Specifically, I’m talking about the Book of Isaiah and its famous passage about waiting.
On February 5, the Old Testament reading in liturgical churches around the world was one of my absolute favorite passages in all of Scripture: Isaiah 40: 21-31. In the New King James Version, the last verse goes like this:
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.
In addition to the encouraging words this verse holds for everyone, God has used this touched my soul directly with it a number of times, for a number of reasons I might blog about someday. For reasons that don’t entirely make sense temporally, the reading gives me Goosebumps and quickens my breathing.
It makes me feel like God has come near.
So when I learned that this Isaiah passage was the reading for that Sunday, I excitedly chose Everlasting God as one of our worship songs for that service. And as I went over it, I regretted that I’d overlooked it last Advent. That ‘Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord’ line dovetails very nicely with the anticipatory season of Advent, and I’d never picked up on it in the past.
Oh well, I said. There’s always next year.
Then, in his sermon (All Aboard in 2012) from that week, Pastor Stephen Hambidge pointed out the other definition of the word ‘wait.’ When you go out to eat, the guy who brings you your food is a waiter – the gal is a waitress. For the sake of gender neutrality we often use the term server.
In this context, to wait is to serve.
So maybe, Stephen pointed out, Isaiah 40:31 isn’t just about people who hope in the Lord (as the New International Version translates it), but moreso about people who serve Him while we hope in Him.
To be clear, I think both of these meanings of the word ‘wait’ apply here, in the same way that Jesus was God and man at the same time.
Stephen’s astute observation serves, probably unintentionally, as a bit of a rebuke for me, because I’ve often been tempted to hide behind Acts 6:2: ‘So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’
I’ve often felt like a Word minister, you see, and I’ve seen this as permission to leave the get-your-hands-dirty stuff to others while I write and sing and update the church website. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God put the word ‘wait’ in two of my favorite passages, and waited patiently for me to have ears to hear, and finally connected the dots in this way for me last week.
OK, Jesus. I get it now. Sorry it took me so long.
Good evening. My name is Baldy, and I’ll be your waiter.
Peace be with you.