My son went to a sleepover birthday party on Friday. The kids stayed up all night. ALL NIGHT!
Of course, when I picked him up, he was exhausted and grumpy. He wanted to go home and sleep all day. I allowed him to nap for a couple hours but then made him get up.
He was miserable (and so was I). I knew if I let him snooze all day, he wouldn’t rest that night and the cycle of exhaustion and crankiness would continue until he resumed an appropriate schedule.
The sooner things returned to normal the better, so we powered through the long afternoon of frustration and fatigue. He slept soundly last night and had a great day today.
And this afternoon, I had an ah-ha moment from this experience.
An Empty Tank
If you’ve been part of the Making It Real community for the past few months, you know I over did things in the first six months of this year. I took on too many new things involving a steep learning curve. This meant I spent many hours of trial and error (and stress). By May I was running on fumes.
Much like Justin on Saturday morning, I was cranky, had zero patience, and was incapable of clear thinking. Not exactly the ideal place from which to minister to others. That was clearly NOT God’s vision for this ministry.
So, what was my ah-ha moment? Are you ready? It was…
If I want renewed strength with which to minister and function, I need to wait for God. Quit running ahead of him and wait for him to lead me!
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.”—Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV
This summer, I’ve slowed down and intentionally worked to resume a more sustainable approach. The past two months have been much like Justin’s two-hour nap. I’m better than I was in May but not yet totally on track.
They who wait for the Lord…
Waiting, in the sense it is used in this passage, is not sitting around twiddling one’s thumbs expecting God to do everything while we passively do nothing. Rather, we engage the resources provided by God and pursue the course the Lord has revealed thus far while we actively anticipate the outcome the Lord will accomplish.
I waited this summer by diligently studying God’s Word and seeking his guidance through prayer. I continued the tasks related to my family, ministry, friends, church, and community for which I was certain he had called me. Waiting also meant I relinquished the other things that had consumed my energy and focus.
This passage from Isaiah 40 was originally directed to God’s people returning from exile in Babylon. Their lack of dependence upon the Lord led to a time of discipline and distance from their intimate relationship with God. After their time in exile, God prepared the way for his humbled and repentant people to return home. They learned the importance of faithfully following God and not going their own way. They learned the value of waiting upon the Lord.
…shall renew their strength.
Waiting leads to renewal of strength. As I sought God’s will and guidance these past few months, he renewed my strength. He poured his Spirit into me and replenished me. My energy is no longer squandered on projects he never asked me to undertake. This leaves more in the tank to accomplish what he does want me to tackle.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
Eagles are known for their strength and ability to soar to heights other birds can only imagine. Likewise, with renewed strength derived from proper focus, God equips me to rise higher, go farther, and do more than I could possibly achieve on my own.
The results likely won’t be the ones I would choose. The outcome may not even look like the heights of success to the world. But, because it will be God’s desired outcome, it will be far more abundant than all that I could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
They shall run and not be weary…
When we were at the lake earlier this summer, Matt taught Austin how to kneeboard. As soon as Austin made it up he headed out over the wake and promptly crashed. Matt explained to him it would be better to remain behind the wake until he got the hang of it. Our boat would break up the waves created by the other boats and provide a smoother surface—if Austin stayed behind it. He was able to ride much longer when he followed Matt’s advice.
When we follow God’s lead, rather than scoot out from behind him to pursue our own ideas and interests, he smooths our path. He breaks up the obstacles so they don’t swamp us.
Following him still requires effort, but staying within his boundaries protects us and insures we don’t meet up with a challenge for which he has not adequately prepared us. This “staying in God’s wake” approach allows us to accomplish what God wants without the burnout we experience when we stray from his established course.
As we gear back up for the fall, I wait on the Lord to show me where he wants my time and efforts focused this next year. I’m excited to see where he will lead. If you feel faint and weary, I encourage you to wait upon the Lord and let him renew your strength so you can soar to new heights.
Your turn: What has God been teaching you this summer? You can leave a comment by clicking here.