Waiting on the Lord

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.

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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?

About Michelle L.

(Blog Editor) never folds laundry and her car is a mess. She runs through the streets of Salt Lake City, UT, takes lots of photos, plays Uno with her five fabulous boys and buys way too many dresses for the little princess. Her husband is the most romantic man in the world because he does all the Costco shopping AND hauls it into the house (sorry to make you jealous girls). She writes at Scenes from the Wild.

30 thoughts on “Waiting on the Lord

  1. This is beautiful and touching. I need to be better at dedicating myself to the Lord. Like you said, this might just entail remembering the things I do that ARE in His service.

  2. I like the idea of doing what we’re already doing and just taking a moment to dedicate it. Thanks, Michelle.

  3. A turning point for me; I had always interpreted this scripture as waiting for the Lord’s timetable for me, not in terms of me raising the bar of serving Him. THANK YOU.

    I know what each prayer will include before I do things for others. I wish I had had time to read this before I served at the community food bank last night. Nex time!

    Thank you for tutoring me and teaching me a higher level of serving.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this…I always looked at it the way you did, but now I realized I had missed the bigger picture.

    I’m so glad that you have such a sister. What a blessing to you both to have each other.

  5. Thank you for your beautiful words.

    I think we can find God in almost every single task of our day…clearly it’s not possible as a mortal to always see Him, but He is there in the details. I have to come to see eating a banana in a deliberate way, remembering the One from whom all blessings flow, as a way to honor God. Watching my fingers work in some menial task and remembering Who created them and gave them to me fills my heart with love for God. Stopping and pausing and feeling my heart beating helps me ponder the One who gave me life and continues my days on earth.

    I don’t know if this is really what you were thinking of here in this post. I am not sure that it is really waiting on or serving the Lord. But, stepping back and enjoying the everyday miracles has helped my heart to heal from some very real sorrows and pains. I want more of my daily walk to remind me of my dependence on God.

  6. Michelle, so beautiful and so needed. I’m afraid I’m beginning a new hurt just as the last scabs over, and I pretty much loved the Elder Christofferson quote. Refining isn’t a pretty process, and I’m not much looking forward to more heartbreak, but the idea of changing my heart by changing my attitude is helpful. I’ve been used to “waiting” on the Lord…now it’s time to turn my heart to serve Him better and more willingly.

  7. Beautiful. I needed this. My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for nearly six months, and sometimes I become angry with God that he hasn’t allowed me to get pregnant when it seems like everyone I know is either pregnant or just had a baby. But I know that I need to be patient with the Lord’s timing, and that when the time is right, we will have children. Now, if you excuse me, I need to stop whining about not having kids and making the most of life :)

  8. Michelle, I have always loved the imagery of this scripture. The power found in the mounting up…the inexhaustible strength; well, that is humbling protection for those who “wait.” xox

  9. This is the cherry on top of my scripture study today. I’ve been studying the Atonement in more depth and this completes how I’ve been feeling since I put my scriptures away.

  10. Michelle, profound and beautiful thoughts. After struggling for the past couple of years, I think I’m finally starting to taste the relief and comfort that can come as I wait upon the Lord more. I have a long way to go, but I’m trying to be more prayerful throughout the day and make a conscious effort to turn my heart over to the Lord, which has resulted in some subtle shifts in attitude that have lightened my burdens. Going to the temple more often has also helped, as has fasting more than once a month (though I haven’t been doing it every week–maybe I’ll give it a try). And I’m finding that this sanctification process is beginning to taste delicious to me.

  11. MIchelle, this is a stirring post. Thank you, friend. As I read it, I thought of Milton’s “Sonnet on His Blindness”, which also treats this theme so beautifully:

    “. . .God doth not need
    Either man’s work, or his own gifts; who best
    Bear his milde yoke, they serve Him best, his state
    is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
    And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest;
    They also serve who only stand and waite.”

    Being God’s servant implies, at times, standing very, very still and faithfully waiting for His next command. “Oh rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him”, is the lyric from the alto aria in Mendelsohn’s oratorio, the “Elijiah.” That whole idea is mind-blowing as well as spirit-expanding and, for me, heart-stilling, especially when I couple it with your (strong) closing line:

    “He simply asks that I come to the table.”

    Amen! We come, literally, to that table every week. And there, offering up our broken selves, we find His broken flesh and spilled blood long since there, waiting patiently for us.

    Servants, yes. Yet unprofitable again and again and always.

