Sabbath Evenings – Qa-vah’
[A bit late in posting, I apologize. This is long — a difficult post to write as I am still in process on this topic]
In my study, sitting on a bookshelf is a length of rope. Odd maybe, but it’s good to know it’s there when I need it. I have a few other oddities, i.e. Oklahoma dirt in a jar, a rock with painted words, a couple of buffalo figures, the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, a censer, etc. Most of them are gifts. They convey the unique care of friends and family. I’m glad I have them. The piece of rope was not a gift, though. I picked that one up myself. I take it out and hold it for a while when I have spent a long time waiting on God to answer my prayers.
I am patient about many things, but not so much when it comes to my God. It seems very reasonable to me that a prayer request made anywhere from a week to 20 or 30 years ago has endured the test of my more than patient waiting. Easily, God should have answered by now. It’s crazy. So, I call God into question (much like Job) and shout out how non-sensical and outrageous He seems to be. “Do you care? Am I nothing to you? What’s the point?” Or, I might get really spiritual, open up to Psalm 13 and say “There! David asked ‘How long O Lord?’ Can I get an answer? Now?” After all, waiting on God is not a new path for me. I know and have experienced His character to be reliable, faithful, and good to a name a few. But more often than not I call God into question on the waiting issue and default into the delusional belief that I am in control. I take matters into my own hands and quickly spiral into an emotional black hole. Anxiety. Fear. Frustration. Anger. Depression. My fallen sinful nature leaves me empty. But I know when I get to this point of bellyaching and feeling that God has forgotten me, it’s time to take out the rope, hold it in my angry demanding hands and pray a different prayer. [Not to worry, the rope is not long enough to make a noose in response to the pure madness waiting brings!]
So, with rope in hand I begin to think again and meditate on God’s word wait. Qa-vah’ (kaw-vaw’) is one of four Hebrew words for the english word ‘wait.’ Qa-vah’ means to wait, to bind together (perhaps by twisting strands as in making a rope), to look patiently, to tarry or wait, hope, expect, and look eagerly. I like the Old Testament image of a weaver taking lots of little pieces of string into his hands twisting, weaving, and binding them together to make a rope. Weaving in more strands makes for a stronger rope.
Seeing the loose strands at the end of the rope, God jogs my memory about the twisting and twining and twirling of Qavah according to Him:
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130. 5,6)
The strand of time passing. I started with the easiest one. Time passing is a daily rhythm. I get that. I rise at dawn to receive the day and at sunset prepare for it’s end. Without fail, I don’t give passing the time a second thought. It just is. The watchmen waited for the passing of time until morning [which would certainly come] when they were relieved of their night watch. Nothing to control, here. Waiting for the Lord includes the passage of time.
The strand of hope. Waiting and watching are intertwined to form hope. This hope is different from “I wish for” or “I dream of.” It’s active. I participate by confident expectation. The watchmen wait through the night hours for morning. And while they watched and waited and hoped they went about their work, no scurry, no worry. Hope is a “confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do . . . It is a willingness to let God do it his way in his time.” (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction). No more bullying God. He does not except quarters like my favorite vending machine – instantly dispensing what I crave and push for.
To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. —Henri Nouwen
The strand of remembering. God reminds me who He is and everything He has taught me about Himself. About His character, wisdom, lovingkindness, timing, promises, faithfulness, and enduring patience. He points out people in His word for whom He never failed. The watchmen knew the rising of the sun was a reliable event from the previous night, and the night before, etc. This is one of the most endearing times when I hold my rope, as Yahweh highlights His love and faithfulness. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
The strand of irony. The irony is that while I am actively watching and hoping for God’s answer, I am also resting in Him. I cling to the rope and am stilled. “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37.7). “Cease striving (be still”) and know that I am God” (Ps. 46.10). I don’t run ahead of the Holy Spirit, take shortcuts, or come up with a self-made formula. “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
Back onto my bookshelf the rope goes until the next time impatience with God overtakes me. [maybe later today!] I have indeed responded poorly to the Lord’s care and presence in my life. Forgiveness has come through Jesus and now the Holy Spirit strengthens me and helps me wait, watch and hope in Him. And He will do that for you!
Yet those who Qa-vah’ for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40.31)
They that “twist” themselves up with the LORD shall find renewed strength – even in the long waiting.