Friday, January 9, 2015
Working in our Waiting
But they who wait (or hope) for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings (or sprout wings) like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31
Was led to this familiar verse last night and couldn't stop thinking about it. It has two themes that my brain has been circling around for a long time.. waiting and eagles.
This post is a bit lengthy.. just a friendly warning.
Last night was a sleepless one, spent with a little girl and a fever. Woke with this verse in my head and just feeling the frailty of sickness.. somehow our health shows me most, how much we are truly not in control of this life (even no matter how many veggies we eat or fermented fish liver oil we take! and yes, we do. everyday.) And more importantly, that we all do live life with an expiration date.
Anyway, back to the eagle and this verse. So, this morning.. a new day, survived the fever and throwing up and while doing morning dishes looking out, a huge bald-headed eagle flies by. You all may be used to that around here, but I don't think this Jersey girl will ever get used to it. They are so magnificent, majestic or some awesome word like that.. and to behold this close amazes me. Same as Mt. Rainier. I won't get used to the awesomeness of it. Ever. The eagle flying by.. I think was God's hand guiding me to his word. So I did a little more study around it Isaiah 40:31 and I am loving what is found.
Last year, I did a study on Psalm 103 and it led me into learning about eagles.. which led me into a deeper understanding of that scripture. Amazed when that happens and LOVE it! So with that study in mind, reading this scripture is even more poignant. (I shared that study at our women's retreat last year and here on fb)
In the scripture above from Isaiah, I love how the translation can be what I added in parenthesis. "Wait for" could also be translated as "Hope in" and "mount up with wings" could be translated as "sprout wings". This goes back to the Psalm 103 study.. Learning about how an older eagle (around age 50) either dies or chooses to go through a difficult transformation where they sprout new feathers and completely regenerate their wings and eyes. It's beautiful how God's creation illustrates His heart for us, effect even our today.. helping our journey with Christ.
So, I want to share more..
This Christmas, I felt alive to Christmas for the 1st time. Not just the merriment and the season, that's nice and all, but to what God intended in it beyond Jesus' birth. Advent season or season of waiting. What He shows us about Himself during advent, during times of waiting. His heart. Learning from John, Mary, the shepherds.. it was beautiful and alive to me this year. His word opening up and illuminating my heart. I've always enjoyed (loved) Christmas but this was the 1st time I felt alive in Christmas. The first advent was Christ's birth and there is much to be learned from those who were in that place of waiting for the Messiah. And now we are in the 2nd advent waiting for Christ to return as He promised, and there is so much to be learned in this time of waiting. I think a prayer I say most is "Come, Lord Jesus, come." Watching Fox news at all brings that prayer on!
But one of the things I loved learning from most this season .. were the shepherds who were "watching their flocks by night". At our women's Christmas tea early in December, I read from Louie Giglio's advent devotional titled "Waiting Here For You". He went into the lives of the shepherds and it was the 1st time I ever thought anything about them! Who these people were, what their job was, why they were there? What we can learn from that most humble part of the Christmas story? I mean anyone is capable of being a shepherd in the Christmas play, right? All you needed was a towel around your head and a stick. It's an extra's part. Not exactly one of the most coveted parts of the story.. (unless you were a guy in drama that really didn't want to participate much or learn any lines). But l see how these people can illustrate a huge lesson in our journey. These shepherds were hired help, which was probably one of the lowest rungs of the town of Bethlehem.. they actually had to live outside the city gates and were unable to even participate in the thing they were working at.. Raising these sheep for sacrifice at the temple, to cover the sins of the people. The shepherds were also considered unclean by law. Their job was to watch the sheep through the night, chasing off predators on what we call the graveyard shift. I think I heard that is was just six miles from where these shepherds were that night to where Jesus took our place on the cross for the sins of the world. How awesome is that? Jesus came to take the place of these sheep.
What I love and can learn from this humble group.. is to be faithful in my "watching" or keeping guard. Be faithful to where God has called and placed me. The tension in our lives is most often that "we are not really where we think or know we should be". If we were "in the place where we should be".. I could serve God. Or more faithfully or better. "Once I get there".. then I can do something worthwhile. I am encouraged by the humble shepherds who received probably one of the most important messages of all time.. God breaking into our dark world, entering our story.. providing a way through Jesus. No better message than that. God is intervening for us. In their mundane, not ever glamourous position.. God chose to speak to them. How amazing?! God chooses to use the things which the world considers low or broken or not of much worth or even the places we consider to be stuck in. Love that. We need to be faithful where God has us, no matter, as if it were "the most perfect place" for us to be. Because it is just that. It's where God has us now. And that is where He will work.. in your waiting. In our obedience of this place. Sanctifying us. It's so easy to get caught up in the grass is greener or one day mentality.. it robs us of what God wants to do in and use us for now. How exciting to think that God will use us and our story in a part of His big story that has been unfolding since time began. I don't know about you but I get blown away by that and I want to jump up and use every day of my life to fulfill His purpose. Because, I know, I do have an expiration date.
So back to the eagles.. and more importantly waiting on the Lord. In our lives, I think the key is to know what is Spirit of God led and what we are doing that is led by our own brokenness. Because if the Bible is true, and I believe it is.. then whatever task that He gives us, or places in front of us.. he will strengthen us in. Just as Isaiah says, "run and not be weary, walk and not faint". I am encouraged in this to not be so concerned about where I think I might run myself down, or not have enough for the task.. if God is leading you, then His promise is true. You will have more than enough, which in our own understanding might seem impossible, He will be more than enough. I am encouraged and I encourage you in this walk to start doing more! Start following what He has put on your heart and trust that His word is true. Don't worry about schedule, boundaries or even worrying about the what-if's when you are being led by the Spirit of God to move. Step out in faith. I see God work this in my life. My well is full when I should be running on empty. He is faithful and His love endures forever