Building Altars While Waiting on God

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“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.””

Exodus 32:1 (ESV)

Waiting is one of the hardest things to do in life. It doesn’t matter if it’s something small, like waiting for your food when you’re out at dinner, or waiting to save up enough money to buy that special something. Or maybe something really big like waiting for healing, or for your loved one to come back home after being gone for a really long time. Waiting is just tough. No one likes to do it. If someone said they did, they’re not being honest. That’s why rush hour and Department of Motor Vehicles make people shudder.

It’s no different when it comes to waiting for God. Since God is invisible, we often don’t see Him at work. That doesn’t mean that He’s not at work. We just don’t see it. Because of that, we can fall into the very same trap that the Israelites did in the Exodus out of Egypt. Many days had gone by, and the people started to grow restless. Out of impatience, and selfishness, they called on Aaron (Moses’ brother) to craft gods for them. They wanted something they could see, touch, and experience.

Before we jump to any kind of judgement, we better do some introspection. Life is speeding up. Each new decade brings a faster pace of life with more ‘on demand’ qualities. We live in a universe that consists of Instant messaging, high speed wireless connections, and touch screen everything. Waiting is not a part of the game. To wait, is counter cultural. To wait is being impractical and inefficient. To wait is a societal sin. Am I right? I’ve had the advantage of growing up in a pre-internet world, and watching the transition in society unfold before my very eyes. And it has not been pretty.

I would be a hypocrite if I just took shots at the internet, smartphones, and the high speed life. I’m even typing this on my iPhone. The reason I say it hasn’t been pretty is because it feed the beast inside me. I am a doer. I love getting things done. Yes even multiple things done at once. I love fast connections and high efficiency. So much so, that when I don’t get a lot done, I feel as though my day was not as useful. And that, my dear friends, is the problem. We are taking major steps backwards in human development as we embrace the tech-filled life.

A life absent if waiting, is a life full of altars. It’s a life that has demanded that gods be made to go before them. Sound a bit extreme? How about this. I’ll list a few human constructed altars that I’ve had in my life and I’ll leave the rest to you.

Altar #1-human self sufficiency

Why wait I’m God to provide for us when we can make our own way? That’s the attitude of a me first, now not later mentality. We hear people say ‘create yourself’ or ‘be the master of your own soul’. That’s a harsh accusation against the One who actually created us and breathed the very soul into us. But think about it. We spend so much of our life trying to create situations where we don’t actually need God.

Altar #2-Refusing to rest

The principal of rest is interwoven into the human story. God designed it that way since creation. To always be doing is to deny God’s instruction. Rest can actually be one of the most efficient and useful things we can do with our lives. A lack of rest destroys our health and greatly limits our brain function. Where’s the efficiency in that? It also makes our life to full to actually spend with God (even when doing things for God).

Altar #3-Digital reinforcement

God made us relational beings with a need to be connected to others. The digital social media universe has created artificial relationships with little depth and a breeding ground for hostility and depression like has never existed before. We live in a world where people would rather have their faces in a phone texting people, or scrolling to read about other’s lives, rather than have a good rich conversation with those in the room with them. But we love to rack up the ‘likes’, ‘re-posts’, and hundreds of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’.

Altar #4-Fillers

We constantly try to fill our own needs. We do this with Sports, money, careers, hobbies, video games etc…we even teach this to our children at a young age when we have them involved in everything under the sun or allow them to park in front of a screen for hours on end. I’m not talking about doing something you love and brings enjoyment. But moderation seems to be an after thought for many. You’ll know if it’s an altar if it is used as an escape from reality or is a part of your identity.

All four of the altars above, keep us from doing one thing: waiting on God. Our lives are so full, we forgot to carve out space for Him. To even phrase it like that seems wrong. We can’t be digitally connected to Him. If we could, I’m sure most people would rather text Him then spend quality time with Him. But God wants far more than a surface level relationship with His creation.

God made us to enjoy Him. And we cannot do that if our lives are full of gods we’ve made for ourselves. Sometimes enjoying God means waiting for Him to say “go” or “stay”. God wants to be the filler of our needs and not replaced with lesser things. God wants to be our rest because that’s often where He meets with us. God wants to be our sufficiency. And let’s face it, any notion of being a self made man or women is just lie anyways. We’ve never taken a breath that wasn’t given to us and have no talent that wasn’t ingrained in us from God himself.

We have to get past the altar-filled life and relearn the art of waiting. Even if He stays silent on the mountain for 40 days like He did with the Israelites, they were still free. That freedom had been bought for them. We may not be hearing the answers from Him right now, or seeing Him move in huge ways, but we too are free. We need to stop filling up our lives and hoping God moves in the meantime. We need to smash our idols and make room for Him to move.

It’s in the waiting that we experience real peace. It’s in the waiting that we can step back and see life through the big picture. It’s in the waiting that we can hear God more clearly. And it’s in the waiting that we are changed. Join me brothers and sisters, in slowing down. Join me in the waiting.

Peace to all of you in Christ Jesus!

 

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