Week Six – Receiving Fresh Strength - Rising up as on the wings of an eagle
As we draw towards the end of Lent, we have heard God’s call to spend time in the wilderness. To face our fears and hear God’s promise of comfort and God’s calling to be comforters to others. We have spent time thinking about the wonder and immensity and grandeur of God and God’s creation. Now in this final week exploring Isaiah chapter 40 we come to the wonderful sense that when we wait upon God, we will be give God’s strength to raise us up when we are tired and weak. Listen to these wonderful words:
‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? 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 strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 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.’
For me this image of rising up as on the wings of an eagle is one of the loveliest in scripture. An eagle is able to soar for hours in the sky, climbing high to gain a panoramic view of the surrounding land and circling slowly back down to lower altitudes. It does this by stretching wide its wings, holding them still and catching the hot air currents which gently rise. It is an incredibly efficient way of staying high in the air without the need to expend much energy.
How beautiful that the prophet noticed this, probably before there was any knowledge of thermal currents or understanding of how the eagle was able to fly seemingly so effortlessly. But he was able to make the connection and notice, probably from personal experience, that this was what it was like to be refreshed and resourced and renewed by God. That when we are tired and exhausted, when we feel we have no more strength or energy, if we rest in God and trust in God, He will lift us up and carry us.
What the eagle understands instinctively is that unless it stops flapping it cannot possibly catch the rising thermal. Unless it trusts and rests on the thermal it will get nowhere except under its own strength.
I make no claim that this is easy but when we wait upon God, when we stop trying to do everything by our own strength, to control and manage everything, and instead see where God leads things may begin to change for us. How we will experience this will be different for each one of us. For some of us it might be receiving help and support from someone else. For some of us it might simply be about being less demanding of ourselves. For all of us, I believe, it is a calling to pray and wait regularly on God.
But however we receive it, God the creator and sustainer of all that is, will hold us, and raise us up in that wonderful Being that is God’s life. So let us cease our striving and relax into God’s love and peace.