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Growing up

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait on 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 faint.

On the wall of my mother's family room hangs a beautifully knit picture of an eagle with Isaiah's words carefully inscribed above it. It was a gift from the church where Mom and Dad attended forty years, along with a plaque which designated Dad as an honorary lifetime elder of the church.

I was happy to be visiting them when the pastor brought out these gifts. Dad wasn't walking much then, let alone running or soaring. I think he appreciated Isaiah's thoughts more than ever, when his own strength was failing so quickly. He talked about it; I know he thought about it even more: that it was God's strength he looked to, God's sanctuary he coveted.

So I think of him when I'm out delivering newspapers with kids who run as fast as they can to porch after porch, and I notice that my knees won't really let me run at all. And I think of Dad when my voice cracked for the first time on the high notes of "Silent Night." And I think about him when I consider complaining about any of this.

That's something he just didn't do.

A week or so before his death, celebrating my birthday, we talked a little, and he said he was ready to die. He smiled when he said it. We sang a couple of songs, and he smiled some more. He was always quiet, and he was quiet then. What I remember is his smile.

He complained plenty about my work habits when I was a kid. He wanted everything perfect, or at least that's the way it seemed to me. He complained about lazy and stupid cows that wouldn't do what he wanted them to do. But later, when his life became miserable, he didn't complain at all.

I think he figured out the secret of giving God the chance to be strong in his own human weakness, letting God do his job. It might have taken him awhile, but I'm glad I got to watch him share the lesson he had learned. To learn what I could from him to help me get ready for my own day.

You, Lord, are worth waiting for. Whatever the cost, teach me to wait with joy for you.

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