For good or evil, the image of the eagle is a symbol of strength.
With a furious frown and soaring, effortless flying, and their high nests, and dangling, dangerous talons, eagles have long captured man’s imagination. At least since Roman times, leaders have employed the image of the eagle to symbolize the power of the nation. Hitler, mimicking the Romans, used it and it is the symbol of American freedom.
Sometimes, strength is an elusive thing. Weakness at the moment of opportunity is a frightening experience. When a moment comes for which we have long prepared and we sense weakness in our bones, our minds, or our hearts, it seems that years might be lost in moments of weakness.
The prophet Isaiah saw the weakness and weariness of the people of God.
For generations they had endured what must have been a debilitating roller coaster ride of one strong king followed by several evil kings. The reformer kings tried to renew the spirituality of the people of God, cleansing the countryside of altars and idols and purging the hearts of people with prayer and covenantal worship. It was very much like the slow climb of the roller coaster car to the top of the highest track. Upon that king’s death, a wicked king would take his place and the nation would plunge a breakneck speed into the abyss of idolatry and terrible, destructive evil.
Modern spiritual life can be a bit of a roller coaster, too.
We make new commitments and begin new practices of prayer and Bible reading and we do well for a while, perhaps even a long while. We are slowly but powerfully climbing to the heights of Christian spirituality. But then we miss a day and another and another until we are plunging to the bottom again. We are ashamed to go to the Lord in the agreed upon way so we don’t. Our hearts grow cold and our strength is almost gone.
Deep inside we know there is only one solution—we must, in Isaiah’s words, wait upon the Lord. The word translated wait means more than our verb “to wait.”
qavah (kaw-vaw’); a primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), i.e. collect; (figuratively) to expect: KJV – gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon)
- It means to be still in confident expectation of a certain outcome.
- It also means to serve another person. We use the word this way in reference to waiters and wait staff in restaurants.
What does this say to us?
- To regain our strength so that we can soar like the eagles, we must be patient and fill our hearts with expectant faith in what only God can do. This is not a passive exercise.
- As we wait for the Lord’s answer, we must also wait upon Him by serving Him. Our service to him may be entirely unrelated to the victory we are waiting for, but it all counts! Serving Jesus makes us stronger.
While we are waiting in expectation of something yet to be, we can gain strength by serving God in other ways. As we do, strength returns and soon our restored wings will carry us high, powerful, beautiful, with stamina for the work we have to do.
Isa 40:21-41:1 NKJV
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy one. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Lord Jesus, help me know that waiting on You is an act of faith. It is proactive, not an admission of defeat. Help me wait in hope. Help me know that as I wait in stillness, You are building my strength. I remember Your promise that as I wait on You, Your renew my strength. While I feel there is nothing of the eagle about me, You will cause me to mount up on eagles’ wings to soar on the winds of Your Spirit, strong and steady and secure. I will wait on You, Lord! Amen.
Teach Me, Lord
Words and Music: Stuart Hamblen
1. Teach me, Lord, to wait – down on my knees.
Till in your own good time you’ll answer my pleas.
Teach me not to rely on what others do.
But to wait in prayer for an answer from you.
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,
They shall walk and not faint.
Teach me, Lord, Teach me, Lord, to wait!
2, Teach me, Lord, to wait – while hearts are aflame.
Let me humble my pride and call on your name.
Keep my faith renewed and my eyes on thee.
Let me be on this earth what you want me to be.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved