I'm in waiting mode. We're in transition. And I'm here to tell you that waiting is HARD.
Isaiah 40:11 says that those who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles; they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint. We all love that verse because of its beautiful imagery. We hang it on our walls with a picture of a bald eagle soaring over tall pines. We also love it for another reason: Who doesn't want a life in which we can run and not become weary, or walk miles and miles—as long as we want, as long as we need to, through whatever rugged terrain life throws at us—without becoming faint and fatigued? I certainly do!
I don't know about you, but when I'm in waiting mode, my typical experience has not been to feel like a soaring eagle. Out in the Pacific Northwest, seeing bald eagles is not an unusual occurrence. We live on the edge of the Olympic National Forest, a beautiful place. When people come to visit us, we like to take them on one of two trails nearby, down to the river or up to the waterfalls. But one time a young couple was visiting us, and instead of taking a trail, we just headed over the hills through the woods behind our house, eventually making our way down to the idyllic Duckabush River. On our way back we inadvertently took a different route and came upon a small lumber mill out in the middle of the forest. Behind it was a really nice cabin/guest house, but no one was there. A dirt road dead-ended there so we followed it since we were all a bit weary of bushwhacking our way through underbrush. We figured it had to lead out to the road at some point. The dirt road turned into a paved driveway that led to the most beautiful home situated on a bluff high above the river. The folks inside saw us walking up their driveway and came out. They said they usually don't see people coming from that direction up their drive! As we visited, an eagle came soaring up the winding path of the river, high above us. So effortless, so beautiful, so picturesque.
"Those who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles." What descriptions come to mind? Freedom. Ease. Joy. Anxiety-free. Peace.
When we lived in the Philippines, there were more than a few tense moments. Relational difficulties along with extreme political unrest created an unsettling, agitated environment. There were days when I wondered if I would snap. Then I would remember where God dwells. I would take my heart and my mind up to that heavenly throne room and breathe deeply of the peace and tranquility there. God would remind me that where He is all is peace. He was still in total control; all the chaos of earth had not given Him an anxious heart. A poetic line would come to mind: "God is in His heaven and all's right with the world"—even when a presidential candidate was assassinated; even when we thought we might have to flee the country with our three little ones but had no plan, no connections; even when grievous misunderstandings plagued relationships. Yes, even then.
In the belly of the great fish (could life get more scary or agitated than that?!), Jonah said, "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord." And David said in the Psalms, "I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Another psalmist said, "My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Paul said, "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed . . . that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body." We aren't alone in the press and crush of life's circumstances. The Bible "greats" have felt the same, expressed the same feelings we go through; and they endured, setting an example for us, leaving behind their legacy and their honest wrestlings.
When an eagle glides high over white-water rapids, his flight above does not calm the tumultuous churning of the river below—perhaps our expectations from that verse have been misplaced. The river doesn't instantly become placid at the sight of the eagle. No, the river roils and foments below, crashing through narrow gorges and rushing over rocks, but the eagle soars above it all, taking it all in, part of the scene, yet lifted on the currents of the wind. This is life in the Spirit. Our lives are the swirling, white-water river. He is the wind. Spread the wings of your heart and let Him lift you above. Trust Him. Rest on the currents of His love and wisdom and sovereign control. He's got this!
So I remind myself day by day, moment by moment in waiting prayer. When unsettled anxiety plagues my soul with so many uncertainties, I close my eyes and picture that eagle. And you know what? I'm able to keep running, to keep walking forward! It's a miracle.
What descriptions come to your mind when you think of a soaring eagle?