Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for February 5, 2012: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; and Mark 1:29-39.
“but those who wait for 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.” -Isaiah 41:31
This is one of my favourite texts ever. I love the image of mounting up on wings like eagles. As a kid living in central Alberta, I used to love watching the red-tailed hawks swoop and dive and play in the wind currents that constantly blew across the open prairie. Sometimes they would follow a current so high that they looked like tiny specks of black on an infinite field of blue. I used to lay in the pasture and look up at the clear blue sky and wish I could soar in it like they did. It seemed so effortless, so free, so joyful, so easy.
It’s kind of ironic, then that this single verse, even though I love its image and promise, seems so impossibly difficult to me. Even when I’m totally exhausted, waiting for the Lord is hard. I’m constantly trying to rededicate myself to waiting, to being still, to prayer. However, as I slow down, my mind races, the to-do lists crowd in, the phone rings, the cats demand my attention, a maintenance light pops up on my car dash. Lately even the Dove® message wrappers feel a little bit judgmental about my lack of patience with their well-meaning, “It’s OK to slow down. Love, Dove” Really? I mean, really??
I don’t think I need to tell you how crazy our world is with its 24hr news cycle, its constant connectedness thanks to amazing technologies, its constant demands for our time, passion and dedication, and its unending standards to which we are supposed to conform. And frustratingly, none of those things are, in essence, evil. Not a one (well, except maybe those artificial, impossible “standards”). The problem is how do you wait for the Lord when you are exhausted? How do you wait for the Lord when you can’t ever stop to breathe a moment? How do you wait for the Lord when your self-expectations are so high that you can never let yourself get behind? How do you wait for the Lord when you never stop to see an eagle soar?
I have this funny feeling that you–I–can’t. I have this feeling that we–I–have incredibly short attention spans and that “grasshoppers” aren’t really all that bad a description of us humans (Isaiah’s word, earlier in the passage). I get the uncomfortable sense that no matter how long I learn to actually wait, I’ll never out-wait God: this everlasting God who is the Creator of the ends of the earth. I guess I wonder then, if maybe the point is more about God’s waiting for us rather than us waiting for God. I guess I wonder if maybe the point is not about (to use the image of the eagle) how good my flapping is or how well I hold my wings, but the infinite blue which carries and supports them—and, well me. I guess the point is that what ultimately exhausts us is this continual effort to do and be and what will finally give us rest is knowing that we already are in God.
Picture of Red-tailed Hawk borrowed from Rich Fletcher’s blog: http://hunterlandowner.wordpress.com/