I am currently in a season of waiting. This is not the first time I have been exposed to this long, hard season of silence and hope, nor do I suspect it will be the last. There is something about this particular season though, that feels weighty and tenuous. I often find myself lying awake in the small morning hours fretting over life’s intricacies and trajectories. I spend most days spinning my wheels in anxiety, only to realize I have arrived nowhere but at the end of the day with no more answers than I started out with, completely exhausted. This is not waiting well. This is not where one finds joy in waiting on the Lord.
I recently began working with a personal trainer. We have diametrically opposed views on the use of kettlebells, but she trains me for free, so we use them anyway. One of the things she makes me do regularly is the kettlebell jerk. This is when you lift the kettlebell from your chest up over your head. It’s hard. It’s a technical move that uses power from your legs and core to sustain the strength in your arm and shoulder. It requires effort from your whole body. She told me it took her 3 years to be able to perfect this technique. Which sounds to me, a lot like the rhythm of Upwards.
We need to lift the weight of our hearts to God and create a practice of doing so regularly – even when we are tired, even when we hurt from doing this a thousand times the day before, even when we don’t want to.
If I am to be better at waiting, I need to strengthen my Upwards reflex. For a disciple of Jesus life is this constant action of returning your heart to its first love, Jesus. It means remembering to lift your heart to the warmth and grace of our saviour before we forget it in the messiness of expectation, bitterness, and impatience. It means lifting our hearts, and all the baggage that is attached to it: hurt, anger, disappointment, joy, to the one who created your heart in the first place. Upwards looks like bringing your concerns to God and inviting Him into these tension-filled places rather than myopically staring down your fears as if you alone have the power to conquer them.
We need to lift the weight of our hearts to God and create a practice of doing so regularly – even when we are tired, even when we hurt from doing this a thousand times the day before, even when we don’t want to. Lifting our hearts upwards, and living in this rhythm of upward motion, reminds us that we can’t and don’t have to live the Christian life alone. The Christian life is not a pursuit of piety and religiosity in the face of a disinterested God, it is a relationship with a God who is deeply interested in my personal formation.
While we wait, we believe there are things in our lives that God has called us to. There are avenues which He is calling us to explore and if we believe that then we must believe He will sustain us every step of the way there; even while we wait. And if we are going to trust Him to guide our steps to where He has called us, then we must trust that He will guide our steps as we wait for a green light. Because if we do not trust Him in the waiting, how can we trust Him in the action? The only way to build trust is to lift our hearts upward; to offer our hearts back to the One who guides it, cares for it, and ultimately, knows the purpose for which it was created.
So, while I am awake at night, with thoughts of waiting pressing in on me; with anxiety telling me that I am wasting my time, I practice my kettlebell jerks. Lifting the weight that is on my chest up, and letting God see it for all that it is. Lifting my heart to the Lord so that He can continue the work He has already begun. Reminding myself that I am not in this period of waiting alone, that God is here. He is sustaining, preparing, and training me for what lies on the opposite side of this waiting period. This is the beauty of Upwards; training in trust for the soul.