September 5, 2017
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Serve the Lord with gladness. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“On Eagle’s Wings”
“We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and lightening, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait.”
Frederick William Faber
What am I waiting for in my life?
How has waiting upon God to answer my prayer changed me?
Am I willing to wait for God to work in His time and His way in my life everyday?
“One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.”
“The wing-life is characterized by comprehensiveness. High soaring gives wide seeing.”
Jim and I are blessed to live in what I refer to as “bird-heaven.” Having grown up as children in families that encouraged a great love of the outdoors, both Jim and I brought to our relationship an energy for being out in nature. And this fondness for the beauty in creation has led us to focus a great deal of time on bird-watching through the years.
Our yard, at migration time, is filled with the blue, red, yellow, russet, and purple plumage of the most astounding variety of “feathered friends.”
But of all the birds I witnessed in nature, none has astounded both Jim and me more than the eagles that reside in a remote canyon which surrounds the Verde River. Nestled high up among the sheer rock cliffs, a mom and dad eagle have a nest that we’ve visited, (from a distance by train), where we were able to see these incredible birds not only taking care of their young, but soaring above the valley floor, wings spread broadly, using the rising currents of thermals to lift their bodies higher and higher.
It is no accident, whatsoever, that our heavenly Creator, the God of heaven and earth, inspired the words of His prophet Isaiah, who compared what happens when you and I wait upon God, to an eagle who takes off and is lifted to heights that are unimaginable.
It is the idea of being lifted up, with renewed strength that brings us to the central core of how we handle the times in our lives when our prayers don’t seem to be answered or the answer is delayed. Pastor Charles Spurgeon observed, “Delayed answers to prayer are not only trials of faith, but they give us opportunities of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.” I want to add to this a thought shared by Ben Patterson in a treasure of a book called, Waiting – Finding Hope When God Seems Silent. This is the tremendous insight Pastor Patterson offers regarding delayed answers to prayer: “Remember: from God’s reckoning at least as important as the thing we wait for is what we become as we wait. Faith and character are forged in delay.”
It is this point that makes me revisit the eagle family. On one of our trips to the cliffs where mother, father and two baby eaglets made their home in a huge nest, we watched as the small birds tried flapping their small, immature wings, unable at first to go anywhere, they used the comfort and security of the nest as their personal perch. But as time went by, you could see their parents pushing them, encouraging them to venture farther away from “home.” Soon, their small wings were larger, and the sky was filled with all these soaring wonders. However, the transformation of the small birds into giant wonders didn’t happen overnight – there was a time of waiting. A time of learning. The very same process holds true for you and me in our walk of faith and our ability to trust God, even when we don’t see a bit of evidence that He is at work, taking care of our unanswered prayers or the delayed answers which have us completely frustrated or disappointed.
Let me get personal for a moment because as I shared with you, I’ve had a very private prayer in my heart for many years, having specifically to do with the purpose God has for my life. Years ago, I laid my longing before God, only to have one detour after another thwart my desires. I’ll honestly admit, there were times the detours were of my own ambitious creation. And the trouble I got into was the consequence of my own headstrong, I-can-handle-this-myself behavior. You may know exactly what I’m talking about for you may have gotten yourself off track and into a place where God never intended for you to be, too!
So what did my heavenly Father do about His willful and wayward, daughter, Dorothy? Did He pick up the nest He cradled me in and toss me out on my own and say, “There you go. You think you can fly on your own? Well, good luck. Let’s see how you do.” No! Our Father doesn’t work this way. Instead, He prepared me – and believe me – it has taken a lot of time because I’m more stubborn and hard-headed than most. But day after day and year after year, God has shown me – by keeping His promises, by answering my prayers, and yes, by sometimes delaying His answers -- that He is Someone I can completely and wholly trust. Just this week, I read these words penned by Augustine of Hippo, “God is not a deceiver, that He should offer to support us, and then, when we lean upon Him, should slip away from us.” All I can say is that I know this to be true -- 100% true!
“How?” you might ask. Because during those times when I’ve had to wait for the answer I longed for, God comes along – in fact, He may have sent you to write a note to me here in the Garden, like one of God’s most precious daughters did several months ago and she said, “A soul was saved tonight.” That’s all it took for me to know that any delay, any waiting time is part of my Father’s purpose for my life – a purpose that is so high above the valley of my concerns. And this is because my God and your God promises us that when He answers our prayers, we will be up there in the sky soaring with the eagles.
I want to share with you the way A. B. Simpson helps us broaden our view of God’s design for each of our lives:
“Very often, andbefore we areaware of it, we are absorbed in a lot of distracting cares and interests that quite turn us aside from the great purpose of our life. We may not do much harm, but we have missed our connection. We have gotten off the main line. Let these things alone. Let distractions come and go, but press forward steadily and irresistibly with your God-given task. The eagle flying in the upper air pays but little or no attention to what is going on in the earth below him…God would have us to be “eagle saints.”
In 1742, Robert Seagrave, a clergyman at Lorimer’s Hall began the work of preparing “Hymns for Christian Worship.” I want to share a few lines from one of his best know hymns:
“Rise my soul, and stretch thy wings,
Thy better portion trace;
Rise from transitory things
Toward heaven, thy native place.”
What is it you find yourself waiting for? Has the delay to your unanswered prayer pushed you to the limit of your human strength? Do you feel that your Father just isn’t listening anymore?
Our friend and fellow traveler, the prophet Isaiah, has a message today and everyday from heaven – just for you, from your Father’s throne:
“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.”
“God spreads broad wings;
and by His lifting, holy grace,
We find a wider, fairer place,
The freedom of untrammeled space;
Where clearer vision shows us things
The nest-view never brings.”
Do you have a prayer that is unanswered or delayed? I invite you to send me your request so I can add your longing to my personal intercessory prayer list. God’s at work – Praise His name. And His purpose will be fulfilled in your life. To paraphrase the words of Charles Spurgeon, when God makes a promise, He has put His throne on the line on our behalf. What confidence we can have today that our Father will keep His word.
“O God of the impossible!
Since all things are to Thee
But soil in which Omnipotence
Can work almightily,
Each trial may to us become
The means that will display
How o’er what seems impossible
Our God hath perfect sway!
The very storms that beat upon
Our little bark so frail,
But manifest Thy power to quell
All forces that assail.
The things that are to us too hard,
The foes that are too strong,
Are just the very ones that may
Awake a triumph song.
O God of the impossible,
When we no hope can see,
Grant us the faith that still believes
ALL possible to Thee!”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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