He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I know this is a popular verse, commonly prescribed for any tired or sick Christian under the age of 35, but the number of times and places it has appeared to me out of nowhere is truly remarkable. E-mails from friends, prophetic prayers over me, sermons at church, a mentor's office filled with eagles based on this verse, the huge painting in my doctor's office for crying out loud. And the number of times we have spotted bald eagles since this all started has been ridiculous.
Well, it would be ridiculous coincidence if I did not have such a close friend in the Holy Spirit. I am skeptical about a lot of things, and there was a time I skepticized his movement in my life. But by now the Spirit has become recognizable, a welcome friend.
Yet each time he shows up, particularly with the promise from my Father for strength when I am physically weak, and for a restoration that would allow me to actually run and soar... well, I am still awed by the fact that God is indeed with me. Alive. Not dormant, but seeing me and moving and urging me to hold on. This story is not over yet.
The command is to hope in the Lord, and our God is so good that he attaches promises to his commands. In this case, the promise of strength and restoration. The very thing I long for.
This is so powerful. So empowering. Not just in an intellectual way, but in a spiritual rising up sort of way. The word of God, unlike any other literature, is active. It literally moves my spirit.
But in some Bible translations, the word hope is translated as wait. The King James Version says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength..."
Shane and I retreated over the weekend to a place of rest, a place where we could put our lives aside for a moment and actively seek the Lord. We need to take extra time for pursuing and seeking God's will in this phase of life, because big decisions loom over us regarding career direction and health care. It was a refreshing time, and God was faithful to answer when we intentionally gave this time to him alone.
The word I heard him clearly say was, "WAIT."
How did I know it was God? Because he emphasized "wait" with repetition.
First, Isaiah 40:29-31 was read in church. Every time this happens now, Shane and I just look at each other, laugh, and say, "Hi Father. Thanks for being here. We're listening." It's like he's sitting right there in the pew with his arm around us.
This time, Shane smiled and specifically asked me, "So, what do you think God is trying to get through to us through this verse?"
I thought about it and said it out loud, "He wants us to wait for him, to encourage us to keep waiting and expect his promise of restored strength in my body."
This Scripture wasn't talked about, just read. But in one of the next worship songs we sang the chorus, "So I wait for you... So I wait for you..." over and over. We laughed again as we sang to him.
After church we went out for lunch at LeAnn Chin. I do not believe in superstition and fortune-telling, but God knows that, and I believe he can redeem anything earthly to interact with his people if he has our hearts. The fortune in my cookie said the Chinese word and the English translation for "Wait."
And then, because we had a gift certificate for Coldstone Creamery, ice cream was our next stop. Sitting at our table, I looked up at a freezer filled with ice cream cakes and the big sign on the freezer door said, "WHY WAIT?"
I looked at it, and I spoke it out loud to my Father: "Because you said so. Because I trust you, and you love me, and you won't let me down. You keep your promise and you will give me strength when I am weak, and I praise you because you do. That's why!!"
Sometimes I think he just wants to stir us up and get us to shout it out, express our faith.
Shane looked at me like I was nuts. Then I pointed to the sign, and he understood.
I love walking with my Father. I love resting in the security of Jesus' love, knowing he's not some dead legendary teacher, but he's alive and with us.
This week may just bring my healing.
Or it may bring trouble, disappointment. But I know who I am waiting for, and he can be trusted.