On Eagles’ Wings Isaiah 40: 29 –31 2/4/2018
Have you ever been tired? I know that sounds like a dumb question. But I mean really tired, where it felt like you wouldn’t be able to lift a finger even if your life depended on it?
- Perhaps you spent the day working outdoors around the house, or out in the garden.
- Perhaps you had to prepare for an important meeting or presentation or interview, and your head ached like it would explode.
- Perhaps you had been running around all day; in & out of stores; waiting in traffic; waiting in lines.
- Perhaps you had been under a lot of pressure for whatever reason and the strain seemed to drain all the energy through the bottom of your socks.
Now imagine being tired for days and perhaps weeks. THAT’S feeling weary.
Feeling weary is:
- when your emotions bottom out, and laughter is forced
- when the events of the day seem to be surrounded in a damp heavy fog and “led” weights seem tied to your feet
- when you forget what its like to wake up with anticipation and bounce out of bed ready for the day ahead.
Weariness – it can affect us physically, it can affect us emotionally, and it can affect us spiritually.
Feeling weary: Working at a job or career that seems to be asking for more & more of you, but offering less & less to you by way of satisfaction or meaning.
Feeling weary: waking up each morning having to deal with family dynamics that are filled with tension and resentment.
Feeling weary: overwhelmed with sadness, or a sense of worthlessness, or depression, or loneliness.
Feeling weary: dragging your body around the house, knowing that the very next movement you make will bring yet more pain.
Feeling weary: having to deal with another round of doctor appointments, medical tests, and one more medication.
Feeling weary: worried about the state of our country and the direction it seems to be going, or not going.
Feeling weary: feeling tempted to do what you KNOW is displeasing to God, and in the long run hurtful to your life; and feeling tempted again and again and again.
- Crushed by the guilt of having given in again and again and again.
- Tired because you are sure that God is furious or at least totally fed up with you by now.
Feeling weary: wondering just what all of today’s busyness is about, anyway?
- Where has it all really gotten you anyway?
- And where does small little you fit in this big, big, universe?
Human weariness – it is to weary people that today’s reading from Isaiah 40 speaks.
You know, there are two things that stick out time and again as I read, and reread chapter 40 of Isaiah.
The first is the immensity of life and our world: grass, flowers, gigantic mountains, hills, infinite skies, stars, miles of sand, billions of people – they’re all mentioned in this reading.
The second thing is that even though life is great and our world is immense, the God who created it all is far greater and far more immense. It is God . . .
- Who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth;
- Who stretches out the heavens like a canopy;
- Who created all the stars and constellations;
- Who brings them out one by one, calling each by name;
- Who weighs the islands as if they are fine dust;
- Who measure the waters in the hollows of his hands.
A Great big life, and an even Greater & bigger God.
And to us who are limited people, who often have to find out the hard way that we DON’T have the ability to conquer the world, and that we AREN’T emotional giants able to withstand anything and everything thrown at us; to us come the words of Isaiah 40:
“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
The everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth, promises to give strength to the weary and increased power to the weak.
Now don’t you at times just want to scream out “Great big God – I NEED that strength! NOW!” Or pray something like this: “O God, the world is big and I’m not. The future is long, and I’m short-sighted. Great wisdom is needed, and I am very limited.” “I need help. I need your help.”
If you resonate with similar words in prayer like that then I invite you to hear the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Words spoken by Jesus, who came to live in our weary and tired world, who experienced the tension, hunger, loneliness, pain, frustration and temptation that tend to drive us into the ground day in and day out. Who came that we might answer God’s call: Come to me! Hope in me and find renewed strength. Come rest and I will raise you up on my wings. Let me carry you while I run for you. Let me hold your hand as together we walk.
We are offered God’s very special strength today:
- The strength inside that comes from the very real awareness that we don’t face the task of life alone. That we are never forgotten or ignored!
- That instead we have a very special friend in Jesus – who watches us at all times, cares for us at all times, and who is open to having us come and speak directly to God at all times.
