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. –Isaiah 4:31 (KJV)
What does it mean to "wait upon the Lord?" Sometimes when I read that phrase, I think of servants waiting tables in a king's house. I picture myself in a black and white uniform, standing back and watching attentively, waiting for the king to indicate some way that I can serve those at the table. To me, that makes the waiting purposeful, even fun. In that picture, I get to play a small part in the king's important business. I get to be in a fancy place and use beautiful, ornate, precious things. It's rather thrilling—a little like flying with eagles—to think of that kind of "waiting upon the Lord."
Recently, though, I experienced another kind of waiting upon the Lord. It did not start out thrilling at all. I woke up tired and angry. It was a Friday morning after two weeks of non-stop activity. Thursday night, I worked until 9:00 pm, when I finally stopped because I just couldn't do another thing. In the morning, I did not want to get out of bed. So instead of putting on my workout clothes, I reached over to my nightstand to grab my journal and a pen.
My journals hold my deep conversations with God. Like the psalmists in the Bible, I cry out my praise and my laments to God, and wait for Him to answer. Sometimes those answers are immediate. Sometimes not. Sometimes—well, let me give you a peek into what I mean.
Here's some of what I wrote that Friday morning:
"Jesus, I need You. I'm hurting. That ache—it's all over. It feels as if it is swallowing me.
"I'm also angry. I'm angry that I worked until 9:00 last night. I'm angry that I work so hard and make so little. I'm angry that my kids have to live in two houses. I'm angry that my friend followed your lead and is struggling so much. So I guess it comes down to I'm angry that life isn't fair…
"God, this is dangerous. I know it. It's this kind of feeling that precedes disobedience. So God, I'm bringing it to You. I need You to meet me here, because right now, I just don't know if I can be thankful for anything."
And God did meet me there. I felt Him say, I love you, Dawn, and I am here.
"Yes, Lord. You are here. I still hurt…"
My journal went on for several more pages that morning, back and forth, with me pouring out my heart, and God responding. Through the process, I did give Him the anger, which was much better than taking it out on someone else later in the day. Still, the hurt remained. It felt like a sore, empty space within me that needed to be soothed and filled. For that, I had to wait.
My day was filled with work. Normally on Fridays, I have a standing meeting with work associates who encourage one another both personally and professionally. This day, though, I had to miss that meeting for the second week in a row. That was more emptiness. I kept waiting.
I wrapped up my last work activity and headed home for a quick shower and change into evening clothes. I had been asked to speak briefly at a dinner for the ambassadors of the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce. One more thing to do after a long day at the end of two very long weeks. The dinner was across town at a country club, and I was running late. Frankly, if I hadn't promised to speak, I might have stayed home. I was so tired, so spent already.
As I walked from the parking lot, I couldn't help but notice the contrast of the dark night and the brightly lit country club. It was beautiful. Inside the foyer, I smelled the rose bouquet before I saw it. Magnificent!
When I walked into the banquet room, I was greeted by a tableful of my best friends. Every one of them stood up to hug me. With every embrace, my weariness faded.
More friends with hugs and joyful greetings arrived. We sat at formal tables and were served a sumptuous meal by wait staff in black and white uniforms. When I stood up to give my brief remarks, the group laughed at my jokes, and listened attentively. Their warm responses renewed my strength.
Another friend arrived very late, after being led astray by her GPS. She sat at my table, leaned over and said, "I only came because I knew you would be here. I needed to see your smiling face." I was so touched. My heart soared to know that I was so loved and valued.
At the close of the program, the host drew tickets for a door prize. You guessed it—they pulled my number. At that point, my heart was already overflowing. I didn't need any more affirmation of God's loving care for me, but He gave it to me anyway. He's like that.
God didn't fully answer my prayers that morning when I prayed. I had to wait on Him to answer in His way, in His timing. I waited all day on Him. It wasn't easy, but I've lived enough years to know that God can be trusted. At the end of the day, He reversed things on me. Instead of serving in a fancy place, I was one of the people sitting at the table, with servants waiting on me. He renewed my strength, relieved my weariness, and made my heart soar. He was, and is, true to His Word.