With Wings Like Eagles

This weekend, over a hundred people are gathering from Central Illinois to run a charity half marathon to benefit families living in poverty in Central America. It’s been a really neat journey, from the spring when everyone signed up, learning about the communities we would be supporting… to then training through the warm and humid summer months, and now getting ready to toe the start line.  We will run the 13.1 mile victory lap of all the miles already run. The work is done. They hay is in the barn. The runners have done the hard training, and race day is the icing on the cake.

When I visualize running a successful race, it always comes with this image of leaping, and bounding, and flying – literally flying like an eagle. Isaiah 40:31 says we will mount up with wings like eagles, run and not grow weary!

When I thought about today’s journal entry post of Isaiah  – of course I was going to share the parallels of this run supporting Central Americans and our strength from God. As I was packing and prepping for the race weekend, there were several things that came to mind and I was looking forward to putting pen to paper.

Right in the middle of all of this – I received some really awful news. One of our runners has a serious health condition that came on and definitely can’t join us. Our entire team is amazing…  but this runner is also SO INSPIRING. She is new to distance running, and this would be her first half. The runs didn’t always come easy to her. And yet she continued to focus on the bigger mission, fundraised to help others, and week after week, she logged her workouts, coming back for more even when she wasn’t loving it. When it got hard, she showed up. She has encouraged and led others this summer, and I had no doubts she would cross that finish line – and I couldn’t wait to witness it.

I wish I knew why this isn’t her weekend, why this has happened. And why now? I wanted her to wrap up her summer with a big bow – that finish line ribbon! Having made this hard decision myself two years ago for a race I had to pull out of, I know she’s feeling sad, hurt, and discouraged. And it’s kinda lonely when everyone you’ve been planning and prepping with is moving forward and you’re not.

When I go back to our scripture – it’s that first part of this passage that I struggle with… you know, the WAITING.

For they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.They will mount up with wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.

Have you had situations where you had the wisdom to make the hard decision to wait? Or, if you’re like me, sometimes you don’t wait, you keep pushing forward, and God has a way of forcing the waiting!! I can think of a few of those… and God knew that more time was needed.

Do you believe in the strengthening power of the Lord, that comes in the timing of waiting? Yielding? Listening? Being still?

Or do you view the waiting as a waste of time… unnecessary, or uncomfortable even?

Will you join me in praying for my friend that wisely made the hard decision to wait, that she will feel God’s comfort and strength in the process.

So why do you think God call us to wait? What has happened during your seasons of waiting?

From big things to little things, from waiting on medical test results, to a relationship to start, or for the promotion we’ve been working toward… there is a LOT of waiting.

On the other side of these waiting periods in my life, I can look back and see how waiting has grown my patience and perseverance. Waiting has taught me how to rely more on the Lord. Waiting has transformed me. Think of Moses – from the start of his journey with the Israelites, through the end. All the waiting, yes, but also all the growth he experienced!

If you have a moment today, reflect with me on the waiting seasons you’ve experiences and write down what happened. How you handled it, what you learned, how your perspective changed. The next time you are in a season of waiting, dust off these notes and get encouraged by your own personal testimony of waiting.

Here are additional scriptures on waiting on the Lord:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He puta new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40:1 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25

For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5

If you’d like to learn more about the prophet Isaiah, check out chapter 6, which outlines his calling from God as a messenger to the people – and his quick and willing response! Isaiah 53 is the chapter of the prophesy of Jesus, including his rejection and suffering, for our salvation.

 

Heaven: The Best Part

Seven weeks ago, my best friend’s baby Briar went to be with Jesus, at 22 weeks old, before she ever took her first breath, cooed with her first smile, or wobbled to her first step. The sole comfort in this tragedy has been having absolute peace and comfort of where she now is.

In the days and weeks following, my kids (ages 8 and 5) have asked some hard, thought provoking, and inspiring questions.

Why did Briar die? Did she believe in Jesus? How come she gets to go to heaven right away?

That last question brought all the tears back. What a sweet perspective – Briar GETS TO go to heaven first! She skips right past all of the things of this world and is right in the arms of Jesus, made perfectly whole in Him.

Our passage today, Isaiah 25, is a glimpse of Heaven. I love how the Lord is described:

        • God is faithful.
        • God is our protector.
        • God is our refuge and strength.
        • God will celebrate with us and bless us.
        • God will end death and sorrow.
        • God will perfectly judge.

What I notice most of all is His presence. Take another read through this chapter – can you feel how close He is to His people? Hosting a feast… wiping our tears. The people are celebrating and singing  “THIS is our God, that we have waited for.. let’s rejoice!”  What a beautiful picture of God with His people. This isn’t a distant God, but a God that is near, hands on.. comforting us, rescuing us, eating with us.

The best part of Heaven, really  will be God’s presence! Yes, Heaven will be the end of suffering, sin, health problems, anxiety, wars, famine, bills, jobs, death, fear, violence, discord, pride… ALL of it! But what’s even greater than our lives being made whole, is WHO we will be dwelling with.

Sometimes my view of heaven becomes the absence of all the struggles of this earth along with big family and friends reunion of people that have gone on before. This passage really repositions my heart to focus on the BEST part of Heaven. Being in the presence of our perfect Father.

When my kids talk about heaven, they get so excited and first talk doing stuff with Jesus… it’s a humbling reminder for me to keep my child-like faith and my eyes on Jesus.

What comes to your mind when you think about Heaven?