January 5, 2019

Caught Waiting

Thomas Manton (1620-1677) 
It is time for the Lord to act, for your law has been broken.
Ps. 119:126 

This is a difficult verse, and the Bible seems to be of two minds on the subject it treats. On the one hand, we are told not to put faith in mortals, but only in God. On the other hand, we are told to take just or righteous actions, since God has put that responsibility into our hands. So how do I discern the difference between the consistent actions of a faithful Christian and the extraordinary intervention of God when things have gone too far? Is now, such a time? After all, respect for God's law seems to be lower than ever before—and so-called "Christians" seem to be the worst offenders. In an era when corruption, sexual assault, and racism reign at the highest levels of government in the strongest nation on earth, is it finally time to say to God: "I've done my best, it's your turn now"?


The problem is that humans often do nothing for years, and then blame God when problems advance to the stage that they are beyond human help. In a sermon using this verse as his text, Thomas Manton once said,
They that thought it no great matter to have a standing temple, delight in the dust of a ruinous heap. When shepherds’ tents look lovely, we set a higher rate on despised ordinances. In short, they are waiting and praying, and humbling their souls before God. 
In other words, we don't appreciate what we've got until it's gone, and while we don't demand action of ourselves before things reach a crisis point, we don't hesitate to demand it of God when our neglect leads to catastrophe.

Certainly, asking for the help of God is always in season. But so is acting according to what I know to be the will of God. It may sometimes be God's will for us to sit back and pray, but now is no such time. God is still at work through the actions of the faithful. When (or if) God finally intervenes, will I be caught waiting for God's action to come by another route, all the while doing nothing to help the oppressed, feed the hungry, heal the sick, or protect the vulnerable?

May I humble myself before you, Lord, not so that I may be excused from an active life in your Kingdom, but so that I may be strengthened with your strength to do what must be done; in the Name of the One who taught me to pray...

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