An Advent Journey: Stop, Look, Listen – Day 9

“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
O, the joys of those who trust the LORD,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.
You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand —
you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, ‘Look, I have come.
As is written about me in the Scriptures:
I take joy in doing your will, my God,
for your instructions are written on my heart.’
I have told all your people about your justice.
I have not been afraid to speak out,
as you, O LORD, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
of your unfailing love and faithfulness.
LORD, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.
Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles surround me —
too many to count!
My sins pile up so high
I can’t see my way out.
They outnumber the hairs on my head.
I have lost all courage.
Please, LORD, rescue me!
Come quickly, LORD , and help me.
May those who try to destroy me
be humiliated and put to shame.
May those who take delight in my trouble
be turned back in disgrace.
Let them be horrified by their shame,
for they said, ‘Aha! We’ve got him now!’
But may all who search for you
be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
repeatedly shout, ‘The LORD is great!’
As for me, since I am poor and needy,
let the LORD keep me in his thoughts.
You are my helper and my savior.
O my God, do not delay.”
Psalm 142, NLT

“O my God, do not delay.” Do not delay. 

Waiting is just plain hard. 

Wondering what is coming next and when it will arrive, wrestling fear and anxiety to the ground, learning to live ‘in the moment,’ finding graces woven through the ordinary fabric of our days — all of this is mixed into an anticipatory mash-up that sometimes threatens to undo us. 

Our singer today knows a bit about mash-ups, I think. This song wanders from praise for the end of waiting, through confession, to a bit of boasting about personal obedience, back around to desperately waiting upon the mercy of God for an undefined rescue.  

This is what I love about these ancient songs, these poetic lines that have been saved for us all these years: they express the whole range of human emotion — nothing is hidden from God. 

As we move our way slowly and intentionally toward that stable trough in Bethlehem — and as we move through our days , looking to the skies for that promised trumpet sound —  these words become more and more urgent: O my God, do not delay. YOU are my helper and my savior – do not delay.

Thank you Holy Father, for this song which we borrow from the ages, this song that we sing right along with the singer from so long ago. Remind us that you are the only one who can rescue us, the only one. And yet, you came so small, so vulnerable, so weak. Rescue comes in surprising packages and we are ready to be surprised. Again and again and again.

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