By Marlene Houk
Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I shifted uneasily in the blue upholstered airport seat, waiting for the international flight that would whisk my brother-in-law, his wife, and two young nephews out of our reach for the next five years. It was an 18-hour flight from Charlotte, NC to Durban, South Africa, an interminable wait for my own children, a robust 13-year-old and a fidgety 17-year-old.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. It’s a gnawing, grinding, grabbing tentacle of tension that slithers into my heart and destroys my patience. I often declare war on waiting with frenzied cleaning or continual chatting with friends. Sometimes, I multi-task while waiting, proud of checkmarks on my to-do list. I bring stacks of books and make big plans to pack much work into a 7-hour drive or a stint in the surgical waiting room because distraction is a relief from the dreariness of waiting. Waiting does not come easy to those who are creatures of action, who stride into the future with solutions, and who, later, understand the wisdom of what happens during true waiting.
Tucked neatly into the subtle layers of Esther, the 17th book of the Bible, the careful student will discover the faint, quiet fragrance of waiting and its treasured timeless value. Like a carefully preserved wedding dress, the silk folds and Chantilly lace of a life that waits upon the LORD glimmers with His glory. Listen to the crackle of the paper as we separate the glorious layers of the lovely heirloom wedding dress of waiting. Hidden between the drama and the chaos, a quiet fact resides. Esther waited. How does God design waiting, like a wedding dress, to fall in graceful folds around our spirits while subtly reflecting His glory?
From the time of her marriage to the king and the evil plot of Haman, there were five years. Perhaps Esther did not consider them as waiting years, but God nevertheless designed them to be intervening years of preparation for His will. And this short list is some of what she learned as demonstrated by her later actions:
- Relationship waiting: If your waiting is not based on your relationship with the LORD, it will gather tension rather than peace. Esther continued to maintain strong relationships with God, Mordecai, and her people, the Jews.
- Directed waiting-upon the LORD. If you do not focus on the LORD during your waiting, stress will reduce waiting to a trial. Esther finally understood the value of focusing on the LORD rather than her fear.
- Promises of waiting: According to Isaiah 40:31, waiting is a time to:
- renew strength,
- Mount up our focus above earthly woes to eternal effects.
- Endure the journey of life without fainting.
Esther gained strength as she worked with the people God had placed around her, as she focused on the salvation of her people, and as she endured the 10 months of waiting for redemption.
Queen Esther learned to wait, and we, as her proteges, can learn to graciously accept the royal duty of waiting, knowing that we become more like Christ through the journey and that glory awaits us!