“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
That conjunction makes all the difference.
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall.”
That’s how we feel as we gasp our first breath in 1965. We look ahead and that dreadful something called “future” intoxicates our brains with fear.
Our femurs quiver and collapse under the prospect of the future.
Isaiah is very artistic. The Holy Spirit portrays a haggard crowd. Here is one whose blanched face reflects his unseeing eyes. Look at that young man bent over and trembling, he is shaking his head. Scattered around them, like logs for the mill, lie others. Enough has been said.
What a hopeless picture; they are all young people.
Do you see yourself among them?
It is a picture of man without God. At best he is altogether vanity. Graphically it describes the deep sense of our weakness at the possibility of facing a new year, alone. We grow weary, faint, and fall.
Slowly the fingers of dawn unveil a different scene.
Look with me, for it is exhilarating.
Silhouetted against the fiery glow of a better day, hovering higher than the jagged peaks, is an eagle. The Holy Spirit calls our attention to him.
That is a better picture, for God is able to perform great changes upon weak and fallen men.
The flying eagle symbolizes the surge of power that lifts one up high above dangers. His bodily appearance conveys the secret of that power. Many of the larger species of the eagle which are common in the region of the Mediterranean are three and a half feet high and have a wing span of seven feet. No bird can out fly an eagle. With outstretched wings he is known to soar thousands of feet high, and, when determined, he can outdistance any foe.
At no time is this more true than in the spring: of the year after the eagle has undergone the molting process. The winter season has its effect upon him; his plumage dries out, his head appears bleak withhold age, his whole body becomes weak. Only after he sheds his wind-ripped and sun-bleached coat and becomes “renewed” does he mount up to such great heights. The fresh air of spring infuses in him such determination for the “heights” that he builds his nests on the highest cliff and teaches his young to “mount up with wings.”
God preaches to us through the eagle.
He tells us how to soar through this new year like an eagle.
“Wait upon Jehovah.”
Standing on the threshold of a new year it is good for us to be sober. The hilarious “Happy New Years” of an inebriated throng reveal to us the poverty of a world that resorts to “spirits” as an escape from the burden of the future. How blessed it is to gather in the House of our God and be assured by the Holy Spirit “we shall mount up with wings as eagles.”
There is no question, but 1965 will produce many events that will cause us from a natural point of view to become weary and faint. The very figure of an eagle implies this: he soars high above all dangers that lurk upon the lower parts of the earth. As children of God, we do not expect to be free from problems, nor to escape the afflictions of this present time. God does not promise us such an escape.
Pause a moment and look back. This past year produced many changes. Take a glimpse into the family picture album, read some pages from your diary, and we will come to one conclusion: we have experienced changes in every sphere of life. It is the time of year to scratch some names from our old church directories and add others. Altogether they spell days of joy, but no less seasons of sorrow. Sometimes our hearts rang with the sublime assurance that all is well, other times our hearts trembled within.
The future will be no different.
But, it is easier to look back than ahead.
It is one thing to have experienced hardships, it is quite another thing to anticipate them.
Let’s admit that we feel exactly as Isaiah describes: weak, fainting, and falling. Remember, this describes the child of God as he looks at himself, being a mere man. We have a calling in this world, a duty which demands walking and running. God calls us to pursue the narrow road. We must press on in that race. It is manifest in our homes by the bringing forth and nurturing of the covenant seed, in our churches by the ministry of the gospel, in our, schools by the daily in instruction of our children in harmony with His Word; in our country by being loyal Christian citizens and in every sphere of our daily life. That is difficult work. Our flesh doesn’t care for that kind of walking; we like the easy road which is broad and leadeth to destruction. Running on the narrow road brings opposition from the world round about us and from all those: who hate the testimony of those who love the truth. Opposition makes us feel even more weak.
This world doesn’t improve a bit. We have changed the number from 1964 to 1965, bringing us even closer to the return of our Lord. The nearer that end draws upon us, the more the church will encounter difficulties. It may not be long and the witness of the gospel shall cease, and persecution in our land shall assume a more violent form. Still we are called to walk and to run toward the goal of the heavenly life.
Do you feel strong?
