Faith Perspectives – June 27, 2018
By Rev. John Campbell,
The United Presbyterian Church, Oakdale
This column arises from a meditation on the favorite verse of a lady who recently passed away.
The family told me that the final verses of Isaiah 40 were words of inspiration to their mother, in particular: “…those who hope [wait] in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Renewing our strength is important in these days of stress. Think these days of the stresses of life: aging, family difficulties, work situations, poor relationships, marital problems. And this does not mention the world problems, financial rumors, climate concerns nor political turmoil. We are constantly pounded with this variety of problems that says the world is out of control and we can do nothing about it.
I like what one has said, “We are in spiritual battles and we are just trying to live life; and at times, they both are overwhelming us and we just need a shot of adrenaline to help us through.” It reminds me of a time when I reached the end of my strength. At one time I ran marathons and in this particular race after 22 miles of running I “hit the wall”. That is another way of saying I had used up my energy. I just couldn’t go any further. That day I had to quit the race.
God does not want us to quit the race, even though we feel tired and exhausted. Isaiah was encouraging the people of Israel who had been defeated and exiled away from their homeland. The center of their worship of God, the temple in Jerusalem, was destroyed. Yet God through Isaiah is telling the people that God sees and knows; God cares. God gave them and can give us the energy we need to move into an uncertain future.
When we feel shaky and tentative and our faith seems weak, that can be an opportunity to come before the Lord, to wait in God’s presence. The problems of the world won’t go away, yet a strong, creative God can give energy for whatever we face. A meaningful and personal relationship with God can give us inner energy and strength that can sustain us. In prayer, reading the Bible and abiding in God’s presence we will be helped to tap into special power that only God can provide.
Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan.
We hear the same message in the words of Jesus as given in the Message Bible: “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”