One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. So many great quotes from that movie. Who has not heard that line of Indigo Montoya, “I will walk up to the six-fingered man and say, ‘Hello. My name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!'”? Classic!
In the scene before he issues that immortal line, he is waiting for the hero of the story, Wesley, “The Man in Black,” to climb the Cliffs of Insanity to meet him in battle. He looks down at him watching as he slowly makes the dangerous climb, and calls down to him, “I do nota suppose you coulda speed things up?”
Wesley looks up and replies, “Well if you are in such a rush you could lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do.”
“I could do that. In fact I have some rope up here. But I do nota think you woulda accept my help, since I am only awaiting around to kill you!”
“That does put a damper on our relationship…”
“But, I promise I will not kill you until you reach the top.”
“That’s very comforting, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait.”
To which Indigo says out loud to himself, “I hate waiting!”
I know how he feels. I hate waiting.
One of the things I have been learning is that sometimes we just have to wait. In Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) God says,
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
The historical context is that the empire of Assyria was advancing towards Judah and Jerusalem. They had already over taken the 10 northern tribes of Israel. They were next on the menu. They had a vast and fearsome army and the king Hezekiah of Judah looked to the nation of Egypt for help instead of God. This verse is the beginning of God’s reply to this move. Egypt, God said, was false hope. If they wanted to survive, they should not trust in men but in their God. In fact, God planned to save them, but His plan was that they do nothing, not even assembling the army, that He would defeat them Himself. Therefore, they should repent for their lack of faith and rest in His promise.
This weekend on two fronts, I have been learning this same lesson. I found myself facing two situations, one with a family member and one with a friend who needed help that I was not able to give.
Yet in all honesty, this is not the first time God has kept me away from loved ones in time of need. When I lived in Orlando back in the mid 1990’s, my parents almost lost the house several times. Dad had lost his job and was out of work for years. He was very depressed. He told me at one point that if he thought his significance and worth were based in his ability to provide for his family, he would have committed suicide. I was 1500 miles away. Unable to get home (even if I did, what good would it do? I couldn’t solve the financial need). I felt helpless. I could not understand why God was letting this crap just go on, and on, and on. What could the point be? What lesson was left to learn? I was a student in seminary. Mandi and I did not have anywhere near the kind of money lying around to catch them up on their mortgage. I remember the day he told me that he would have killed himself had his self-worth not been in Christ. There was a hurricane. The wind was howling outside and the rain was falling in torrents. I was mad and frustrated with God, and I started into Him about it.
He answered me. “Look out the window. Do you see that young tree? It is bent over by the wind and the storm, but it is not broken. When this storm passes it will stand straight again. It will be stronger and tougher than it was before. In the same way, though your father is bent in this storm, he shall not break. Do not worry about your father or your mother, or about your house, for I am caring for them.”
I cried hearing that, but I relented, and submitted to that answer. God was true to His word. The tree did not break. After the storm it continued to grow tall and proud, its branches lush and green and reaching towards heaven. He provided my parents the money to keep the house. He got work again. His faith increased and his praise for His heavenly father deepened.
Sometimes, God calls us to wait and trust instead of act. Sometimes we need to be content in caring, loving, encouraging, and praying from a distance, or in waiting on God to bring healing that is beyond my power to give. It is a hard lesson. But God has always proved faithful. So for now, I repent for my lack of faith and for my desire to control everything, and rest in God who alone is my salvation, knowing that in quietness before Him and trust in Him I will find my strength.