Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11,20c; 1 Cor 9:16-23; Mark 1:29:39
‘Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told from the beginning?… they shall renew their strength, those who run will not grow weary, walk and not grow faint’. ‘They will mount with wings like eagles!’
The power of this language is palpable to me. It holds a personal connection to be sure. A decade or so ago we experienced some trials with our oldest boy’s health. It was an extremely taxing time for me. I feel anxiety in my current life some there is no doubt, but it is nothing compared to the sustained panic that I traversed during those few months. All the chemicals and electrical signals that bombard the body were highly active. I would walk around often, pleading with God. And one Sunday at Broad River Community Church, Tracy Jessup was preaching to us, and this is the passage he taught from. It was one of those words that feels as though a laser is focused right into your soul. It was for me that day.
I read the passages from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL if you’re hip) last week so I could be pondering them. At first it was obvious what the thrust of the teaching was for me. It was to combine this passage from Isaiah and the one from Mark 1 which talks about Jesus going around and healing folks, and draw from these two the need for resting in Providence. And it’s true. That’s a good place to rest. Have you not heard! I mention in many of my posts about my struggle with resting in that place. I struggle. I believe, but constantly need help in my unbelief.
Through the week though Psalm 147 popped up a few times in the daily readings and I began to consider the words that the “LORD gathers up the outcasts of Israel”, that the LORD heals and binds up the wounds of the brokenhearted. And the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians are about becoming all things to all people. Putting aside his freedom in Christ–or better yet recognizing what that freedom really means… not freedom to do what one wants, but freedom from all the things that keep you from being the truly human being you were made to be… Anyway, Paul is saying that he becomes weak for the weak and so on and meeting folks where they are. For their sake. For the sake of winning them to the gospel, the great news, of hope and life and peace and patience and goodness and gentleness and love that is found in the Christ.
And then I thought about the folks today who think they are the outcasts even though they are really, it would seem, the ones doing the casting out. If you have ears then hear… But dang it. Who am I to decide whether what someone perceives is just or not. Surely the gospel offers them peace as well. Surely Jesus would go about healing them as well. After all, maybe I’m the one who needs the healing if I’m constantly thinking it’s all those other folks who are the ones who are sick. Feel me?
To wrap up, it struck me as I was reading this morning, that all of these threads are combined in the fabric of moving beyond myself. My Self. Seeing the Eternal as the real and not my temporary struggles. Don’t get me wrong the temporary struggles are real, and I would argue necessary and beautiful even, but when they get taken out of the context of the Ultimate Life and Glory of the Christ then I can get sucked into my self. And seeing the outsider, the outcast, the brokenhearted… really seeing them, you know? Seeing them as sharing in my humanity. Connected. And therefore doing and being all I can to welcome and comfort and hear and love those who are not me. Moving beyond the confines of my self.
I’ll leave you with the words of Wendell Berry which sums up what I’m attempting to say:
“No individual life is an end in itself. One can live fully only by participating fully in the succession of the generations, in death as well as in life. Some would say (and I am one of them) that we can live fully only by making ourselves as answerable to the claims of eternity as to those of time.”
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.