Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on 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.
Among all the spiritual disciplines we know, Prayer is one of the most practiced, most misunderstood and often abused. Rarely do we approach prayer with excitement and enthusiasm. We often pray because we feel it is the right thing to do, it is the “Christian Duty” thing to do. We feel guilty if we slack off in prayer. But how many of us truly believe that prayers are 100% effective? If yes, then how come so many of us live defeated lives. Instead of thriving, we are merely surviving from one crisis to another.
It seems like every night before we sleep, we take off our coat full of worries, fears, anxieties and whatnots and lift them all to the Lord in prayer, some of us even put it back on as we sleep, while most of us put the same coat back on every morning. Carrying loads we were not meant to carry. No wonder we feel tired and defeated all the time.
We all know that God answers our prayers with Yes, No or Wait. It’s great when God answers our prayers with “Yes” because we obviously got what we want. We feel unhappy and even angry when the answer we get is “No”, for some of us, we accept it with reluctance because, at least, the answer does give us some semblance of closure. But what if God wants us to wait? This is where many of us have the most difficulty. Waiting is probably one of the hardest things to do. It seems like we are living in a state of suspension and can’t move neither forward nor backward.
Let’s look at the life of Abraham. God approached Abraham quite late in life. He was around 70 when he was first called to depart UR, then He was already 75 yrs. old, settled and prospering in Haran when God asked him to leave and made a covenant with him. He then reached Canaan but moved again due to the drought there and went to Egypt and Negev. After 10 years of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled, he and Sarai got impatient and decided that maybe they can help God fulfill His promise to them. As directed by his wife, he took her servant Hagar as a concubine and had a son Ishmael. The consequence of this act of disobedience can still be felt today in the Arab-Jew situation.
Many times in our lives, we start of in our prayer with a positive and hopeful attitude but when it seems like God is slow to answer or we are forced to wait, then we get rattled. During the time of waiting, we become impatient and we feel that we need to help God or that maybe God somehow forgot all about us. Just like Abraham when God led him to Canaan, we are often unhappy with what we have or where we are and we move away from God’s designated place for us. We feel we could do much better than that. The problem is letting go. We can’t seem to surrender the control of our lives completely to the Lord because losing control is what we fear the most. We want to be the one who dictate our own destiny. We feel a great sense of achievement when we do things our way and see some results. So we go from one solution to another, trying everything to see what works and finding out that none of them really offer a permanent solution simply because it isn’t God’s time yet. This leaves us very depressed and frustrated.
It is in this waiting stage that most of us are stuck. Our spiritual life is like a helium-filled balloon. Helium –filled balloons were meant to fly , but it can only fly when it is not weighted down. We do grow and we do see some maturity but it seems like we can’t go any higher. Life seems to be weighting us down. Despite God proving Himself time and again, we can’t see past our problems. We forgot who our God is; That He is the Almighty Creator of all things!
This week in our church’s Reset (Prayer and Fasting week) daily devotion booklet, we have been learning all about stillness, and how to quiet ourselves before the Lord. We find this experience strange and a bit unnerving. Often times I would turn on the TV or radio or my music player even though I am not really watching TV and listening to it. I simply want some background white noise because I find the silence a bit unbearable. That’s how we approach life also, we often allow the noise of the world, the scream of our fears, the murmur of our worries to drown out God’s still small voice. No wonder we run around like a headless chicken with no clear direction in our spiritual life. It’s not that God isn’t speaking. It’s a matter of our heart not hearing properly because of all the noise. Moments of waiting are moments of quietness for us. It is at this stage that we need to let go and truly let God. Giving up control to the Lord isn’t really losing control. It is ceding control of our lives to the One who knows everything from the beginning to the end, who knows what is best and will always have our best interest in mind.
After the Hagar/Ishmael incident, Abraham waited quietly and patiently for another 15 years before he finally saw God’s promise fulfilled. God used all these years of waiting to teach Abraham a valuable lesson- He is the God of the impossible. When it was humanly/biologically impossible already for Abraham and Sarah to have children, God gave them Isaac.
Abraham learned a valuable lesson, one that he applied in his life as seen when Isaac was about 15 years old. God directed Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. I am sure Abraham’s heart was bleeding, and being a father myself, I can imagine how he must have felt but yet the Bible said his response was immediate obedience. This is the faith of the Ancients that Hebrews 11 was telling us all about, the testimonies that speak beyond death. Faith is indeed doing what God tells us to do.
It is only by surrendering, and letting go that we allow our faith to grow as we wait on the Lord. Waiting doesn’t mean we stop living, it means we cease all self-directed activities and start doing God-directed activities. Letting go and giving God control means an active decision on our part to start obeying and submitting to the authority of the Lord in our lives.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on 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.
Let us learn together the freedom of letting go and letting God. Let us learn that by faith when we surrender to God, we will take wings and soar like eagles. Seasons of waiting will become seasons of thriving instead of seasons of merely surviving.
Waiting on the Lord doesn’t mean we stop living, it means we cease all self-directed activities and start doing God-directed activities.