I took a long walk today before the snow came; before our governor announced a stay-at-home advisory for the next few weeks. In this time of worldwide sickness and pervasive fear, it was good to get out of the house, to reflect on God’s beautiful creation, and to focus on Him.
As I walked, I listened to a beautiful worship song from Bethel Music called “The Blessing.” (Listen to it here.) This song was released just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and never has a song been more timely! The lyrics are scriptures which contain the priestly Aaronic blessing over Israel in Numbers 6:24:
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
The Lord be gracious unto you
and give you peace.
Worship is key for me in times of trial; it feeds my spirit and strengthens my “inner man.” Just as a dear friend sent this song to me as a blessing, I encourage you to receive this song as God’s blessing over you as well. He is truly FOR YOU!
Most people turn to familiar scriptures in times like these: Psalm 23, Psalm 91, John 14, 2 Corinthians 4:3-10. We pray these scriptures and receive a measure of strength from them every time they are read.
Yet this morning as I prayed, I encountered Psalm 91 in an entirely different way.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest and give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.
~Isaiah 62:7, ESV
I believe that today the Lord wants to both encourage and honor His "watchmen:" those who regularly wait and watch for Him in prayer!
Most of you reading this have an interest in either prayer or the prophetic gifts, and many are called to be “watchmen:” intercessors and prophets for the Body of Christ.
Watchmen (and watchwomen!) are appointed by God to serve as protectors of the Kingdom’s flock. (See Ezekiel 33:7.) They devote hours of their time, usually unseen and often at night, listening to the Lord and praying His heart for His people. Because they make themselves available to Him, they become the first line of defense when the enemy tries to ravage the flock.
I saw this truth demonstrated dramatically during my prayer time one morning.
How familiar and comforting are these words from the prophet Isaiah!
I have been quoting this verse all week, praying it over myself as I battled sickness that overtook my son and me. Weary and decidedly un-energetic, I knew I needed God’s strength!
Then a dear friend called me and said he had been quoting that same verse this week, as he was in severe pain and could not walk. It is a wonderful promise to those who love the Lord. The Bible promises renewal, not just in our minds, but in our physical bodies!
When I woke up this morning, however, it was as though the Holy Spirit were urging me to dig a little deeper. “Those words in Isaiah are not reactionary,” he said, “but preemptive.” Isaiah does not envision only a battle-weary tribe of godly people, clawing their way desperately back into God’s renewing presence! (Although historically, that is what happened.)
No, in fact, Isaiah’s words also envision a victorious people, whose “waiting upon the Lord” connects them daily to a God who is “Everlasting;” who never grows faint or weary Himself (verse 28).
In other words, we are not just the weary who hope to run again; we are runners with the potential to not grow weary in the first place!
Why? Because we pray.
Strength In the Waiting
We may begin in weakness, but our time with God enables us to persevere. Our waiting on God precedes our running and precludes our weariness. All our strength is predicated on waiting!
Waiting on God may seem like a slow start to your day when you see those java-loaded, caffeine-energized sprinters heading out the gate, leaving you in the dust of their wake! But the quiet peace and renewed energy you gain from those first moments alone with God will cause you to keep running when the golden hours come, overtaking those who have long since dropped in exhaustion by the wayside.
Not only that - but if you do fall - when you are wearied beyond belief and think God has forgotten you, Isaiah reminds: “His understanding is unsearchable.” (40:28) Compassion, not condemnation, is extended to you like a firm and sturdy hand, lifting you back to your feet.
No matter how you look at these verses - whether preemptive or redemptive - they carry tremendous hope. Either God will sustain us as we run because we waited on Him and received our sustaining strategy; or He will come to us and assist us when we fall. There is no situation in which you could find yourself where God cannot renew or restore you.
For this reason, Isaiah says, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God? Do you not know? (Hebrew yada, to know intimately) Have you not heard? He is your EVERLASTING God!”
In case you missed the irony of this verse, Jacob and Israel are the same person! (Genesis 32:27-28). Jacob represents our fallen nature, the soul that cries out in desperation to God. Israel, however, is the victor who emerges after that struggle, the one who learns to run his race successfully in the strength of the Lord. No matter how you feel today, or whom you most identify with, God is still your God!
Wait a Minute!
God has said that this is the year of “recompense.” (Isaiah 35:4) Do you believe He is renewing and restoring all things to you, both physically and emotionally? Do you rely on Him to help you walk - even run - through situations that made you stumble before? Are you believing Him for the prophetic strategies and insights that come from having divine perspective - the eyes of an eagle soaring above? Most importantly, is your life and are all your movements founded on the directions you receive as you wait upon the Lord?
For Isaiah, prayer precedes our daily walks and runs for a reason. Waiting on the Lord is preemptive. It protects us from the burnout and weariness that others experience in their eagerness to run ahead. Prayer is also redemptive when we run ahead of Him ourselves. We could ask for no greater God than this, whose compassion never fails and whose strength towards us is undying!
Teach us, Lord, to wait!
The Lord will always lead you, satisfy you in a parched land, and strengthen your bones. You will be like a watered garden and like a spring whose waters never run dry.
I hear the Lord saying: “At present, you are more like a water spigot than a fountain. You are connected to your Source and can access My power, but you enjoy the ability to turn on or off the water at your own good pleasure. I would rather you be a fountain flowing continuously, not a spigot flowing sporadically. For this, you will need to yield full control to Me.”
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.