Wait upon Jehovah. That will produce a renewal. What the molting process does to the eagle, our waiting upon Jehovah will do for us. By the grace of’ God, our eyes will cease to focus upon our weak selves and rest upon Jehovah. He will make us “mount up with wings as eagles.”
Jehovah is His covenant name. He is the great I Am That I Am. He it is that promised to bring forth His people from the bondage of Egypt, and performed it. He it is that never changes in His faithfulness to His people. Nothing can thwart His promises. He, who made the heavens and the earth, has a definite plan for all history, and He has the power and will to bring that plan to perfect consummation. He beholds His people as they dwell upon the earth, and for their sakes directs all creation, governs all nations, controls all the activities of Satan and his hosts, yea, averts all evil or turns it to our profit.
Above all, He is the God of Jesus.
How blessed it is to wait upon Him!
This implies that we desire His instruction as we pursue our pathway through life. He humbles us to the dust and reveals to us how blind we are and how perverse in our own way. He teaches us that our way is not His way, what we desire for the flesh is the opposite of what He wants us to do. We love money, we love fame, we love ease of life, we love security in this world. By nature we love it so much we are willing to deny all things for that which perisheth. God’s way is so different. He calls us to fight against and overcome our sinful flesh. He reveals to us His law which demands that we love Him and our neighbor for His sake. He gives us direction in His holy commandments, forbidding us to trust in things, but to trust in Him alone. He instructs us to flee from that which is evil and to cling to that which is good. It is in the sphere of this law alone that we can truly walk and run through life. Anything else is death.
In the second place, to wait upon Jehovah includes our turning to Him for the strength necessary to be faithful in our calling. Isaiah cries out in the preceding context, “Hast thou not known? . . . the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” You see the contrast? On the other hand, weak children of God, who, overcome by the very thought of the future, grow weary, faint, and fall down. We would cry out that it is too much. God’s way is too high, we cannot attain unto it, God expects the impossible. Now we turn to the real source of our strength, Jehovah. Like a fountain pouring forth sweet waters to enlighten the eyes of the weary sojourner in the desert, so it is for us who drink of the fountains of God’s grace. Through the means of the preaching and the sacraments, He nourishes us: exhorting us to the way, supplying us with the energy to press on, encouraging us when we would seemingly be overcome in defeat. “He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might he increaseth strength,” vs. 29.
Finally, that waiting includes the conscious act of placing our whole life in His hands and trusting that, whatever betides, it will be for our good. There is no power other than God’s sovereign power. There is no will other than His, and nothing can frustrate it. All that will happen in 1965 will come from Jehovah in perfect accord with His divine will. We must learn to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.” James 4:15. It is good to rest in His will.
As the Holy Spirit applies this word upon our hearts, we experience a transformation. Daily we are lifted up from our “fainting” and strengthened to walk and run. Walking consists in the daily routine of life which can be the most taxing and thus cause us to “faint.” Running pertains to the extra duties and challenges we face, they often cause us to be “weary” and wear us down. In every circumstance of life we are assured by God Himself, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles.” As we see our lives in proper focus, anticipation of the future will not bring us down in hopeless fear; we will press on in the strength of our God.
Walk and run we must! We may not sit down.
Our calling is clearly revealed in the Word of God. The path is laid out before us. In spite of every evil that would try to stop us, we must press on. Our homes must be covenant homes even though every assault is directed upon covenant parents to make them worldly. Our daily occupation must reflect the spirit of our Lord and recognize the authority of our employer eventhough every attempt will be made to intimidate the children of God who seek to maintain the Lordship of Christ in every sphere of life. We must fulfill our calling to instruct our children in His fear even though there may be all kinds of opposition. We know our calling to preach the gospel even though thousands are attempting to kill the “two witnesses” upon the streets of Jerusalem. We know our calling to spend our leisure moments in the wholesome development of body and soul even though the hordes beckon us with tempting siren songs of pleasure. We know our calling to be subject to our President and our Judges even thoughsuch submission may mean banishment and death.
Walk and run!
Yes, in self we would be weary and faint.
Wait upon Jehovah!
Mount up with wings as eagles! Mount up ever higher, reaching for the summit in glory.