When I woke Friday morning at 5:30, I had no inkling that the next 42 hours would become a stay-awake marathon and, hence, an opportunity to experience God’s supernatural strength. It all began when I flew from Abbotsford, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta enroute to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
My layover in Calgary was supposed to last about two hours, but a blizzard changed everything. One minute the airline employee at my flight’s gate said, “Gather your belongings and we’ll prepare to board.” Literally the next minute, she said, “Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m sorry—this flight has been canceled.”
Six more canceled flights within 20 minutes stranded hundreds of passengers. Line-ups at check-in and through security snaked down long corridors. The good news is—World Vision rushed to my rescue and contacted the travel agent who booked my original ticket. She verified that my airline had already rescheduled me for a 10:50 P.M. flight. The bad news is—that plane was delayed until 2 A.M.
Long story short, I crawled into my hotel bed at 5:00 A.M. It was hardly worth the effort, however, because I had to get up 45 minutes later to prepare for and drive to my first of two speaking engagements that day. My work responsibilities allowed me one hour to rest mid-afternoon, and then I headed out for the second engagement. My prayer throughout the day was, “God, please fill me with Your strength,” and He graciously answered.
By the time I said hello to my pillow on Saturday night, I’d been awake for 42 hours. My stay-awake marathon record is 47 hours, accomplished on a trip to India. Who would have thought that a trip to a city only two provinces from home could place second? As much as I hope my experience doesn’t repeat itself anytime soon, I value it as an unforgettable opportunity to have experienced God’s strength.
Scripture contains many promises about God giving His people strength. One of my favorites is found in Isaiah 40:
He [the Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth] never grows faint or weary…He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
According to this passage, who finds new strength? The person who waits on God. In this context, waiting on God means to be entwined with Him, to dwell in His presence, and to enjoy intimacy with Him. Walking in harmony with Him and His purposes, then, is the secret to experiencing His strength.
How easy it is to let life’s busyness overrun our schedule. When that happens, we put our relationship with the Lord on the back burner for time’s sake. Before long, we feel as though we’re running on empty. Exhaustion sets in, and then we begin to feel sorry for ourselves, bitter toward our circumstances, or short-tempered toward other people. That can be averted when we make time with Jesus our first priority.
Maybe you’re a young mom exhausted from countless consecutive sleepless nights. Perhaps you’re sandwiched between caring for your family and your senior parents. Maybe you’re working fulltime outside your home, and the constant juggle between career and homelife drains your energy dry. Take whatever practical steps are necessary to help you cope, make Jesus your first priority (knowing that this looks different for different seasons of life), and trust Him to keep His promise to give you the strength to fulfill your responsibilities.