Waiting is not always easy, especially when we are children. I remember when I was very young, waiting was very painful. I counted the days till Christmas. It seemed like it would never come. When I was told we would leave England to come to Australia, I wanted it to happen then and there. I did not want to wait. Even when I got a little older, waiting to get married seemed like a life time. Waiting is hard for the young. It seems like a waste of time.
But there is an important lesson we can learn about waiting. Far from being a waste of time, it can be a very precious use of time; it can be a time we can use to prepare for what is coming. We can use it, to better equip ourselves for what is ahead. And this is particularly true in our walk with God. It can be a time when we can prepare our hearts and minds. The Bible calls this, ‘waiting on the Lord’. In one place the Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Waiting on the Lord is a time to remind ourselves that God is almighty, and He is in control; He works all things together for good; He loves me so much, He did not spare His own Son, in order to provide salvation for my soul. These are all things that will help me to ‘renew my strength’.
There was once a young Canadian lumberjack who was eager to enter the annual lumberjack competition. He was very strong and he won through to the finals. The date for the final was set, and it was to be played against an older, more experienced lumberjack. The younger fellow was sure his strength would win the day. The rule of the competition was simple. The one who could fell the most trees in a single day was the winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win.
At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled, coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going.
At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack was confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort, and he had counted at least four times when the other lumberjack had stopped to take a rest.
At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.
When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumberjack and said: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every two hours and I worked continuously through the day. What’s more, I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.
The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “I used every time I stopped to rest to sharpen my axe.” Every time we stop to wait upon the Lord, is a time for us to sharpen our axe – the Bible calls this ‘renewing our strength.’