I Wait for the Lord

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the LORD
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities”
(Psalm 130:5-8).

Nehemiah stepped from the last stair up onto the watchtower. Daniel was there, waiting to be relieved. Some evenings Daniel would loiter and they would talk about current events or family news, but tonight Nehemiah simply nodded curtly and took up his position. Daniel disappeared down the staircase.

Evening was already drawing in. The breeze was brisk. Nehemiah knew by morning his hands would be numb and his feet like bricks. He looked out west at the setting sun, over the fields beyond the city. All the grapes had been harvested, and the last of the farmers, preparing vineyards for the winter season, were headed back to the city in conversational groups. Farther out, the wheat fields were also bare, fading in the weakening light.

Nehemiah looked east. In the opposite direction loomed the mountain pass, now glowing orange in the last rays of the evening sun, black shadows strengthening in the ravines. The last of the travelers were hastening to reach the security of the city before nightfall. And below, the city was preparing for the night, mothers calling their children in, men laughing with each other in the streets, animals being fed and put up for the night. Now and then he could smell cook fires and someone’s dinner being prepared. Everything following the daily routine.

Everything except Nehemiah. His thoughts were tumbling over each other. He was so angry he could barely tolerate the contented sounds of the evening around him. He smashed his fist down on the stone wall, as if he could transfer his frustration to the wall. It didn’t help. He sighed and began to walk the wall.

It was all his son’s fault. His son Jacob had skipped his chores yet again. When Nehemiah woke late in the day, Jacob was still sitting, practicing the harp. Nehemiah’s wife’s mother, Miriam, had come to live with them when she became too frail and blind to live alone. But there was nothing wrong with her ears, as she was glad to boast, and she could tell Jacob immediately how to correct a wrong note, so now she was teaching him to play the harp. Miriam was an excellent player herself, as well as a good teacher. And Jacob loved to practice. Nehemiah knew that.

When Nehemiah had found Jacob with his chores undone he lost his temper, again. They had had that argument over and over. Jacob was old enough to be responsible and follow directions. In his anger he had made fun of his son; now he hung his head when he thought of the hurtful things he had said. Jacob had burst into tears, and Sarah flew to the defense of her son and accused him of being a terrible father. Even Miriam, who usually stayed completely neutral in family matters, had chimed in to tell him Jacob truly had talent that should be encouraged, not belittled.

So now Nehemiah was a terrible father, hated by his son, his wife, and his wife’s mother, and he felt like a bully. He hit the wall again with his fist.

Nehemiah had adored his father Benjamin. He tried as much as he could to be like him, to please him, and to follow his example. They had been a lot alike, loving the outdoor life, hunting and farming. Benjamin had encouraged Nehemiah to join the infantry. Nehemiah was proud to be a soldier. He drilled, practiced his skills, maintained his fitness. It took discipline and a sense of purpose, but it gave him great satisfaction. He had imagined that Jacob would follow in his footsteps. But Jacob had no interest in any of the things he loved. Jacob took after his mother Sarah, who could play and sing and dance. It’s one of the things I love so much about her, Nehemiah thought. So why does it make me so angry in Jacob?

If only he could speak to his father again. Benjamin had died earlier in the year, and Nehemiah missed him more than he would admit, even to himself. His father always knew what to do. Nehemiah looked out over the wall again. The waning moon had set in the west. The city below him was quiet, lamps out, fires banked. The remainder of the night would be much darker.

Unexpectedly, the song Jacob had been practicing flooded into his mind.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the LORD
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

In a flash of insight Nehemiah realized Miriam was right and felt a rush of pride and love for Jacob. He could never make Jacob into the simple man Nehemiah could understand. Jacob was complicated; he could play the harp well. His future was not up to Nehemiah, it was up to Jacob himself. Nehemiah sighed deeply, and a wave of tension left his body. He would make it up to them, his wife and his son. He would work at understanding Jacob better, as well as Miriam.

He looked again to the east. Still dark. But the stars twinkled even more brightly in the night sky. Nehemiah began to plan what he would say when he got home.

Prayer...

Lord,
Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.
Amen.

Di Seba

Di Seba

Member of Trinity Lutheran, Nampa ID

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mary Braudrick

    You transported me with your story of personal transformation. Thank you, Di.

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