Teasing, my husband called it graffiti from a religious fanatic. But I loved the scripture painted over my kitchen table:
“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
How many times have I read that verse? Hundreds? Thousands? Yet I didn’t understand it until talking with my sister. In an effort to heal from a mighty hurt we suffered, she has been fasting every Sunday since last December. “Nothing has helped me more than my weekly fast,” she offered, “it is my very physical way of waiting on the Lord.”
“But God’s timetable is always so long,” I complained, “how many Sundays can you fast?”
“I’m not talking about how long I wait on the Lord, ” she answered, “but how.”
Sensing my confusion, she explained: “Imagine dining at a gorgeous fancy restaurant– one attendant pulls out your chair, another tops off your water glass, a third whisks away any crumb that falls to the table. I am trying to wait on the Lord like that and my payment is feeling the Love of God in my life. Nothing external has changed, but as I put forth every effort to serve Heavenly Father I draw closer to Him and my heart is healing.”
She then began to quote the above verse from Isaiah, and I listened with a new understanding, “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.”
“You don’t need to add anything to your to-do list,” she admonished me, “just take the things you are already doing– caring for your children, scripture reading, working with the Young Women– and take a moment to say, ‘Lord, this is for thee.’ Consecrate your actions to God and you will feel Him in your life.”
Because I always listen to my sister (and wouldn’t you?), I immediately tested her words. I turned my broken heart towards God. I allowed myself to notice the dozens of things I do every day–even when I don’t feel His presence– in my Heavenly Father’s service. And with that shift in attitude I began to feel a whisper, a dewdrop of God’s love. A talk by Elder Christofferson came to my mind: “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten.” The entire talk is worth studying, but this passage nudged my heart:
“Sadly, much of modern Christianity does not acknowledge that God makes any real demands on those who believe in Him, seeing Him rather as a butler “who meets their needs when summoned” or a therapist whose role is to help people “feel good about themselves.” It is a religious outlook that “makes no pretense at changing lives.” “By contrast,” as one author declares, “the God portrayed in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures asks, not just for commitment, but for our very lives. The God of the Bible traffics in life and death, not niceness, and calls for sacrificial love, not benign whatever-ism.”
I’m afraid I had been expecting God to act like a butler or a therapist: “meet my needs!” “tell me I’m a good person!” Like a petulant child, I refuse to talk to Him when things aren’t going my way. And in doing so, I hurt myself even more– pulling away from my source of strength.
One of the best examples in my life of waiting upon the Lord is my friend Kit. For seven years she wanted a baby. And during those years she cried and complained and ached, but she also attended the temple, accepted callings that I thought would be agonizing for someone struggling with infertility (Nursery Leader, Sumbeam Teacher), fed the missionaries weekly and served God in every way possible. She was never just waiting, she was waiting on the Lord. After eight years, she delivered a gorgeous ten pound baby girl. Five years later– she is a mother of four and is serving and worshipping God in an entirely different (and exhausting) way.
Another extraordinary example is our friend Blue. A childhood of abuse and neglect weighed on her despite every effort to forgive and move on. But by applying the principles of the gospel– by waiting upon the Lord through prayer– she was healed. I highly recommend reading about it here.
Our Lord isn’t vain, He doesn’t ask that we worship Him or serve Him to assuage His ego. He asks these things because it is only by serving and worshipping God that we can draw close to Him. The Lord wants to heal my heart– He simply asks that I come to the table.
How do you wait on the Lord?
How does serving the Lord heal us?
Have you had a favorite scripture reinterpreted for you?