When I saw that Isaiah 40:29-31 would be the theme Scripture for the CCDA Conference this year, something within me resounded. The Scripture took me back to the days of my childhood, when during our nightly prayer times with my parents, my dad would sing this Scripture over us.
I distinctly remember him singing, “teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait,” sometimes with tears streaming down his face. Now that I know more of his story, I realize that most of the time, my dad was singing this song as a prayer to God for his and our wellbeing.
My parents immigrated to the US from India about 30 years ago, and if anyone knows what it means to wait – it is an immigrant in America. Waiting for green cards, citizenship, family members to come over, work permits, etc. Waiting to learn American cultural dynamics and how to speak English. Waiting to find community and a place to call home. In the midst of all the waiting, there were so many questions and struggles in regards to our social, spiritual, mental, economic, and physical wellbeing.
Through it all, my parents kept an unwavering devotion to loving God and loving their neighbors. Sometimes, it was all that sustained them. Each night as kids, we would sing Scripture and pray for everyone we knew. Each day, we were with or serving our neighbors in Uvalde. To this day, my parents are still praying for and loving our neighbors in Uvalde after the mass shooting only a few months ago. They continue to wait on the Lord. What I see in their faithfulness to wait, is a strength and perseverance and love for and from God that I can only hope to instill in my children one day.
This simple spiritual discipline of reciting Isaiah 40:29-31 in song, as a prayer for my family’s, my community’s and my own wellbeing has been a practice that I will forever cherish. It centers me in remembering that God is the source of the world’s and my hope and strength. It reminds me that the depth of that hope and strength often comes in the waiting.
I pray that during the Conference, whether you are livestreaming or in-person, you too are able to find a spiritual practice that sustains you as we wait for God’s justice to come and for our communities to truly flourish. Over these next few days, we encourage you to take advantage of all the opportunities and resources we have available for your spiritual wellbeing. Consider creating margin in what can be a busy Conference schedule to pray breath prayers, read the daily devotionals, attend a prayer meeting, pray with a chaplain, process & debrief with community, etc.
I sat with my kids the other night and told them, “Let’s sing a new song that Appachen (grandpa in Malayalam) used to sing to me when I was a kid.” Together, we sang and I savored the richness of my parents’ immigration story and God’s sustenance in our lives. Like my dad, I held all the broken things in my heart and in the world before God and prayed, “Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.”