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Waiting for Renewal

    Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

    I have frequently been quoted this verse when I have been ill. In this sense I believe it means to rest the body until well enough to resume normal activities of life.

    There are countless ways in which this verse can be perceived with extremely meaningful insights. I like the challenge of looking at Scripture through a variety of angles, and my current lens shows a different picture to the one I have described above. No one view is wrong or right, but looking at �difference� quite excites me. It is what makes �the Word become flesh� so relevant. God�s word is always new when we allow ourselves the freedom to look at it with fresh eyes.

    The verse begins with �Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength�. Waiting on the Lord is not at all the same as resting in bed to recover from an illness. (God often uses that time however as a vehicle to allow waiting to happen!). Waiting is actually a most active state of being. Most of our lives are spent waiting, if we think about it. We wait for a wedding or we wait for a new baby�s birth, or for that promotion or a new house (saving has always involved long periods of waiting!). When looked at objectively, the very best life can bring usually comes after a protracted waiting period. Delayed gratification causes the Godly response of pleasure and gratitude to well up in us and we appreciate our blessings more.

    Children enjoy waiting in anticipation for Christmas or a birthday. My grandson Daniel is currently counting the days to Christmas (and there are still about 180 days to go!!!). He will find, as we all do, that Christmas will come and go very quickly and he may even feel a bit letdown afterwards because his anticipation has over-estimated the actual day! The point is that Daniel�s next several months will take up far more of his living time than the one day of Christmas! In many ways these months ahead will drag, and all for one day of living! At eight years old this is normal and healthy and I�m sure Daniel will greatly enjoy this Christmas. Hopefully it will be worth his wait!

    The interesting thing is that so many of us who call ourselves adults also live in this time zone. We find waiting frustrating. People say frequently that waiting is �a waste of time�. Waiting, however, is actually where we ARE in every moment. Waiting becomes beautiful once we learn to �be present� in the moment. Living in the present moment brings immense joy. It gives us the perfect opportunity to notice things we have beforehand overlooked. As we wait, or as I like to call it, as we live in the present moment, we may see a bird feeding, a fire flickering over a log, or that tiny ant as it scuttles to and fro upon the pavement. As we do that, no frustration descends! We have no sense whatever of wasting time. Oh no! The opposite occurs. A sense of wonder may descend, or contentment will flow in and that time is in no way lost in the hubbub of life.

    I now deliberately PLAN to wait. I CHOOSE to arrive early for appointments, and I deliberately search out the longest queues at the supermarket!!! I actually enjoy catching a RED light when I�m driving! I can almost hear some folks cringing at the thought! But try it! There is so much more pleasure in the day. While in the long shopping queue I can pray for those about me, perhaps encourage a young mum, or chat with a child. At the red light, I have a chance to relax. I place my hands in my lap, take some long breaths and give myself some positive self-talk or recall scripture�. the list could go on and on. This time is my BEST time!! Not wasted time at all!!! This time is waiting time where I am present in each moment, looking to enjoy it and not endure it! The change of perspective changes life itself.

    Waiting on the Lord, as Isaiah indicates, has enormous value. God as the great I AM is no accident. God IS the present moment. God is EVERY present moment. That is how God is everywhere present, and always available. God is not coming. God has not been. God IS. I am learning to BE, as God encourages us all to BE. We are human BEings, not human DOings!

    Prayer can involve waiting on the Lord, but this is up to us. Prayer at its best, I believe, is where �being in the present moment with God� happens. Meditation, silence, solitude, music, fasting, Scripture reading and prayer all provide an opportunity to be present with God. They are wonderfully precious experiences of encounter with the awesome One � times of worship and communion in their truest sense. This kind of waiting is certainly worth the time spent.

    Often we find that these very things are boring! I believe this is because we are not present with God. Prayer can sink into simply another talk-time where we list all our needs, or rattle off a creed, and no, we are not where God IS. We are already, in our minds, off and away with all the cares of our lives. We achieve very little or nothing if we approach prayer in this way. No wonder we give up! The same can be true for all these other possibilities. Meditation can become think-time, silence becomes worry-time, solitude becomes loneliness, music becomes rhythms or beats bouncing through our head, fasting becomes dieting, Scripture reading becomes obligation � and we have WASTED all of these waiting opportunities!

    So let us all learn the art that Isaiah had learnt. As we live in each moment with God our own sinfulness comes acutely into focus and we become much more fully aware of false motives and bad attitudes, poor belief systems and habitual life-views which are not Godly or helpful. Living in the light of God is rather like allowing a light to shine in our darkest corners. This is necessary because sometimes God is the only one who knows these things. God will show us these things gently but purposefully, and our response of repentance is necessary.

    Gradually, as we dwell with God, repenting and receiving forgiveness we find that our strength IS restored. This is spiritual strength. Active BEING with our Lord then fills our spiritual tanks with all the best and Godly resources we need in life. Our motives will become purer and our attitudes better. Habits change and life becomes fresh and exciting again. We will be filled with joy and love, peace and purpose, power and Christ-likeness. We shall be renewed through all of this and change in all manner of ways.

    This is also an incredibly affirming time. Many of the darker sides of our personality, or aspects of ourselves we do not like may take on a new enriching perspective. We begin to see how our Maker can use these attributes for good. For example, when used in a Godly manner, stubbornness can be harnessed into an indomitable spirit that can hugely assist us.

    We often try to hide many of our experiences of life from others. Our griefs and our trials, our hurts and failures are pushed aside because they may carry with them feelings of shame or guilt, ridicule or fear of misunderstanding. They are like cobwebs that clutter our hearts and minds and we believe them too awful to expose. But on close inspection under the light of Love, we may view them quite differently. Keeping to the cobweb simile, we may see for the first time the beautiful pattern and interweaving of tiny threads in their formation. Intricate details of design are shown clearly, with water droplets glistening from each strand. When we see these hurts in this new way, suddenly we feel free to expose them, to use them and to allow others to see what is held within us, because we can for the first time see how God can use these parts we have hidden under dust, if we but allow him. Dr. Robert Schuller coined the phrase �turn your scars into stars� to describe this process.

    As we live in the present moment with our Lord, we will be renewed, changed, refreshed, and then given a new purpose and direction for our lives. Countless Bible heroes spent years in this time of remaining present with their Lord, waiting for renewal that would eventually bring them the strength to do the will of the One who had called them. When we are not sure what course to follow, God will certainly show is if we wait patiently for the right timing � God�s own perfect timing. In our rushed and busy world, it is extremely difficult to wait on our Master�s directions, because society wants quick decisions and instant answers. But Scripture reminds us to �wait patiently for the Lord to act�.

    Waiting is certainly NOT wasting time! Waiting with God is a growing time! It is a refreshing time! It is a surprising and challenging time! It is a strengthening and direction-altering time. So what are we waiting for? Let�s WAIT on the Lord!!!

    � 2004 Christine M. Jones

    Droplets from Life

    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries