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“Soaring Like Eagles”|Isaiah 40:21-26; 28-31
“Soaring Like Eagles”
Isaiah 40:21-26; 28-31
Let me start this sermon by asking you a very important question. Have you ever wondered why our national emblem is not the oyster?
This creature is amazing. It has no problems, no worries, and most of all, no hassles. The oyster is blessed with absolute economic and social security.
It never requires a home because its home rests on its back. It requires no other defense from its enemies. It simply closes the door and waits.
No work and no toil. And when the oyster is hungry, it just opens its mouth and food rushes in. What a life!!! Complete freedom from want. No tough decisions, no sacrifices and no work.
But as you well know, we did not choose the oyster to represent our beloved country. Instead, we chose the eagle.
And as opposed to the oyster, the eagle has been given no home, so it must build its nest up high where its eggs are protected.
Daily, the eagle must battle the elements of wind, rocks, hail and snow.
To eat, it must fly, search and capture. To survive it must be strong and alert. Threatened by storms and danger, this proud bird grows stronger and independent.
And when it comes time to teach it’s young to fly, the mother eagle will push them out of the nest, spiraling downward as they fight to strengthen their wings.(sputtering)
And just about the time they are about to crash into the ground, the mother eagle will swoop down with its giant wingspan (whoosh, whoosh) and pick up its child for lesson 2.
And the mother will continue this process over and over until one day, the young eagle will stop its sputtering on its way to earth and stretch its wings (whoosh, whoosh) and rise to the sky.
Friends, you too have undergone a period of stretching your wings. When Pastor Larry announced his retirement, you found Randy Becker to step in and keep this church flying high.
And while all this was happening with you, God was preparing my wife and I to stretch our wings in ways we never dreamed possible.
Day after day, through God’s leading, the Holy Spirit was guiding us to grow stronger and to be ready to fly to a new venture here in Key West.
So that we can soar to new heights and challenges together. The scripture read this morning is one of my favorite passages in all the Bible and it tells us how we too can rise and soar like eagles.
The prophet Isaiah paints an insightful picture of our awesome God. He tells us how God stretches out the heavens like a canopy. The Hebrew word canopy is sookaw and literally means a shelter or a tent.
Can you picture God building his tent around the universe putting one stake 200 million miles over there and one 150 million miles over there. The canopy is a picture of shelter and comfort.
Isaiah then tells us how God brings the princes of this world to nothing by a simple breath. He tells us how God ushers out the stars one by one and calls each of them by name, orion.
Can you picture God ushering out the stars like a homecoming king ushering out his date and setting each star in its place.
He then tells us how he gives strength to the weary, and power to the weak. He reminds us that even young people will grow tired and weary and stumble and fall.
But then he adds: But they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
The Hebrew word for wait is the word kawvah which means to bind or twist together. God is asking us not just to pray but to bind ourselves together for one purpose.
Waiting on the Lord will tie us with God in ways we never imagined. Waiting on the Lord is very important.
Do you realize we spend half of our lives just waiting. In the best selling business book of 1990, Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr. Seuss, we are reminded just how much waiting we actually do:
Like, waiting for a train to go or a bus to come or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or no or waiting for your hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting. But how often do we wait on the Lord. How many times a day, a week or month do we stand before God to pray, to listen, to wait.
To say to God, “God, teach me something new, enable me to fly in ways I’ve never flown. It’s taking 5 or 10 or 30 minutes a day with God.
The easiest way to talk to God is when you are waiting at a light, for an appointment, anywhere. Use the extra time you are waiting to hang out with God.
Friends, it is in the waiting periods of our lives where God begins to build our faith. We have to remember that it is God alone who sees the whole picture and we have to trust somehow, someway that he is in control.
Over the last several months we have been waiting on God to see where he would lead us. We spoke to a large church in Chicago and another church in Iowa.
We weren’t very keen on cold weather and so we sat down and said, “God, now what?” “Now what do we do?”
God said, “wait, just wait, and as we were waiting a woman named Linda Cunningham called.
When I got the call from Linda, I phoned my wife and said, “Honey, I got a call today.” She said, “Was it God?” I said, “no, it was Linda Cunningham but she sounded like she knew God.
