Real Soaring

Isaiah 40:28-31

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
    Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
   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.

I’ve read this passage many times and often found it very encouraging. But as I struggled and pushed myself through Christmas program directing, shopping, baking, wrapping, and entertaining in spite of pain, weakness and extreme fatigue, I read it again. I wasn’t encouraged. In fact, it really bothered me.

This is what I was thinking to myself: I trust God and think I do an okay job of waiting on Him. Yet I’m weary all the time. And I certainly can’t run. Sometimes I can’t even walk.

So I was annoyed at God’s words and having this little tantrum in my mind. Even though I know I am blessed to be able to walk at all. And see. And hear. And use my hands. And breathe. Yet, in my human weakness, I was still having a momentary meltdown.

Until God opened my eyes. You see, He is very good at handling tantrums. He speaks softly and gently to our hearts. If we repent of our pride and selfishness, we are able to hear the truth. And, well, for me, the truth is this: I know from experience with my three boys that children interpret things very literally. And I was reading this like a kindergartner.

God is referring to sustaining the human spirit, which could manifest in physical strength but is definitely not limited to that. When we trust in God and not ourselves, He is promising to give us a spirit of tenacity, endurance and increased faith. We are able to spiritually “soar like eagles” because we believe we are loved unimaginably and that there is purpose to our lives and everything that happens. We may feel extremely physically or emotionally tired and incapable. But deeper trust, rising hope and renewed perseverance will come to us from the Lord if we would only wait a minute instead of charging ahead in our own limited spiritual strength.

If this interpretation seemed so totally obvious to you as you read the above passage, I give you full permission to have a chuckle over my elementary moment. I don’t mind admitting that any wisdom I might possess comes entirely from God.

But, for me, I’m lying here recovering from too much “pushing myself” through the holiday. And it is wonderful to realize that I can still “soar like an eagle” even though I’m having difficulty getting myself a glass of water.

What was your hardship this past Christmas? What is it that made you feel physically or emotionally exhausted? Perhaps you also struggle with chronic pain or disease. Maybe it was your first Christmas after the loss of a loved one. Or maybe you spent the holiday apart from family because of divorce, death, broken relationships or mere distance. I cannot claim to relate to all of these incredibly difficult circumstances. But I know someone who can.

Jesus traveled around spreading the Good News and was often rejected. Because he was God in the flesh, He experienced hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue. Jesus was betrayed by His disciple, Judas, and the people whom He came to save and heal. Jesus was denied and abandoned by His disciples as He went to the cross. As He took on the sin of the entire world and endured the excruciating pain and shame of Roman crucifixion, He experienced physical and emotional stress that we cannot truly comprehend. His own Father looked away as His Son became sin and received the penalty of death.

Jesus did all of that for me. Someone who admits annoyance, albeit temporary, at the words of the God of the universe! Because after all He’s done for me, I still want my own way at times. And because feeling sorry for myself clouded my ability to understand and believe truth. But remembering all He did and all that He is and believing it was for me, well, that is better than walking. Better than running. And that is real soaring.

He also did it for you. Grace be with you, my friends.


The Name of Stars

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4

I gazed at the stars while I laid next to my four-year old in his twin bed, waiting for him to fall asleep. (Yes I still “lay down” with my kids at bed time, rubbing their backs or just holding them close. After all, they are only little for a little while.) Okay, they weren’t real stars. It was only Twilight Turtle projecting illuminated five point shapes across the ceiling.

But, still, the clever scene got me thinking about stars and, subsequently, the glory of God as their Creator. According to some online resources, there are an estimated 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone. That is a LOT and that is only ONE galaxy. The number quoted for the estimated number in the Universe is beyond our comprehension.

Are you ready for this? God has named them ALL. You may have read quickly over the verse at the top of this post, but pause and take a minute to really think about it.

Wait there’s more! I came upon another verse about God’s distinctive relationship with His stars.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26

Billions of stars. Billions of names. And not ONE is missing.

Our God is personal and relational. He speaks to the stars, calling them out by the very names He has taken time to give them.

Our God is methodical and intentional. He has not only named the stars, but He also brings them out in an orderly fashion, one by one.

Our God doesn’t make mistakes or grow weary. None of His stars will ever go missing because God dropped the ball or became too weak to hold the Universe together. No star will ever “burn out” because God is a little low on power. (Stars shine by burning hydrogen into helium, a process which God created and sustains) He is mighty and powerful beyond our understanding.

We don’t know the particular names God has given to His stars. But, collectively, I think their name is Glory.

I hesitate to draw any conclusive application to us since the stars are so clearly about God and His renown, undoubtedly deserving of our praise and honor. But I can’t help pointing something out. This kind of strength, wisdom and individual attention to detail are the character traits of a God who’s promises can be trusted. And He lovingly promises this:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
What kind of trial are you facing today? God is bigger, stronger and He knows your name. Grace be with you, my friends.