But they 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. Isaiah 40:31 ESV
In light of the despair many of us are feeling from the two recent senseless mass shootings, I simply share this familiar verse. Though we have heard it thousands of times, the amazing thing is that God’s Word always has something fresh for our daily lives. The first time I came upon this verse I loved the idea of soaring like an eagle. I had spent half my life packing boxes and moving to another new neighborhood where I had to make friends and register for another school, but rather than feeling free, it felt more like life in a glass cage. Everyone knew who I was – the new kid- But I had no idea if they would like me, ignore me or pick a fight. Soaring like an eagle in my newly found faith in Jesus seemed wonderful. With Him I could leave behind the old reality of never belonging anywhere and fly with Him to a new life.
But something strange happened with my flight plan. One day as I was soaring nicely along, out of the blue a lightning bolt struck and burned off all my feathers and I fell to the ground. But once the shock of the crash wore off, I discovered that even though that I couldn’t fly any more, Jesus was still with me! Instead of a flight plan, I found myself on a racetrack where I began to run the race of faith. Up hills and down through steep dark valleys, I found that running wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Then one day, I woke to find that my knees ached, my hips hurt, and I could only manage a slow walk. As discouragement began to set in, the Lord came, inviting me to lean on His shoulders, and reminding me that He also struggled up the path that the Father had chosen for Him. Then as we walked along together, I remembered that He also was often the new kid in town, He too had wept at the grave of a friend and understood better than I what it meant to be alone. Today I am not flying well, nor even running my race quickly, but through all that has happened I am more than ever walking slowly but surely with my Lord!
If you have had a crash and burn landing or two in your life don’t give in to despair. If you do not have the strength to run another mile, be encouraged, Jesus will walk the second mile with you. May the Lord strengthen and bless you today and keep you today as you lean on His shoulder and walk another day with Him!
In distress you called, and I delivered you; answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah Psalm 81:7 ESV
The Bible makes it quite clear that God will never tempt us or even allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to deal with it. However the scriptures are equally as clear that God does test us. He is our Good Teacher as well as our Savior and our teacher often hands out pop quizzes. In the Old Testament the children of Israel had their first test at the Red Sea and when they cried out in fear God answered, parted the waters and destroyed the Egyptian army. On reaching the safety of the far shore they had a celebration of the great victory God gave them. But just a little over a month later God set up another test for them. He had Moses lead them out from the nice oasis of Elim which came complete with springs and palm trees to a desert place called Meribah, which in Hebrew means complaining or strife. Remember that only thirty days had passed since God had miraculously parted the Red Sea. And what did they do? Pretty much the same as we do when things aren’t going right – they complained. I do not know about you who are my readers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia or Europe but I can attest that we Americans (myself included) are professional complainers. We complain about politics, money, culture, our own family and sadly even our pastors. We invent so many excuses for our weeping and wailing that I often wonder how God puts up with us. Why would He be even interested in such spoiled brats as we sometimes are? The good news is that He not only tolerates us, but He willingly and gently tests us to help us grow. You see while the children of Israel were busy belly aching about God’s travel plans, He was busy preparing to show them a miracle. He told Moses to get the people together in front of a huge rock. Maybe the muttering of the crowd stilled a bit as the people craned their necks to see what Moses was doing. They couldn’t imagine why they were gathered in front of a big rock. “How is this going to make things any better?” they wondered. Then God instructed Moses to take his staff, the same one he had held over the Red Sea when it parted and use it to strike that rock. As Moses obeyed a loud crack was heard and it split wide open and amazingly fresh beautiful water flowed out!
What a wonderful picture of the cross. Maybe because of our tendency to complain and doubt, Jesus told us to remember His death each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Jesus knows how easy it is for us to start complaining, and yet instead of giving us the punishment which we so richly deserve, He allows the blow of the staff of the law to fall across His own shoulders. He was pieced for our miserable complaining and unbelief and from His side flowed a healing stream of blood that quenches our thirst in a way that no water on earth could do. What a wonderful Savior we serve! What a blessed and gentle Teacher. He brings us through the times of testing at the rock so that we can learn and believe and walk closer than ever by His side!
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27 KJV
After we received the news that my wife’s sister was given only weeks to live, I spent the night tossing and turning. It was not that I was not a Christian or that I did not know God’s promises of peace but transferring that peace from my head to my heart was something I just did not know how to do in that moment. And then Jesus came. No, I did not hear a voice or see any shining light; but suddenly I just knew that my shepherd was walking alongside me. Suddenly the rod and staff of His word comforted my heart.
“My peace I give you.” Imagine the peace which Jesus had when He slept in the storm, or when He meekly accepted arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. That is the same peace that He is now giving to you and I. We are not just getting a cheap imitation or a lower cost version. Jesus is giving us the real thing. He has promised us the exact same peace that He had with the Father. Notice also, that Jesus told us that He wasn’t giving this peace to us in the way the world gives. He won’t offer us something temporary, or ask for us to give it back. His gift is eternal and unconditional just like our salvation!
Maybe your battle is different than ours, but wherever you are He will come. He knows everything we are facing and He tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” And then His peace becomes ours!