I have never liked January (if this is your birthday month, sorry!), and I am not sure exactly why. I don’t like January probably in the same way I don’t like Mondays and that I am not a morning person. And probably why I love Thursdays and my favorite time of day is dusk.
To me January feels like dipping my feet in the ocean, testing out the temperature to see if I want to get in. But unlike deciding whether I want to get in or not, I can’t really decide whether I get into the New Year. And so I usually just “get into” it, dreading that I have no choice but go in.
Maybe it is just another way that perfectionism has trickled into my life. I would much rather finish something than start it. This dislike may also be another way of looking inward – of figuring out whether I have what it takes to do something and do it well.
This year, especially this first quarter, feels more like an ending than a new beginning. We are moving from this country in May, which means we have about 4 months left here. We need to plan our move to another country, as well as our summer back in the US. We long to care for our family and love others well as we do this.
We are exhausted (“Aylín is barely making it” my husband wrote to a friend this week) ‘cause baby. ‘Cause sickness. ‘Cause post partum hormones. ‘Cause church planting. ‘Cause we have 3 littles. ‘Cause we have been culture-shocking and in transition for about 2.5 years and about to go through another round of it.
If I look inward I already know I don’t have what it takes to get into this year. But still the year begins. We have change ahead with lots of unknowns. And lots of goodbyes. Then transition to new beginnings and a new way of life.
Fresh start is not exactly what comes to mind when I think about January. Fresh strength, however, does come to mind because it is what we need, not what we have.
In desperately obsessing about my need for rest and fresh strength earlier this week the Lord took me to Isaiah 40: 31: “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.” I had read this verse before. But this time it took me by surprise: that the way to fresh strength is waiting? I personally want to do something about it. “Where can we go to rest? What plans do we need to make it happen?” That’s what I kept wondering this week.
Waiting can also be draining. And yet the Lord calls the one who is fainting and weary to wait. Wait for Him. Reading the whole chapter helped me to understand the logic of God in that verse.
Behold the One You’re Waiting For
Isaiah 40 is God’s comfort to His people who are in exile. He comforts them by setting their gaze and their hope in their God and in the cosmic display of His glory. The Lord would come as a mighty King, a generous Rewarder and as a gentle Shepherd. All flesh would see Him.
He can’t be compared to anything they could think of. His power, His understanding, His wisdom are unsearchable. They might feel as if God had forgotten them, could not see them. But Isaiah reassured them their way was not hidden from their God. He is the everlasting God, He created even the ends of the earth, hidden to everyone but Him. He had all the power to deliver them because He doesn’t faint or grow weary.
He is completely trustworthy. He shows up at just the right time. He is an endurance-producing God. The way to fresh strength is waiting for this God.
From this side of the Cross, I know that the cosmic display of the glory of the Lord was revealed at the Cross, when Christ, the Servant of the Lord was lifted up. The Mighty King used His might to die and to atone for our sins; the Rewarder received God’s punishment in our place. The Gentle Shepherd became the Lamb of God, silent before its shearers. And praise God, his death was not the end of His life. He saw the offspring He fathered through his death. His days were prolonged (Isaiah 53: 10). He rose to everlasting life.
Behold your Champion
Christian courage is active faith in the strength of Another. While perfectionism would have me look inward for strength (leading me to feel faint), the Lord has me find strength by beholding the Lamb of God.
I see Him seated at the right hand of God, governing History (including my little life) with all authority to accomplish His purposes. He is there, praying for me. He will never grow weary of completing the good work He started in me and in the world.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to a FIFA Club World Cup match here in our city. The teams, Mexico against Brazil, were competing for second place. The stadium was vibrant as the fans cheered the players on, especially awesome loud Brazilians with their drums and chants. (It was the closest I have felt to my country and the most alive I have felt in a very long time). I was struck by how invested they were in every play. Their energy was contagious. The players were on the field and the spectators were at the edge of their seats, excitedly watching their every move. It occurred to me that this is how the witnesses of Hebrews 12 must be.
They have gone before and are right now cheering us on as we race on to the finish line. They see us facing temptation, difficulty, discouragement and all kind of opposition. And they whistle and shout and carry us on – “You can do it!! Keep going! The end is near! It is so worth it! And Jesus – oh man, Jesus is SO worthy!!”
What blows me away is to see Christ as the main witness in Hebrews. He is at the head of the trail since He blazed it for us as our forerunner. There is a Man in Heaven guaranteeing my victory, because as my Champion, He went there ahead of me (Heb. 6: 20). “You can do it, because I did it for you and in you!”
It is for this tireless, victorious, promise-keeping God that I wait.
So it is another day and I only slept 3 hours…again! I wait for the Lord.
We have weighty decisions ahead of us and we are not sure what is best for our family. We wait for the Lord.
My nursing baby is still feeding multiple times every night which means sleep is short. Interrupted. I wait for the Lord.
We have lots of things to do before we move internationally in 4 months. We wait for the Lord.
My kids are sick. Weren’t they just sick? I wait for the Lord.
I am going through transition feeling weak and vulnerable in more than one way. I wait for the Lord.
We look ahead to the year and we don’t know how we will make it through. We wait for the Lord.
Will we even see the fruit of all this effort and uprooting? We wait for the Lord.
I am not dipping my toes into this year. My Strength is coming and carrying me into it. And that is infinitely better.
What are you waiting on God for? In what specific ways does His worth encourage your heart?