Eagle statue - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Waiting: basic training in disguise

When you get run down and weary, what do you do to fix it? Me? I try to accomplish more. I know that sounds backwards, but I’m a performance driven person. When I’m feeling discouraged about something, I load myself down with more tasks that I can finish. And then, when I finish them, I feel better about myself.

But even though I feel better about myself internally, I’m more run down than before. So how do you renew your strength when you have nothing left? Is strength like a battery charger on a cell phone? Can you just plug it in and charge it up? Or do you have to do something?

Eagle statue - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Eagle statue – Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Isaiah 40:31.But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

I think it’s a beautiful irony that if we want new strength, we have to trust God for it.  And that word trust there doesn’t actually mean just trusting God. Actually, it means waiting on God.

Here is the same verse in the Amplified Version:

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

If you want renewed strength (and power) you have to wait for it. You have to expect that God will give it to you.

And that’s where I struggle. If you have spent any amount of time reading this blog, you know I hate waiting. I can’t stand it. I’m fairly patient when it comes to dealing with other people, but when it comes to waiting on something God is doing in my life I want it right away.

But waiting is good for us if we do it right. Waiting can be a time of refreshment and reconnection with God. It can be a time when we slow down and reevaluate where we are in our walk with God. It can be a time of restoration.

Or, if you’re like me, it can be a time when you load yourself down to the max and wonder why you can’t sleep.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t be busy while you’re waiting. If you have time to serve God while you’re waiting for Him to answer your prayer or to give you the strength you need to do what He’s called you to do, you should do it. But don’t get your eyes off the target.

If God has called you to something specific (and He has), He will prepare you to handle it and He’ll walk you through it when just being prepared isn’t enough. But you have to be ready before He’ll let you go. That’s what waiting is about.

If you can wait and keep your eye on the target and not lose your passion for what God has called you to, you will learn so much about yourself and about who God is and about what God wants from you even during the times when you think God’s not doing anything in your life.

God will renew our strength as we wait for Him. He will prepare us for what is coming. He will equip us for service in a way we don’t understand. But we have to slow down long enough for Him to work.

Accomplish more by doing nothing?

Do you ever get to feeling tired and worn out? Like the task you’re trying to accomplish is so far beyond you that there’s no way you’ll ever complete it?

I’m having a good week since I came back from that writing workshop so I actually haven’t been dealing with this recently, but I’m human and I know that the time will return (probably shortly) that I look at the time I have available to me and I will compare it to everything that I need to get done and I will start freaking out. So when I read the verse this morning, I thought maybe I should get myself ready for the next time I feel overwhelmed. Because when I start looking at everything that people are expecting me to do, I can start feeling pretty rundown. And the longer and harder I work, it never seems like I actually accomplish anything.

Do you ever feel like you’re on a treadmill your entire life? Like you’re expending a great deal of energy but you never get anywhere?

Well that’s what trying to live in your own strength is like. You wear yourself out and even though you might accomplish bits and pieces of your task, you don’t ever make any real progress.

If you’ve ever experienced that, the verse this morning is for you.

Isaiah 40:31

 31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
      They will soar high on wings like eagles.
   They will run and not grow weary.
      They will walk and not faint.

Yes, indeed. One of the most quoted verses in the Old Testament. This one appears on plaques we hang on our walls and cups we drink our coffee out of. But do we ever really let it sink in what it means? This verse is one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith.

Maybe that would be a little clearer using the Amplified Bible:

31But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired. 

When you read that, do you get the same thing I do? To me, this verse says that if you want to gain new strength to face your challenges in life and if you want to accomplish great things for God, you have to wait for Him.

Does that make sense to anybody? Because it doesn’t make sense at all if we’re trying to be rational about this. The Bible is saying that we will accomplish bigger and better things and more of them if we sit around waiting? One school of thought might understand that sitting and waiting will help with the tired and worn out feeling, but personally I find waiting to be exhausting. So it’s not restful for me to sit and wait. I wear myself out.

How can we accomplish more by doing nothing?

I guess the first answer is that doing nothing and waiting are two completely separate issues, especially when you wait the way the Amplified Bible suggests (expectantly looking for God to do something).

The second answer . . . well, if we rush forward and get ahead of God, we’ll be on our own. We’ll be trying to force events to turn in our favor without God’s backing. If we can just be patient and wait for His timing, all we have to do is just be in the right place at the right time and He’ll do all the work for us.

Sound too good to be true? Well, it is true. And if you’ve ever tried waiting on God, you’ll know that it’s harder than it sounds. I hate waiting. There are so many things I want to do . . . and these things are even for God! They’re not for me. But no matter who I want to accomplish these tasks for, I can’t just rush off and do them myself. They’re too big for me. I mean, I could try to do it on my own, but I’m not smart enough . . . or fast enough . . . or experienced enough . . . So I need God’s help, but He’s not going to open a door for me until He’s ready — until He can fit the dreams He’s given me into His plans.

That means I have to trust Him. Because when I trust Him, I get my eyes off myself and my timetable and my goals and I hang everything on Him. And when I’m no longer relying on myself, I am free to lean on Him completely. And that’s when stuff starts happening. That’s when I get stronger. That’s when my goals seem to start accomplishing themselves.

Part of the paradox of true Christianity is that if you want to accomplish great things for God, you have to stop gumming up the works and get out of the way. God’s going to do what He wants to do no matter what. But if you want a part of it, you’ve got to be willing to do what He tells you, even if what He tells you to do is to wait.