Meditations by John Dean

Monday, September 15, 2014

Renewed Strength

(Isaiah 40:31 KJV) 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.

For decades mankind has tried everything imaginable to preserve their youth. They have tried creams, tonics, mud packs, mineral baths and face lifts, but so far nothing has worked.

The fact is: sooner or later everyone’s fluffy cheeks will start sagging, their biceps will start swinging from the bottom and they will begin to notice extra skin growing on their neck. But just because these things happen it does not mean that their better days are over or they are becoming a second class citizen.

It seems that growing older (particularly here in the States) has almost become a shameful experience. As a result, millions of dollars are spent each year trying to stop the aging process so one can continue to fit into a society that they helped create…but now are too old for.

I am both amazed and blessed when I go to other countries and see how they respect their older folks. They not only respect them for their age, but they also believe they are much wiser because of their age and experience.

However, our text is not really talking about our outer beauty, it is talking about our inner strength. Because man is naturally prideful he is more prone to think of renewing his looks rather than renewing his exhausted strength…or a strength that has been used up.

According to our text the Lord is a lot more interested in our inner strength than He is in our outer looks. The only way one’s inner strength can be renewed is by “Waiting upon the Lord.”

The word “wait” in the Hebrew means to “wait upon the Lord with expectancy and trust, putting our hope and confidence in Him.”

When our text says to “renew”… the Hebrew word means “to change, to alter and revive” In other words it means to “flourish again.”

I was reading the newspaper the other morning and noticed in the obituary section that many of the deceased had two pictures posted. At first I wondered why that was necessary, but then I realized after studying their pictures that most of their older pictures did not resemble their younger pictures. Perhaps that is the reason for two pictures, so their old friends who had not seen them for years would recognized them.

A good example of that is the feeling one gets when they go back to a class reunion after twenty or thirty years. One seems to experience both joy and disappointment…joy in seeing their old friends again, but disappointment because they do not look like your old friends.

This happened to me a short time ago when I went to a funeral and saw a friend that I had not seen in over fifty years. He walked up to me and said, “Are you John Dean?” and I said “Yes” so he told me who he was. This man happened to be one of my very best friends in high school, but I did not recognize him.

He was not only a tall blond curly headed basketball star, but he was also a jovial and fun person to be with. In addition to all of that, he was quite a hit with the girls and all the teachers loved him.

However, the day we met at the funeral he was not only bald headed, but the onetime “life of the party guy” seemed to have lost his joy forever. After I responded “Yes” to his question, “Are you John Dean?”…he felt it necessary to say to me, “Well, I have gained a lot of weight.”

His weight and baldness did not bother me because we all change on the outside. The thing that bothered me was that life had changed him on the inside. My friend needed “renewed strength.”

I must admit as I read the obituary that morning and studied both the younger and older pictures of the deceased I had several questions. I wondered things like…Did they grow old gracefully and were they respected by their kids, their friends and relatives? Was their life more difficult than it should have been?

The biggest question I had was, “How often did they ‘wait upon the Lord to renew their strength?’”

My prayer is that one day when people read my obituary they will be able to see in my face that I was a man who “waited upon the Lord” and walked in renewed strength.

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