Waiting on the Lord

Isaiah prophesies, “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31) But “wait” in this prophecy is not merely a matter of delay; it is a matter of being changed. For the word here for “to wait” also means “to twist”, as in the weaving together of hemp into a rope or as in the plaiting of hair into braids. The word is just as at home at sea as it is at the coiffure’s. We see therefore that to “wait on the Lord” is not a matter of sitting as one does on a bench for the metro or in an airport terminal. It is a matter of being braided into Himself. So it is accurate to paraphrase this passage this way: “Those who are braided into the Lord shall renew their strength; yes, those who allow the Creator to weave and blend and splice his life into their own shall return to a robust joy rising above all that daunts and exhausts them.” This is what it means to wait on the Lord.

Consider the implication: the Maker of All shares in our successes and sorrows, in our longings and laughter. He works our weakness and sin together for good. He goes through our suffering and sickness–and experiences that strange elongation of time that happens when we are in pain and during which we wish for nothing else but for the end to come soon. Conversely, he shares his holiness, his joy, his light, his power, his love: himself. He makes his home in us. And all moments become sacred at the point of contact and sacred in the memory thereof, for he writes the testimony of his presence into our story. This is why Nehemiah can proclaim to us: “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” and Paul can make the mystery of that Old Testament statement perfectly clear: “Christ in you: he is the hope of glory. By the grace of God we are what we are. Rejoice in him always! Be strong!”

This also means that the Lord redeems all things into that which leads us to awe and delight. Our waiting is not wasted, even the majority of our time, tasks, and energy, the expending of which is, for the most part, offline, off-camera, and noticed only by our heavenly Father who sees in secret and who knows our hearts. For those who look to him, for those who make time and space for him, the blending and the braiding of his Spirit with our own saturates life with purpose, beauty, comfort, and joy. Time now has sacred value. A moment becomes a sacrament. All things become his. And he provides Scriptures as an ever-ready conversation with our Lord while we wait, until we say “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32 ESV) And he is revealed to us on our own Emmaus Road.

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