On FaithA few Sundays ago, one of my favorite Scripture passages appeared in our lectionary readings, including this verse from Isaiah 40:31: “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they run and not be weary.”
By: Pastor Susan Berge, Lake County News Chronicle
The waiting game
A few Sundays ago, one of my favorite Scripture passages appeared in our lectionary readings, including this verse from Isaiah 40:31: “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they run and not be weary.”
I was struck in reading through this verse by the vigorous images of what the Lord’s renewal looks like: soaring eagles and sprinting runners. Both of those images are no strangers to those of us who live along the North Shore.
I’ve seen eagles almost daily as I drive along the Expressway this past month, and I never fail to feel that sense of awe: they are magnificent birds.
Most of us have also had an opportunity to witness Grandma’s Marathon, where we have seen those who run without growing weary. I remember the first time I got up to watch the race, I was amazed at the front runners, as they nearly flew past, pounding the pavement with no signs of fatigue.
It’s a liberating experience to watch an eagle soar or a person running full out. It’s also a joyful experience when each of us, in our own way, takes flight or crosses the finish line, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. But, those inspiring moments are not necessarily that frequent, and the verse from Isaiah tips us off about that—-it begins with the recognition that quite often, our lives involve waiting rather than soaring skyward or running across finish lines. Those that wait upon the Lord are those whose strength is renewed.
Waiting makes up a significant portion of most people’s lives through all ages and stages. Children wait to be old enough to stay up later or to get their license; young adults wait to hear which colleges accept them and what kind of financial aid they will be offered; adults wait to meet someone they can love for a lifetime, or for a job opening, or for a baby to come along. Older adults may be waiting for an illness to yield to treatment or for a treasured visit from a family member. Surprisingly often, we find ourselves in a waiting mode.
Unfortunately, waiting puts us at odds with our human nature and our cultural values. Many of us are by nature impatient and oriented towards instant gratification. Certainly our society seems to value speed above nearly all else—faster internet service, fast food, fast cars. Waiting can be merely irritating, as in standing in a line, or truly anxiety producing, as in waiting for a grim medical diagnosis. But, in any case, we don’t like to wait! The passive nature of waiting can make us feel helpless and frustrated.
I’m thinking the factor that makes a difference in our waiting as people of faith is that we wait upon the Lord. We wait with the trust that God is a part of the mix, and that God is active on our behalf in bringing about the needed developments or opportunities at the best intersection of time and place that is possible. Waiting upon the Lord includes prayer, and prayer is always an active posture, not a passive stance. When we wait prayerfully and trustingly, our waiting can take on a different tone: one of expectation and hope, rather than anxiety and irritation. We can trust that our times to soar and to cross finish lines are still ahead for us, one way or another, in God’s hands and in God’s good time.
Pastor Susan serves at Knife River Lutheran Church, and she doesn’t much like to wait. She and her husband, Pastor Phil Berge, live in Duluth.
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