Mount up!

Mount upI must have a sentimental streak within me because there are some items (probably to my wife’s frustration) that I never seem to throw out. I came across one the other day – a badge which is now nearly 40 years old. It’s a Campaigners badge.  Campaigners was the uniformed organisation I attended in the church I grew up in. Each week we had to polish our badges with Brasso (I can still smell it now) and it would be inspected by our ‘Chief’ who liked to ensure we all had clean hands and shiny badges. This has made me the man I am today!

You can see from the bottom of the badge that the Campaigners motto for the Boy Junos was Mount Up and the emblem was the eagle.  This comes from Isaiah: ‘Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ (Isaiah 40:30-31)

I remember being given a colouring sheet of an eagle with this verse underneath (actually I probably still have that somewhere too) and memorising it. I’m grateful for the leaders who gave it to me because now this passage helps me a great deal.

God tells us that even those who are supposed to have the most energy – younger people – even they run out of energy. If the young run out of energy eventually, then the rest of us will all the more. This is in contrast with God himself, who never runs out of energy. Isaiah 40:28 says that ‘he will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.’ God’s energy levels never waver. He is like the burning bush in Exodus 3, which burns and burns, without consuming any fuel.

Many people are weary due to the fall-out of the corona virus. Front-line workers are under enormous pressure. Many of their colleagues are off, increasing their workload. Some are working from home, whilst trying to teach and occupy their children, now off school. Others are wearied by the isolation of the lock-down, which takes its own unique emotional toll on us. Even watching the news can be an enervating experience as the grim facts from around the world seems to worsen by the day.

There is good news: God gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak (v29). So, if we lack strength within ourselves, and God has an unlimited supply, how do we go about receiving that strength from the God who offers it to us?

The strength is promised to those who ‘hope in the Lord’. (v31)  There seem to be 2 steps here:
First, we come to realise that we are not self-sufficient, and desperately need God’s help. Did Jesus not say ‘without me you can do nothing’? (John 15:5) If we are those who look inside ourselves for wisdom and strength, we will never hope in the LORD! Perhaps, then, feeling tired and weary in these strange times will be a blessing to us, if it leads us to behold our God, and to look for strength in him.

Second, we need to place our hope in God. This does not involve sitting and doing nothing – we need to pray and read our Bibles, patiently but expectantly looking to God to help us. It involves trusting that God is the only one who sees the full picture regarding this virus (and, indeed, all our circumstances) and that it is he and he alone who has grace to share with us.

Are you feeling weary?  Don’t rely on yourself, or money, or your spouse, or a friend to provide that which only God can truly give. God is offering us supernatural strength. Acknowledge your need of it day by day, and then, and only then, will we experience what it means to ‘soar on wings like eagles’.

I’ve been privileged to watch eagles in flight a few times, seeing how they use the thermals of the wind to soar high in the sky. Can we really be like them? What is impossible to do in our own strength, we can do as God enables us. The big question is, are we asking him for this supply of grace? Are we praying each day that the Holy Spirit would give us the spiritual, emotional, and physical wherewithal to live, at home and at work, in a way which pleases and honours him? Often, I do not have because I do not ask.(James 4:2)

The eagle has the wind; we have the Word of God, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. This virus has brought some of us responsibilities we have never had before. It has brought new pressures, new concerns and new opportunities. As we get up each morning, let’s ask our heavenly Father to give us supernatural strength. We don’t deserve it but God is generous.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

Please don’t tell my wife, but I still have my Campaigners uniform hidden in the wardrobe.