We hate waiting, especially waiting in lines, don’t we? I’m always looking ahead to see who might hold the line up and why. Yesterday, I read the signs right and escaped a dead-end line at the store just in time to get into one that whisked me through. It doesn’t go like that every time. Here’s a line I can’t avoid. The “prayer lines” we wait in, hoping for changes our loved ones need, can suffer long delays (somebody say amen).
Today, the Lord gave me a flash of insight to what often holds things up. He’s waiting for our prayer “target” to get tired. Tired of running from Him. Tired of struggling to go on in their own headstrong, wrong way. Not just any kind of tired—heart tired. At the Mission where I work, we call it being “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The addict has to become “mature in their misery” before they want to quit. I just hadn’t seen (until now) how it applies across the board to all of us.
Hard-Headed Hope Dies Hard
A friend at lunch told me one of the men he was ministering to in prison summed it up this way: “A man [or woman] has to get really tired of what he’s doing before he’s ready to change.” That’s it isn’t it? So long as we have a glimmer of hope that our chosen way is going to work, we’ll keep working at it, like Tonka toy robots banging brainless into the wall. It doesn’t matter what the wrong way is. We could be people-pleasers, anger-junkies, workaholics or publicity hounds, etc. Maybe it’s not a wrong disposition so much as a bad idea: “Hey Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. This time for sure!” We’ll keep at it until we’re convinced it’s a dead-end.
Some of us evidently need a lot of convincing! A curious loyalty over-shadows us. As I’ve listened to the stories, there is almost a guilty note in the way they lament to me, “Rev, I just couldn’t do the crack anymore. I was getting so sick and tired of what it was doing to me.” Do you hear it? That sense of misplaced loyalty to the bad idea? “But everyone was begging you to stop! Why are you apologizing for getting tired?”
Waiting for the “Coup de Grâce”
To convince us the Lord lets us wear ourselves out. Have you noticed this? If you’re going in a good direction, or going at it in a way that He can bless, there is always just enough energy, inspiration and encouragement to keep you going (“He gives grace to the humble”). If you are going the wrong way, all that runs out (“He opposes the proud”). By natural disposition we each have different levels of strength we can call on. Some of us have greater reserves of energy, or more will power, or a greater confidence that our (wrong) way is right. It doesn’t matter. The Lord can out last us all!
Eventually, we “crash and burn” by hitting the wall too many times, or totally run out of gas, worn down by our own unrecognized wrongness. Then, we can finally hear the “Standing Invitation” and respond: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My Yoke upon you and learn of Me for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28). But catch the wink. He was the One who made sure we would wear ourselves out. Only then we can “learn of Him” what it was that was wrong about our way and finally throw it in the fire.
Time to Come Home?
How much better would it be, if we could stay “yoked”? Then, inner rest and refreshment would be our daily inheritance. That’s a worthy goal. Nevertheless, despite our best efforts, left-over ideas and half-baked ways (that we can’t recognize as being wrong) are liable to snare us. Are you weary? Your “tiredness” just may be a gift from your Best Friend, inviting you to “come to Him.” But I think it also explains why our prayers are still waiting in line for our loved ones to respond. They just aren’t tired enough yet…
For more on casting off heavy burdens see “False Burden Bearing” at our website.