An end to weary wandering.

Isaiah’s song is sung at camp – it is sung by old and young with great hope:

(sing) Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength

they shall mount up on wings as eagles

they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint…

(and then follows the prayer that we add…)

help us Lord, help us Lord, in your way.

A great way to remember a small piece of Scripture

a suitable sentiment for the people of God –

but this clever little song does not instantly help us understand

the desperate plea that the prophet makes on God’s behalf.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

Here again, the people of God have driven themselves to distraction in their distress –

their fear of abandonment – their dangerous doubt –

have conspired to drive a wedge between them and their God.

Their exile (always!) results in questions.

They have (once again) lost sight of the magnificent promise of God,

that has sustained them and motivated them for centuries,

and Isaiah does what any good prophet should do –

he uses their actions (or inaction, as the case may be) against them.

It never seems to take much to distract us from God’s promise –

but a return to faith always seems tremendously difficult.

And so a Prophet sings and writes and rages against the passions of the day –

first by offering a litany of human failure

and then, a more impressive list of divine attributes –

to remind God’s people that God is passionate for them.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The same situation exists in our time;

a time that has no use for prophetic nonsense –

a time that encourages personal indulgence –

a time of self-inflicted exile from the wonders of God / the glory of God / the presence of God.

We have accepted that a ‘look out for number one’ attitude

is considered a necessary social skill.

We have no time for God because we would rather cultivate our own god-complex –

I speak as one who knows.

We seek to make our lives perfect;

to create our own notion of ‘heaven on earth’;

we have lost faith in all but ourselves,

and since the Christian faith that we profess will not help us feel better about this sort of rebellion

it becomes optional (at best) or burdensome (more often).

The result is empty pews and frustrated congregations

(which contain people for whom faith is genuine and helpful and real…)

It is to this time – and to all people –

that Isaiah offers (again) this reminder of how things ought to be.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The God of gods – the chaos-tamer – the One who wields the creative Word –

is better, bigger and more resourceful than we can imagine.

Our own designs and plans count for nothing,

not because God doesn’t want us to be creative,

but because we are but poor imitations of the Master when it comes to creation.

The promise that stands from before time –

a promise of relationship with God (that was the beauty of ‘the garden’) –

cannot be replaced by anything we might invent.

And so Isaiah asks us to cast our minds back over all we have done

and bids us compare that to what we know of God.

The result? Listen to the argument from earlier in the chapter (Isaiah 40: 12-17)

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

and marked off the heavens with a span,

enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,

and weighed the mountains in scales

and the hills in a balance?

Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,

or as his counsellor has instructed him?

Whom did he consult for his enlightenment,

and who taught him the path of justice?

Who taught him knowledge,

and showed him the way of understanding?

Even the nations are like a drop from a bucket,

and are accounted as dust on the scales;

see, he takes up the isles like fine dust.

Lebanon would not provide fuel enough,

nor are its animals enough for a burnt-offering.

All the nations are as nothing before him;

they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

Nothing – not because our accomplishments don’t count,

but because we cannot replace the wonders of God’s creative goodness

with our own, no matter when – no matter what.

It has always been a losing game – this struggle to “leave a legacy – to make something of ourselves”

it wears us out – it brings us down – and the solution goes against our nature.

Stop it, says the prophet. Remember the pattern of your creation.

Reclaim the strength of your Redeemer –

be refreshed by the promises of God –

and become a part of the goodness God has created.

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

This is the strength offered by this faith we profess.

Not just a strength of character, or resolution of purpose.

It is the strength that comes from truly knowing

that the most powerful force we could imagine –

the inspiration behind the grand panorama of creation –

the power that brought order from chaos –

and brings Christ triumphant from the grave –

the very power of God

is strength to us in all things.

Trusting this, we need only act in that power,

and nothing will be impossible for us. Amen


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