Waiting To Be Asked

It happens more and more the older I get. Someone—usually someone young—is muddling his way through some difficulty or other. He hasn’t confided in me, but I have a rough idea of what’s going on. And he’s floundering. Not because he’s lazy or bad, but because he lacks experience and wisdom. He jumps to conclusions based on insufficient information, creating rifts that might not heal. I watch, and wait, and wish. I’m not exactly Solomon, but I have managed to pick up enough wisdom to navigate these waters. I know I could help—if only I were asked.

Sometimes it’s right to step up and intervene without being asked. Usually it’s not. Forcing a confidence is like helping a baby bird out of its shell: you can’t succeed without destroying something. The advice loses its value when presented unasked-for; the frame of mind isn’t right, and the words fall on stony ground.

So I stand and watch, mute and effectively powerless, hands tied by my own resolution not to barge in where I’m not wanted, wishing I could communicate without words that I’m not the enemy. It’s not merely that I can help; I want to help, I’d be thrilled to help. It would delight my soul to know that this person thought well enough of me to ask, that he trusted me, that he gave me a chance to make a difference for good.

Isn’t this the heart of God towards his children? Blind and bewildered, we stumble for lack of direction, and all the time he’s waiting eagerly to give it—if we would but ask. We often think of wisdom as something remote and inaccessible to ordinary mortals, but God offers it freely. Proverbs 8 pictures wisdom as a woman standing in a public place, crying out to any and all to listen and learn. God is compassionate toward our weakness; he doesn’t reproach us for not having all the answers already, and he encourages our feeblest sincere efforts. I love Isaiah 42:3: A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

Seems like everything that makes me sorrowful teaches me something about God…

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