Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT
I enjoy working out. Seriously! I don’t enjoy running so much, but I like weight training, walking, and most recently Zumba which is basically dancing your rear-end off with friends for an hour at a time to fun, bass pumping music. Over the years I’ve learned that strength is gained not only in jumping, running, or even necessarily repeating a motion over and over. Sometimes it’s gained by assuming a position and holding it for a long time, completely still. Well, almost completely still. Have you ever done planks? You lay on the floor resting on your elbows, legs straight out, up on your toes so that your body is parallel to the floor. Then you just stay there. For a long time. For a really long time. And your arms and legs start shaking and your abs start burning and you drop to the floor and exhale in relief. It is one of the best ab exercises ever. There are adaptations to it if you get bored with the plain old plank, like side planks, crossover…well, you get the idea.
To really strengthen your quadriceps, the thigh muscle in front, you can do hold squats: stand with feet about hip-width apart, squat down with your knees directly over your feet, and then just stay there. For a long time. For a really long time. Longer. Don’t stand up yet. Your legs start trembling and muscles burning but you stay low down and hold…..then you stand up. Whew.
I love Isaiah chapter 40. Those last few verses are well-known and often referred to, especially by people who in the mist of trials and feeling like they could use a boost from God. I’ve been thinking about it lately and realize that I was probably misinterpreting it a little bit. I think, if I was completely honest, that in a way I took that verse to mean that if I chose to wait on God, then in just a few minutes a big zap of strength and power was on its way straight to my wimpy heart. You know, God would clap His enormous hands in pride at my patience and I’d pretty much instantly feel better and be more able to keep going.
I think the waiting that Isaiah was talking about is a type of strength training. The waiting involved is like holding a plank for a long time or standing in a hold squat, waiting, waiting. It is hard, it sometimes hurts, we wonder when it will be over and if we can keep holding this position of patience on God. He enables us to and the end result is greater strength. I believe this happens over and over in life. There is no one session of training and then we’re good to go for the rest of our days. God is a faithful and persistent personal trainer. He knows what works best to build us up, making us fit for this narrow path journey.
It helps me when I’m working out to think of the benefits of the exercise I’m doing, to focus on the end results, or to even think about other things, to look around me if I’m outside and enjoy nature, think and pray about something, get the focus off my straining muscles. It would be a great idea to focus on God and how amazing and wonderful He is instead of the lengthy waiting/training session I’m having in my walk with Jesus. Look at a few verses above the commonly quoted verses:
“To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing.
O Jacob [Mimi], how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
O Israel [insert your name here], how can you say God ignores your rights? Isaiah 40:26-27
He DOES give strength to the weary. He DOES enable the tired to get up and run again – not just shuffle along or stagger but RUN. He WILL scoop us up at times and toss us so high we get to SOAR in joy and thankfulness over His goodness, faithfulness, care and concern for us. God trains those He loves. I’m waiting, God. Pump me up!