“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Recall the childhood game of “Hide and Seek.” I expect many of us have memories of how we played that simple game. In the one I remember, one person would volunteer to be “it” (the seeker) and everyone else would go hide, hoping to find a place that was so concealed that the seeker would not find her, but was close to the base that once the seeker got far enough away, she could run home free and be one of the winners in the game.
There were notable times of waiting in that game. The seeker had to wait for the hiders to hide (“Count to 40,” as I recall, and then yell out, “Ready or not, here I come.”) The best seekers were those who could count the fastest, for they could catch the slow hiders before they had time to find a good hiding place. Waiting went fast for them. The best hiders might find a hiding place so good that the seeker took a long time to find them—they might begin to wonder if they would ever be found. Waiting took a loooong… time for them!
In the past year we have become very familiar with waiting. First, after the initial shock of the pandemic had passed, it was waiting to see what we were in for. Then it was waiting through the various stages of “reopening.” Then came more restrictions as the number of cases rose again. Then it was waiting for the vaccines to arrive. Now we are (many of us) waiting for the time when we will be able to be vaccinated…and hopefully get back to a “normal life again.” Through it all we have been waiting to once again hug our family and friends and gather with each other in our communities of faith to worship and proclaim God’s promises. We all can add our dozens more of experiences of waiting for which COVID-19 has made us more aware.
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.” Perhaps you and I often see our daily experiences of waiting as thwarting us from living as we should be living or doing what we want to be doing. But I wonder if these experiences could also be turned into experiences of waiting for the Lord.
This waiting has to do with letting ourselves trust God’s promises of love and a life of wholeness and neighborliness to a degree much deeper than we have ever known before. It is letting ourselves fall into the all-encompassing arms of God who will care for us with a kind of caring that we have not yet experienced in our lives. It is captured in such hymns as “Thy Holy Wings” and “On Eagles Wings.” It is knowing that when there is no one else to give us comfort—sometimes even the ones we love and who also love us—God does provide the comfort!
Then comes the surprise! As Isaiah says, we will be lifted up as “on eagles wings” and receive the kind of strength and energy that only increases as we let go and let God comfort us. Sometimes the comfort comes in words spoken or sung as in poetry, music, or song or another of the arts that open God’s love to us.
I confess that not every day do I remember this promise or receive this comfort—that I truly believe is ALWAYS there for us—but when I let down my guard or open my life to its possibility, it is truly surprising and life giving.
May you today venture forth and find a few moments or more to “wait for the Lord” and discover the surprise that comes with renewal of your strength and your life lifted up as on eagles’ wings!
Gracious God who waits on us to wait for you, open our hearts and lives to receive your love and care. Give us today whatever we need to be lifted as on eagles wings so that we may run and not be weary and walk and not faint. Make us aware of those around us who need a kind word of encouragement or an act of caring and love as Jesus showed us. AMEN