It’s such a famous passage: “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 40:31 King James Bible)
I’ve always read it as a call to rest, be quiet, wait… and then the strength will come and I will rise up, run, walk. I’ve always heard it preached that way and never really given it much thought. We all know it, we sing songs based on it, and surely we understand it.
Last night I had an OUCH moment. One of those times when the Word of God hits you in such a way that you wince at the impact of it. It makes you cringe as you reflect the word upon your own life. You squirm at the implications for how you proceed.
I was listening to Pastor Steven Furtick and he turned the verse on it’s head saying that to “wait” doesn’t mean stopping, it means the same thing as a waiter waiting on tables… serving.
“What we call Patience, God often calls Procrastination.” was one soundbite from the sermon.
That hurt. How many times have I “waited on God” before acting? How many times could I have been stepping out in faith, getting on with the job and believing that Gods strength would come, that His wisdom would be known as I too a leap of faith. How many times have I sat on my backside when I could have been seeking God through action.
Now I don’t take such radical shifts in the way the bible is interpreted at face value… so I did some digging into the different translations of this verse to see what they said:
- “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.” (New Living Translation)
- “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wingsand mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Amplified)
- “But those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” (Contemporary English Version)
- “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (New International Version)
Don’t get me wrong, there are times we need to STOP. To wait on God. To refresh and recharge. Even the most enthusiastic and energetic of Christians need to stop sometimes or risk burning out. There are times when God needs to speak to us in the silence and the calm, to ensure He has our full attention and that we aren’t so distracted by DOING that we aren’t LISTENING.
But it’s also been a far too convenient excuse. It’s been so easy to accept that I need to “wait” and not “do”.
I wonder… how much further would I be if I’d mounted up on wings like eagles? if I’d run and trusted that God would provide the strength?
Yes, there’s always grace – but there are also seasons, and I suspect there have been some that I’ve missed because I’ve been sat on my blessed assurance with a holy face on. Hopefully now I might just be a bit more proactive and less procastinatory (is that even a word?!?)