm 28:1)
David was right. The best outcome to your worst nightmare is not that God will act, but that he will speak.
Does this mean I don’t ask him to act? That I am not allowed to ask him for the timetable he may never reveal? Of course not. But I am certain of this, that the greater miracle to be found in begging God to act or asking him how long is not in getting him to do what we want when we want it, but in hearing what he has to say to us smack in the middle of our asking.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “Nothing touches our lives but it is God Himself speaking. Do we discern His hand or only mere occurrence? Get into the habit of saying, ‘Speak, Lord,’ and life will become a romance.”
To think I almost missed the romance by insisting on God’s intervention at all costs, as if I could force his hand.. By putting my children, my circumstances, my life itself on the main stage of my heart. By shifting the spotlight away from the Light of the world, my world. By clinging to the answers that did come as if they were the currency of love instead of clinging to the One who does indeed act, but who longs for our ears to open to him before our hands.