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Sermonette on Sinking and Soaring

February 9, 2012

Our Lord’s example provides the key to a particular healing our Lord would like to offer us for a particular kind of fever and sickness: the fever pace of life.

Mark 1:35 says: “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Jesus models how we are to live. In the midst of all the craziness – the crush of need around him, Jesus carves out time alone in prayer to his Heavenly Father. It surely goes without saying that if he felt this need to pray, then surely we should, also.

Isaiah 40:30-31 has this same message: Don’t try to go through life in your own strength. Verse 30 says: “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted.” Life is a wilderness journey, with the sun blazing upon us. We can’t make it through without being replenished with water. To change the analogy, we can’t make it through life on battery power. We have to plug in, and stay connected with the One who doesn’t tire as our power source.

Donald M. Tuttle told the story of a little boy and his father. They were walking along a road when they came across a large stone. The boy looked at the stone and thought about it a little. Then he asked his father, “Do you think if I use all my strength, I can move that rock?”

The father thought for a moment and said, “I think that if you use all your strength, you can do it.”

That was all the little boy needed. He ran over to the rock and began to push on it. He pushed and he pushed, so hard did he try that little beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. But the rock didn’t move — not an inch, not half an inch. After a while, the little boy sat down on the ground. His face had fallen. His whole body seemed to be just a lump there on the earth. “You were wrong,” he told his dad. “I can’t do it.”   

His father walked over to him, knelt beside him, and put his arm around the boy’s shoulder. “You can do it,” he said. “You just didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.” 

We are not meant to go through life on our own, trying to move the boulders we encounter on our way in our own strength, by ourselves. If we try to do this, we shall find the boulders to be unmovable, and our life unlivable. We shall be flapping frantically like a hummingbird to stay in the air – or perhaps like the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, who flaps frantically but doesn’t stay in the air!

This is not God’s plan for how to live! God wants for us to soar like an eagle. Verse 31 promises: “but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The image is of an eagle spreading its wings and catching a thermal – a shaft of warm air rising that can lift it up effortlessly as much as a thousand feet.

The promise is that if we accept God’s offer to go through life together, we shall find that God is indeed there. We shall experience the wind of the Spirit beneath our wings, and that underneath us are the everlasting arms.

Thanks be to God.

(This is adapted from the sermon at our February 5 Services. Embedded below is “They That Wait Upon the Lord,” a song that sets Isaiah 40:30-31 to music. We sang this at our 10:00 a.m. Service on Sunday.)

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