Beware the Lingering Loiterer

There it sits on my bathroom counter, a pink sticky note with two words scribbled in pencil: No lingering.No Lingering Sticky NoeIt’s been there several weeks like a “No Loitering” sign that warns against aimlessly lurking with nothing to do but find trouble, heading off problems before they stir. That’s what my sticky note is doing for me: coaching me along, keeping me accountable.It’s there because I was spending a lot of time in front of the mirror, dissatisfied. From full-length to magnified and lit up close, I was studying myself; the more I did, the more I found to criticize: wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, gray roots, pooches and pudges, lumps, bumps, and ill-proportioned features. In my loitering, idly wasting time, I gave the devil opportunity to divert my attention from who I am in Christ to who I am in the world’s eyes.Then one day, as I walked past by my vanity mirrors to get something from my closet, I glanced to the side to dissect my reflection, and God unmistakably whispered “No lingering” to my heart. That’s when I grabbed the sticky note, jotted down the words, and walked away.Now, the note reminds me to to be intentional, rather than dawdle, making a deliberate choice to glance for good measure but not inspect for imperfections, to screen not scrutinize.Maybe you don’t struggle with your appearance, but you linger too long on Facebook or Instagram, on the internet, surfing or shopping with no purpose or viewing pornography, in front of the television, at the mall, in toxic friendships or romance novels, or on destructive thoughts or fears. Perhaps you linger with food or other substances that promise to make everything better.Lingering in and of itself isn’t bad; it’s all about where we linger. The very thing on which we linger is that which we attempt to draw our satisfaction. It can be a wellspring of living water that never runs dry, saturating our very souls, or it can be a dry well that constantly leaves us parched, our souls unfulfilled and desperately longing.The more time we linger where God wants us, the less time we linger where He doesn’t. It’s not that we don’t linger at all, we just need to linger in the right place.Proverbs 23:29-32 warns:Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.The Hebrew word for linger  here is ‘achar, which means to delay, hesitate, or remain behind, but not because of hope. Sounds a lot like loitering, doesn’t it?When we linger or loiter before anything the world swirls before us as a substitute for satisfaction in Christ Jesus alone, it sparkles and promises to be the answer, but when we embrace it, it not only sinks its teeth in, but it poisons!The lure is a lie! Conversely, every time we linger with the Lord, when we wait on Him, our hopes and expectations are met in Him (Isaiah 40:31). All His promises are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20). He supplies our every need (Philippians 4:19). We are given everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and we will praise Him yet more and more (Psalms 71:14).To the same degree more time in the mirror gave me more to grumble about, more time in the Lord gives me more to praise Him about!It’s time to post a sign: No loitering.No LoiteringDo it. Literally. Post as many as you need as constant reminders not to aimlessly linger where you have no business and no good reason, up to no good, open to trouble, and ripe for the devil’s picking.Right below it, in your own handwriting, copy the following text based on the principles in Proverbs  23:29-32, filling in the blanks with the enticements you believe the Lord would have you reject, starting today:

Who has trouble? Who is depressed? Who has inner turmoil, difficulties with others, discontentment, and complaints? Who is hurting? Whose physical countenance shows evidence of inside struggles? Those who linger long at the                                          , those who go in search of                                          . Do not look on the                                         when it is enticing you, when it promises you happiness it can’t deliver, when it looks so good to the eye; at the last                                                             bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.

Click here to download loitering in bathDid you know that in some circumstances, loitering is actually against the law? So now it is in my home, too. What about yours? Will we criminally linger where the Lord warns us not to, intentionally ignoring His word, or will we linger in Him, our hope and the help of our countenance (Psalm 42:5, 11)?Lord, please show us anywhere we are aimlessly lingering, inviting trouble into our thought lives, our emotional well-being, our relationships with others, and our relationship with You. Holy Spirit, expose the lies that lure us into the empty pursuit of finding satisfaction in anything but Christ Jesus alone as we become more wholly Yours today.