I have always felt a certain kinship with beginners. In the Bible there is all the talk about running the race, and about reaching the goal, but as for me, I have this tendency to want to go back to the start, to wipe the slate clean, to begin again.
I guess I know where this comes from. As a child of divorced parents, I always wanted to go back to the time before the break-up. I wanted a restoration. There was something not right, not natural, without Dad around. I mourned, and I learned the lesson that life was about decline and diminishment and hopes unfulfilled.
If I were to build a house, all the joy and excitement for me would be at the start, with nothing but a grand vision in my head and an assortment of tools in my belt. But in the doing of the thing, that's when the disappointment comes.
Well, that's always been my attitude. I'm not saying it's wise or right. Perhaps it's no more than a stronghold of the mind. But there it is. I can think of times when I stood at at the doorway to a wonderful new prospect, and turned around. And hunkered down in my narrow little world and said, Not for me. Not yet. Not ready.
So I call myself, Beginner. And I don't really know what role a perpetual beginner like me might play in the great dance of providence. Maybe what I've lacked is hope. The expectation of good things. Of growth, not decline. Of presence, not absence.
Yes, as I write these words I begin to see. All along, even as a believer, I have lacked the proper expectation. Trusting God is about expecting Him to act, and expecting Him to act in accordance with His nature, which is love and wisdom and might.
In Psalm 27, David cries out to God. It is the song of a seeker. He wants more of God. He wants God's presence, which means also, God's favor. He dreams of it. He cries out for it. And then he says, "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." You see? He has a sense of sure expectation. He knows--he KNOWS--that God will answer. And then finally he says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Expectation always involves waiting. And waiting requires patience. It even requires being strong--that is, I think, holding on to one's hopes. Not being led astray simply because they have not been fulfilled within a certain time-frame. No, it's about keeping on. Continuing. Standing strong. It even requires courage sometimes, because it may seem to fly in the face of all that the world calls reasonable.
So we have here 1) David worshipping, 2) David crying out, and 3) David waiting patiently and with expectation. And he says, Take heart. Don't give up or lose hope. I might add, don't diminish what you expect from God so as to avoid being disappointed. To do so is to prepare your heart for disappointment, and it is to distrust God. Worship. Call. Wait. Hope. Take courage. Keep on. Expect. You too will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.