Monday, June 29, 2015


Image from The Home Life

Have you ever been in this place?

Of course you have, if you're human.

We all get to the place in life's struggles where we feel as if we cannot take another step, make another move, answer another question.

There are times when it may seem as if life has clobbered you relentlessly from every possible direction.

The weariness of the battle seeps down into the very marrow of your bones.
Sleep eludes you, but that is all you want to do--just get some rest.
Food is not appealing, but you eat and then you eat some more.
Your nerves are frazzled, but you haven't the strength to even take a quiet moment to relax.


Why does this happen?

For those who do not know the Lord, that is why.
For those who do know the Lord, refer to the previous statement.

We all, regardless of our personal strength or fortitude, will reach the end of our own ability.

Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz are two Olympians who could swim circles around any of us. Drop us and them into the middle of the ocean, and we would all begin swimming. They would be the last two still alive, but with all their strength and skill, they too would suffer the defeat of weariness and drown.

No human has infinite strength in and of themselves.

When we try to rely on our own strength, we are destined to fail, to fall, to fall apart.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. (Isa. 40:31)
What does it mean to "wait upon the Lord?"

Our modern English usage has two phrases which we no longer use correctly, that mean two different things--"wait on" and "wait for."
  • Wait on ~ act as an attendant to someone--as in waiter or waitress who serves tables
  • Wait for ~ to remain inactive or in a state of repose until something expected happens--as waiting for the bus.
Our common vernacular no longer makes these distinctions as we use "wait on" for both scenarios.

Both of these meanings could be used when trying to apply Isa. 40:31 to our life. We could say that it means to serve the Lord; or, we could say that it means to be patient for God's timing in the situation.

Both are possibilities, but neither are completely correct.

Since most people rely on those two meanings of the word, they are at a loss as to why this verse does not "work" for them when they find themselves beginning to pass out from weariness.

The phrase that is translated "wait upon" means, according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Dictionary, to "bind together" or "to twist."

This meaning carries with it the same idea as
"Prayer is not a spare tire used only for emergency, but a way of life." (click to tweet)
Too often in counseling with folks, I find that "waiting upon the Lord" is just a stop-gap measure that they've come to since nothing else has worked. "I've done everything I know to do, so I'm just waiting on the Lord."

That is certainly commendable, but it will not provide the strength necessary "to mount up with wings as eagles," to run without getting weary, or to walk without fainting.

Those factors are promises to those who "wait upon the Lord," to those who have taken the time to bind together, or become so twisted with the Lord that there is no distinguishing between the two (John 17:21).

The binding and twisting together becomes a way of life and it takes time. It takes time for the results to occur, and it takes time for the practice of waiting.

This "practice of waiting" is much more than the usual concept of "spending time with the Lord," though it does include that.

For most, spending time with the Lord translates to prayer and Bible study, both of which are necessary ingredients to an accomplished spiritual life. However, there is a third--and absolutely crucial--ingredient that is often overlooked, which is illustrated in 1 Kings 19:11-12
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; [but] the LORD [was] not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; [but] the LORD [was] not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; [but] the LORD [was] not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Elijah had to see that God was not in his whirlwind of activity, or his accomplishments for God, but in quietness and solitude.

Did Jesus not give us this same warning in Matt. 7:21-23?

Paul writes in 1 Thess. 4:11 that we are to "study to be quiet."

I've graduated high school, earned a degree in communication from university, and pursued a Master's degree in Special Education. Through all of that, I have had many courses on the various types of communication. However,

I was never offered a course on listening.

Everything in our society is geared toward noise and busyness.

  • multitasking
  • to-do lists
  • get ahead
  • mp3
  • planning
  • you tube
  • videos
  • streaming stocks, news, music, sermons, games, NOISE.
People are rendered absolutely incapable of being left alone with their thoughts for any length of time without going stir crazy.

(I am aware that "study" as used in the KJV means to "be diligent"--not take a course.)

In a prophetic voice, the psalmist writes "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

The word translated "still" in this verse actually means to "cease striving," according to Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Dictionary. The idea is to "stop trying to do it yourself."

It is in stillness that we can know God more intimately than we ever thought possible.

What is your Stillness Quotient? How long can you be completely still--no body parts moving or twitching and your mind completely at rest, not jumping from one thought to the next?

Is that how you envision the Almighty? Restless? Edgy?

I think not.

To become bound together with Him, to be one with Him, to "wait upon the Lord," is to become like Him.

Becoming like Him, one with Him, is the path to the renewable strength promised in Isa. 40:31.

In the next article, you will learn about what the Buddhists call "Monkey Mind" and how that all-too-human trait renders us weaklings at best and fodder for fear at worst.

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