by Francis W. Dixon
"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isa. 40: 31).
The verse before us tells us what might well be called the over-all secret. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that there is very much failure in our Christian living and service: The Word of God convinces us of our failure. Do we not oftentimes "faint" and have "no power" (v. 29)? Do we not often "grow tired" and do we not frequently "fall" (v. 30)? This is God's description of the failure which so often characterizes the lives of His children. But: observation also convinces us of our failure. We know we fail because, our eyes tell us so. Our own heart tells us that it is true. How faint and weary we become, and how slow we are to learn the way of victory and power!
1) The primary cause is ignorance of the resources which are at our disposal (see Hosea 4:6, compare Matthew 22:29, and Isaiah 40:28: "Do you not know?" What are the resources at our disposal? In verses 28 and 29 we read that "The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator." is offering to give us power and strength. So, against the sad background of our failure is the promise of God to turn our failure into glorious triumph. This God, this mighty Lord, is placing all His unlimited resources of strength and power at our disposal—but we must tap these resources, and this indicates the second cause of failure.
2) Failure to appropriate those resources. In response to His giving we must receive. How does this giving and receiving take place? How can this mighty enabling become mine? Verse 31 gives the answer: "They that wait upon the Lord." Waiting on the Lord means much more than praying, worshiping, attending services, and reading the Bible. From Isaiah 41:1, we learn that it means to "be silent before me" (compare Ps. 62:1, where the word "waiteth" means "be silent").
Waiting upon God means to be cast upon Him in utter dependence, ready to hear His voice and do His bidding, having our whole expectation from Him. It implies complete confidence in the Lord, and absolutely no confidence in self or in human help.
There is a four-fold result, as indicated in verse 31, and as emphasized by the repetition of the four "wills" in this verse. This is "life on the highest plane," the truly successful Christian life.
1) We shall have God's strength in place of our weakness. The word "renew" may be translated "change" or "exchange." Have you realized that your greatest weakness is your own strength, and that if you will go before the Lord in utter weakness He will exchange your weakness for His strength?
What kind of strength does He give? Physical strength? Certainly He can and does renew our physical strength when we wait upon Him. Mental strength? Yes, He is the fountain of all wisdom and He certainly quickens our minds when we wait before Him (cf. Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23, and 2 Tim. 1:7). Moral strength? Most certainly. And how we need this, living as we do in a world which is full of tempting voices and sights (see Eph. 6:10 and 2 Tim. 2:1). Spiritual strength? Absolutely (see Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:25, and Isa. 30:15).
2) We shall enjoy life above the average. We shall "soar on wings like eagles," far above earth's level, where "the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." The eagle is the only bird which flies so high that it is lost to sight, and that is where we belong. We belong to heaven now (Phil. 3:20). Here and now we are "raised up with Christ" (Eph. 2:6).
Yet how many Christians are earth-bound, hopping on the ground like a bird with a broken wing, instead of flying in the heavenly heights like an eagle! We have been made to fly, not to hop!
3) We shall do supernatural things. We shall "run and not grow weary." It is not natural to keep running and not feel weary. God promises supernatural power for the accomplishing of supernatural tasks. We are a supernatural people because we are linked to a supernatural God (John 7:38; 14:12)! Are the "streams of living water" flowing through us and are the "greater things" being accomplished through us?
4) We shall live victoriously in the hardest place of all—in the daily routine of life. We shall "walk and not be faint." Notice, it does not say that we shall "run and not faint." Sometimes it is much easier to run than to walk! The most testing place for each one of us is that place where we engage in the "trivial round and common task" (see Gen. 5:24 and Ps. 37:23).
A. B. Simpson used frequently to get alone in the presence of the Lord and say, "I'm a failure. I have no strength and no life. But Thou art my Life, Thou art my Strength, Thou art my Victory!" Then, by faith, he would take in the life of his risen Lord for body, mind, and spirit. Surely this is what it means to wait upon the Lord! And the result? "Life on the highest plane"—true spiritual success.