In a rare moment – how I hope they will become more regular! – I’ve managed to sit down for some time with God this morning. A very sleepy boy, who cried a lot last night, went down for a nap at 7:00 so here I sit. I’m reading Paul Miller’s A Praying Life right now, memorizing Proverbs 31 and Psalm 33, and am still so distracted and irregular that the best I do for any Bible reading is to pick random passages these days. Today it was Isaiah 40.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is he everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for 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.
I’ve loved this passage since I memorized it during my junior year of college when I was particularly exhausted, both physically and emotionally. I felt like I was strength training and had done one too many reps and just couldn’t do more but then there I was, and God was still asking me to do more. And more.
Last night I was exhausted when Mike & I finally sat down on the couch for devotions together. Dishes done from company, a busy, busy, busy day under my belt with never a moment to sit unless I was feeding Jacob. In fact, I fell asleep behind the wheel at 9:00 a.m. when I was coming home from dropping my sister off at the airport. It couldn’t have been more than a second or two, but it was enough that I suddenly realized I was in the lane of oncoming traffic. And there was oncoming traffic. Let’s just say I was good and awake after that. Not a happy memory.
Mike thought I was discouraged last night. It wasn’t so much discouragement as sheer physical exhaustion. I was plenty happy, surrounded by a beautiful clean house, loved by my husband and, in his own way, by my son. I expressed my concern to Mike that, as much as I am enjoying life and seeking to live it fully and joyfully and intentionally and courageously – to choose to be who I want to be instead of letting life just happen to me – yet with this kind of a pace, as I look forward through this season of having young children in our family and all the sleepless nights that will entail, I fear that by the end of these years I’ll just be so physically exhausted that I’ll feel discouraged all the time. I don’t want to feel, all the time, like I felt last night. No thank you.
And then I read Isaiah 40 this morning and remember once again that we walk by faith in God’s Word and not by sight. I believe God’s Word. It says that waiting for the Lord is the key, and that those who do it WILL not be weary and WILL not faint. It’s the language of promise, if ever there was. So no matter how tired I am at any moment, my obedience is to wait. To wait on Him in his Word, in His temple, in all the moments of mundane work He asks of me every day, to wait knowing it’s all He asks of me and in return He’ll give me strength.
Waiting is a very “now” endeavor. I’m one who likes to think ahead. I fantasize all day about where each piece of our hodge-podge furniture collection will go in our new home. Planning a week’s meals and groceries is the mode I like to live in: All this order and organization spreading across my view. Mike has to be my reality check often: I worry about how things will be THEN. Whether we’ll still have a good marriage THEN. Whether we’ll make good choices THEN. He says the only thing I can do about it is attain those things NOW.
To wait, I think, is to live well in the now. Sure, it includes anticipation, but not so much that it distracts you from the reality of this moment. How does it look for me to wait? It looks like showering my nerve-rattled son with smiles and love and calm happiness when I go to him at 6:00 a.m., my appointed morning feeding time. It looks like singing the hymns pasted above my kitchen sink while I clean the house in the morning. It looks like living in each moment for each moment and using it fully. It looks like “waiting on the Lord” in His house each Lord’s Day, expectant for His blessing that will equip me for a new week. It looks like choosing to seize the moments today, in this well-used, cramped apartment, making it clean, beautiful, and organized, instead of sitting amidst its worn chaos daydreaming about the next season.
So here I am, 8:00 a.m. on a new, beautiful day, thankful that for once cleaning the house wasn’t the first thing I had to do upon waking. Maybe waiting has a lot to do with preparation, too. Instead of watching the clock you prepare for it. Preparing for today meant doing the dishes last night, tired though I was. So when today came, I came into it with peace and fresh strength.
One more thought on Isaiah 40: We love those last few verses about the everlasting God who doesn’t grow weary and gives us his strength so we can be like eagles. Yes, yes, yes. But right before that is a bit of a rebuke, and that’s the part that jumped out at me two years ago when I had resolved to purge my life of all the complaining that was dragging me down and slowing me down like so much sludge. “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God’?” It seems Isaiah is rebuking Israel for complaining against the difficulty and for doubting God’s goodness and justice, whining against the unfairness of it all.
I think tired Christian women whine like that a lot: “My way is hidden from the Lord and my right is disregarded by my God and wow! could I use a little sleep and alone time and maybe a manicure too. And please tell me it won’t always be this way.” The solution is to stop the complaining and the doubt and start the waiting and the preparation and the anticipation. The solution is Wednesday Grace: just enough grace and flour and oil for This Day. God promises to give strength to those in a waiting posture, and we need to believe His Word.