  12. YES! i needed to think on this this week. WE’ve been focusing on service to each other in our family as a form of service to God, and our daily work as a form of worship. Truly this goes along with where my mind and heart were learning and needing to learn at the time as well

    Sushi Snob- From someone who has been there, now looking back three kids later, I remember that pain and sorrow of being told by doctors that we might forever be childness. I have you in my thoughts today, and bear testimony that it truly is HOW you wait- condemning, angry, bitter, hating, impatient, / or filled in His light, thankful for the journey given, serving where and when needed, and continuing in the god paths you have begun, in gratitude for the chacne to walk another day- that changes the person you are, no matter how long the wait. It’s a lot easier to wait for something when there’s a time limit or timeline… any moment past that mortally set “limit” seems to increase exponentially. What wisdom you have to realize that this serving is what fills the blanks and makes them beauty.

  13. Brilliant. This is so insightful. Beautiful piece, and I think it’s applicable in so many situations. Thank you!

  14. I wait on the Lord patiently, by doing what’s asked of me and trying to be in “tune.”

    LOVED this. So much wisdom.
    Thank you so very much for sharing.

  15. I like my sister too. :)

    Thank you for your kind comments. And Sushi Snob– waiting for a baby is one of the most agonizing kinds of waiting. Much love to you.

  16. This was a brand-new perspective on this scripture for me. I’ve been pondering it for a day now, and it really sheds a new light on what the Lord expects from me. Thanks for sharing this!

  17. Thank you Michelle and Ruth! Honestly, I couldn’t adore two people more and be so grateful for the things they have said and have written that have honestly changed me.

    I really needed to read this today. The reason is too long and doesn’t even need to be shared right now, but I’m just so grateful. Thanks to both of you.

  18. Michelle, thank you for this insightful and exquisite post. Waiting on the Lord can be very difficult, yet as we trust in Him completely and accept His will in our lives, we can find peace amid sorrow.

    I have many friends who inspire me with their courage and patience in waiting on the Lord: Beth, paralyzed after the birth of her second child, endures suffering with grace; Suzanne, never married and elderly, loves children and has adopted my grandchildren; my mother, who experienced great physical pain throughout her life, served others with kindness and empathy.

    When we wait upon the Lord, we may not be able to run or walk physically, but we can fly on the spiritual wings of joy and peace.

  19. Michelle, I’m still chewing on this. I think it’s permanently changing my thoughts around that scripture, which was already a favorite.

    Here’s my question: what if I just barely have energy to keep doing what I do (and sometimes not even that), and not enough to remember that I’m waiting on the Lord? Sometimes I still feel His grace upon me powerfully and reassuringly, but many, many days lately I just get through the day. I would so love to feel that grace every day.

  20. p.s. I know it’s pretty unrealistic to expect a strong, intimate connection with heaven every day. I just mean a little glimmer. The waiting you write about seems like it could offer that glimmer, if only I could find the energy for it.

  21. Michelle – These truths are even more beautiful and tangible typed out here vs. expressed on our morning run. Your sister is so wise. And you said it so very well. I re-read DC 98 after our discussion. I will never think about “waiting” the same. I love you.

  22. I love Ruth’s take on this beloved verse, and how she shared it with you in this timely manner. It brought to mind the words of our baptismal covenants as well as the sacramental prayer…waiting on the Lord is another way of remembering Him in all that we do. Keeping Him with us always, so that we can always have His spirit with us. I think this is a way that we can do that, and do it better. Thanks to both of you dear women for inspiring this thought in me today…I have been mulling over it ever since I read this yesterday! ♥

  23. This is such important stuff you write of! Learning to change our hearts and truly hear the word of God. It means much to have you share your life learnings with us.

    Last Sunday I attended the broadcast Eastern seaboard Stake Conference. I learned something similar from something Elder Russell M. Nelson said (at least I think it was from his talk). He was speaking of consecration and sanctification. He said something to the effect that when we give our experiences to the Lord, no matter how difficult or foolish, (!) He can sanctify us through them. (If someone else heard the talk and took better notes please expound).

    The word foolish caught my attention. I’ve struggled with a relationship and see how it keeps me from progressing and think it’s time I allow the Lord to sanctify it, so I want to consecrate it to Him. Your idea of how to “wait on” the Lord contributes to my sense of how I can consecrate my past experience to the Lord and let Him change my heart about its foolishness.

    Blessings to you, Michelle!

  24. Sage, thanks for helping me start answering my question (comment #26). In place of foolish, right now in my life I’d say “no matter how weary.” Maybe I *can* offer what little I have.

    Thanks again, Michelle, for your beautiful words that are changing how I think about “waiting on the Lord.”

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