I was rolling out tortillas and singing, as I so often do. Sometimes absentmindedly, but this time I was actually listening to the words. Psalm 5 (a version by Maranatha) came to mind, so I sang it in English and Spanish. And the last phrase caught me.
In English, it ends “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.”
In Spanish, it ends “Oiras my voz de mañana, O Dios, de mañana, me presentaré ante Ti, y esperaré.” which translated word-for-word (but grammatically), is “You will hear my voice in the morning, O Lord, in the morning, I will present myself before Thee, and wait.”
Look up. Wait. Hmm.
So I went and did a little studying (after my 5 dozen tortillas were done).
NIV: “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
ESV: “O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.”
The word translated “watch”, “wait”, or “look up”, means, according to Strong’s: “properly, to lean forward, ie. to peer into the distance; by implication, to observe, await: – behold, espy, look up (well), wait for, (keep the) watch(-man). Also translated watchman, watch, behold, look, espy, look up, waited, look well.”
My theme verse for this blog is Psalm 34:5 “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.”
I want to know more of what it is to look to Him. I want to behold my God and become like Him. I want to know who He is, how He works, what His attributes are, what His will is, and learn to truly love Him with my mind, not just my heart.
When it says to “Be still, and know that I am God”, what does it mean to know that He is God? How do I look to Him rightly, or wait upon Him? Who is He? Have I grown so familiar with Christianity that I have forgotten Who my God is, unlike anything or anyone else?
I’m reading a book called “None Like Him” by Jen Wilkin, in which she goes over 10 attributes of God: He is infinite, incomprehensible, self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign.
Familiar “church words”. But do I grasp who God really is, as described in these words? Not really. To rightly look up, watch, or wait expectantly, I think perhaps I must start with knowing Who it is I am looking to, watching for, and waiting upon.
Only as I know Him and look to Him will I become radiant. “You become what you behold”, they say, and I long to be like Him. So therefore I must behold Him. Spend time with Him. Talk and listen to Him. Worship Him. Read His Word, study it out, allow it to reveal to me Who God is, and as I know Him, let that change the way I live.
But there is more to this verse, more that must change in the way I approach looking to Him. It says that looking to Him means to “wait expectantly”. In the context of prayer. And that is convicting to me.
I believe that God is sovereign. I have learned that His sovereignty means that He will work all things for good, but that there will still be much suffering in this world. I have dwelled on verses like 1 Pet. 4:12-13:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”
I have embraced the refining as described in 1 Pet. 1:6-7
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I have grown to deeply appreciate the instruction found in 1 Pet. 4:19
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”
These are lessons worth learning. But perhaps I have allowed them to obscure other verses, like His promise to withhold no good thing, or that He is a God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. My prayers have looked more like “God, I trust You, and _____ is my request, and I know You could grant it, but I don’t think You will, so help me to trust You when You don’t.” Almost to the point of expecting a no.
And when God says no to prayers for earthly healing for a very dear friend, it confirms that way of thinking. When God says no to a grant for a ministry I love, I take it in stride. When I watch wayward siblings continue in a path away from God, I’m not surprised. When a relationship that I prayed would progress doesn’t, the silence is exactly what I expect.
But is that really who my God is? Does He want me to approach His throne and pray “God, I don’t think You will answer my prayers with anything other than ‘no’ or ‘wait’?”
I wonder what I would do with a yes, particularly to some of these requests that I have been making for what seems like a very long time. I trust His faithfulness, but perhaps I am less trusting that He would actually say yes, that His best would also be pleasurable, that there are good things this side of heaven.
To be fair, I am typically a “the glass is full and probably overflowing” kind of girl, not a “glass half-empty”. So this is not to say that I have been depressed or that my life isn’t full of delightful things or that I’m not fully grateful for His many good gifts that surround me today. Joy comes easily to me, and hoping equally so.
But, for me, I am sensing that I have not been fully embracing God’s goodness along with His sovereignty. And I am fairly sure that I am not alone in that struggle. It may be even harder for some of you who are not so naturally inclined to see everything through rose-colored glasses.
It all stems from not rightly believing God to be God. From not knowing who He really is. He is a God who does all things well.
It matters Who we look to, watch for, and wait expectantly upon. We cannot rightly look to Him if we do not know Him. And we cannot rightly know Him unless we look to Him. It is a both/and. We must love God with our minds AND our hearts.
My encouragement to you today (and what I am preaching to myself!), is to look to Him. Watch for Him. Pray waiting expectantly upon Him. Know Him. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
May this psalm be one that teaches us a bit more of Who He is, a God who listens, forgives, loves us steadfastly, and redeems us:
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with Him is plentiful redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all His iniquities.” Psalm 130:1-8
Also, this song:
Blessings, dear friends! May you look to Him and be radiant, and may your face be not ashamed.