- It is the strength that gives courage to get back up again after disastrous defeat to temptation of one sort or another.
- It is the strength that remembers that I am God’s. That God loves me.
That God forgives me! Now and Forever!
- It is the inner strength that says: If God pays that much attention to me, and considers me important enough to send Jesus to die for me, then I am a somebody! I’m worthwhile! I’m special!
- That strength can give me something to hang on to and somewhere to turn when it seems that almost everyone doesn’t give a rip about me anymore.
- It is the strength to carry on through the humdrum, mundane sameness of living day to day.
- It is this strength that allowed one person to write: “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing each day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!”
These words were not written by someone oblivious to reality, or fitted with a permanent pair of rose-colored glasses. And they are not the words of some hardened rock of a person who laughed when everyone else cried, who felt no pain.
These are the words of the Apostle Paul who speaks from a life of hardship:
- wrestling with a physical handicap,
- rejected by his professional peers,
- several stints in prison due to religious persecution,
- and a schedule that would drive most of us over the edge.
The eagle wing strength of God is strength to face those things that happen to us in life openly, and to deal with them. A strength that refuses to let life be destroyed because of the issues of life.
It is a divine strength, above all, that gets us through in the knowledge that one day these things too, will pass away and the eternal and perfect order of the New Heaven and the new Earth will come into place.
This God-given strength Isaiah and Paul speak of is very real. Many of you know that – for you have experienced it in your own way; receiving the inner strength to be able to face the particular struggles of your life. Yes – the strength of God is very real!!
The sad part is that so many people don’t allow themselves the privilege of cultivating a channel to this source of divine peace while things are going well. They – shall I say we? – become so busy with the distractions of everyday living, the little tyrannies or pleasures, that slowly but surely contact with God is lost.
And then, when we need God the most, we discover that we are so distant.
- Oh, not because God has left us.
- It is that we have wrapped ourselves in so many different layers of busyness that we shield ourselves, blind ourselves, and deafen ourselves to an awareness of God’s presence. We distance ourselves from God, “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…”
And how is this accomplished? It is accomplished by taking time to pause, to reflect and say a brief word of thanks to God for the many blessings that have been bestowed on us through the love that God gives to us, and the grace that God has given to us.
My question to you then is: how and when do you enjoy the presence of the God in your life? How and when do YOU “wait on the Lord”?
“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”
There are times in our lives, and the lives of all believers, when no matter how hard we try to stay in touch, or how well prepared we are, God seems totally distant and God’s strength totally out of reach. Maybe that is you right now. Or maybe you’ve been through that experience. Or maybe you know someone like that.
In these times, there are those who are called to be the channels of God’s grace to a troubled life; to be the wings of healing and hope and strength to another. That’s a central part of being Christian, of being the church.
Isaiah speaks of God lifting believers up on eagle wings. Those wings are found in the fellowship, community, and gathering of the saints in the Church.
Being eagle’s wings for each other – regardless of why or how the person ended up in a broken heap on the floor. Of being there with prayers, visits, a listening ear, holding a hand, mowing the lawn, washing the car, cooking a meal, caring for the children or grand-children, driving to the doctor.
“Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.”
In sometimes mysterious, and sometimes not so mysterious ways we will be able to get back up and continue running. We will be dusted off in order to walk again. We will help each other up in the name and power of God.
And together, side by side, hand in hand, we will face the future, waiting for the day when Jesus will gather us up into his powerful eagle arms for the last time and wing us to the top of God’s eternal mountain. Where the complete intensity of this promise in Isaiah will be fulfilled and where there will be no more weariness or tiredness, or sorrow, or crying, or pain.
For then the old way of things will have passed away. Then, indeed, we will run and not grow weary. We will walk and not be faint.
Here’s the audio recording of the sermon. TO LISTEN, in the SoundCloud window below, CLICK (or double-Click) the red button with the white arrow pointing to the right. If that does not work, then click on the “Sermon 2-4-18” name of the sermon.