Six weeks later we flew to Fort Lauderdale, drove here to Key West and the rest is history. Friends, when we wait on the Lord each day, God promises to renew our strength.
Too often we try and renew our strength all at once. For the last several years, we have been living in an apartment building in Little Italy, San Diego.
The building has a really nice gym. And every January 3rd or 4th for the last four years, I watch hordes of people pour into the gym to try and renew their strength all in one day.
I watch them climb onto the stairmaster and set the adjustment to Mt. Everest and begin the ascent.
Approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds into their program, fatigue sets in and their face begins to blush and within a few minutes they are too tired to do anymore.
Yet they continue to overdo and within a few weeks they stop coming.
And what many of them don’t realize is that getting into shape requires us to consistently work out to keep our muscles toned and over a period of time we will increase our strength.
It’s the same way in the Christian Life. As we daily wait before the Lord, to read the Word, pray and listen, God will increase our strength and revitalize our faith.
So that we can soar like eagles. Like Michael Jordan, whose 9th grade basketball coach told him he didn’t believed Michael had the talent to play the game yet became perhaps the greatest player in NBA history.
Or Linda Down. Who is Linda Down you might ask. Well, Linda Down was a 26 year old New Yorker who began an exercise program to lose weight. She started with sit ups and then began long walks every day.
And when she saw that there was a women’s mini-marathon in Central Park in May of 1982, she decided to try it.
Linda finished last in that 6.2 mile race — for she was born with cerebral palsy and could only walk and run while using crutches.
“I guess I’ll always finish last.” she said. But Linda kept working out, walking every day and strengthening her body.
In October of that same year, the New York Marathon was scheduled and the race intrigued Linda, and she began training by running down 5th Avenue. What a sight that must have been.
The time came for the big event. The New York City Marathon began at 10:30 a.m. October 24, 1982 on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Linda began at the back of the pack and by the time she got over the bridge no one else was in sight.
Moving the crutches like ski poles, and pushing off with her legs, Linda fell 6 times.
But along the way, people cheered and that made her feel good. A Hispanic family had driven over to meet her at the 20 mile banner and they all stood around their car and clapped.
A little boy shouted, “C’mon, you can make it!” Linda was numb with pain, but with that kind of support, she had to make it. And clomping down the street she went.
Many hours later it became dark. Cleanup groups had begun taking down the barricades along the streets. But they soon discovered the race was not over.
In the distance they could hear a continuing clomp, clomp, clomp.
And the workers stood in awe as they watched a lone woman, on aluminum crutches that glinted under the street lights make her way to the finish line. And they went wild cheering her on.
Of the 15,876 runners who entered, 13,610 finished. Linda, wearing number W831 on the front of her purple sweatsuit, crossed the finish line shortly after 9:30 at night.
She came in a full 4 hours after the next to last runner. Her time: 11 hours 54 seconds. Linda’s arms were black and blue from the jarring of the crutches.
Her body ached. She was sweaty and dizzy. Yet, the next evening, she was on cloud nine.
The President of the US telephoned and invited Linda to lunch at the White House.
She then began receiving letters from people telling how she had given them inspiration. A woman stopped her on the street and asked, “Aren’t you the one who ran in the marathon?” Linda said, yes.
The woman said she had been suffering from depression, but seeing Linda run gave her the added drive to rise above it. Soaring like eagles.
You know the eagle may have a tough life, but like Linda, it’s better for it.
We may even have a tougher life or face more disheartening situations, but given a chance, God can renew our strength and enable us to soar like eagles in the face of adversity.
God can do that — given a chance. But as Isaiah wrote, it only happens to those who wait on the Lord, not to those who clam up like oysters.
Often, little can happen in a life closed to God’s energizing power. So much can happen to those who learn to wait.
So will PCPC succeed? Yes, we will indeed. According to Dr. Seuss, it is 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed. Friends, with God on our side, we’ll move mountains.
So be your name Cunningham, or Cintron, Hankamp, Catena, McDonald or Reynolds, we’re off to great places, today is our day.
Your wings are waiting, what are you waiting for, let’s be on our way, Amen.
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