10/1/2020 Isaiah 40:29-31 29 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. In ancient Biblical days, and throughout history, people have believed that their problems were so great that even God did not know what to do. Some people have believed and believe today that their lives and choices are hidden from God and that they somehow don’t receive the justice due them. Their trials are ignored by God and their concerns are nonconcerns to God. Our Bible verse reproves those erred beliefs. God’s omniscience is unfathomable; our limited human mental capacity cannot grasp the mind or consciousness of the Holy One of Existence. It is only our lack of awareness, and inability to ‘wait for the Lord’, that deprives us from seeing how Christ moves through our lives. Truly, to take advantage of all the benefits that God promises is simple. In Psalm 91:14-16, God tells us what is expected: “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Because we love God, we are protected and rescued from our trials. We are not spared our challenges, for it is important that we experience them in order to learn, grow, and become stronger. When we call upon God, we are heard. As we acknowledge and trust God, we are delivered, satisfied, saved, and honored. There is a basic expectation by God: that we love, trust, and spend time in the Presence of God. We are to focus our minds on God and be aware of Spirit in an around us. We are to ask Christ for guidance. Although our connection with God is spiritual and is beyond the physical world, it still begins with our physical minds. We must overcome the attraction of the human and worldly influences and heed the call of Spirit. The Bible uses the language of actual examples from real life as well as wonderful spiritual metaphors and allegories to describe God and our relationship with God. I particularly like the eagle simile in Isaiah because it describes how God attends to our humanity. When we wait upon the Lord our strength is renewed; we will soar on wings like eagles, and we will walk and not faint. In other words, when we move into prayer and experience the presence of God, we are filled with strength, courage, confidence, vitality, and hope. We are transformed and renewed as faith, wisdom, joy, peace, and love flow through us. In Exodus 19: 3-4 we read: 3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called out to him from the mountain and said, "Give these instructions to the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle's wings. We are lifted by the Grace of God, just as the eagle is lifted when its wings catch the winds. The scientists in the room tell us that the metaphor of the eagle being lifted by the wind needs further explanation. As posited by Daniel Bernoulli in 1738, an eagle is lifted by the wind above the wings, not under. So too, we are lifted by the winds of Spirit from a higher level of consciousness than we are presently living; it is the winds of spirit above our wings that creates the loving lift we need. The more we surrender to Spirit, letting go of our egoistic desire to control and manage our own lives unassisted, the more easily we ascend beyond the effects of our earthly journey. As we become trained, practiced, and experienced in the ways of life, learning the ways of love, release and forgiveness, God raises us to ever higher levels. When we get tired, God is always near, ready to lift us, carry us, and guide us. One of the blessings we receive from Spirit to aid us in our ongoing attempts to rise above our earthly struggles is through friends and spouses. Special people enter our lives that come and go on a varied schedule. Some stay and become our life partner, our husband or wife, our close or distant friend or companion, or a blessed soul who is only in our lives for a short time. These individuals bring a blessing to us. They strengthen us, awaken us, teach us, encourage us, and lift us up. It is not ours to demand from them, but to love them, accept them and their lessons. The Bible describes how friends should act. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 teaches this behavior: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Ecclesiastes 4:10 - “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Proverbs 27:9 shares this: “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Others have found meaning in friends. Jon Katz, American journalist, wrote this insight: "I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff." “Friends are the family you choose,” writes Jess C. Scott. William Shakespeare wrote, “A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” Our spouse, family, and our friends are part of the Spiritual Winds that draw us ever upward, and we are part of the wind that lifts others. We are the power, and their hope, and the courage. We are the dance and the play, even in the face of disappointment, disaster, and division. We may never escape the challenges of life, but with God we don’t have to fear them or wonder if we have the strength to endure or the courage to face them. Christ says in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When we come unto Christ, in prayer, in our minds, and in our hearts, our burdens are lifted; our perspectives change; fear and exhaustion are relieved, and we feel younger and unstressed. God’s Spirit is within each of us, and in Spirit there is only radiant, dynamic, ageless life, energy, and joy. Our mere thoughts of God stir up that truth within us and we feel vitally alive, strong, healthy, and enthusiastic. Spirit lifts us with friends, and with change. We are always entering new phases of life. As it is often said, “God is not done with us yet.” There are always new possibilities and opportunities. We must always be ready to say, “Hello,” and always ready to say “Goodbye.” Sometimes it hurts to say ‘goodbye’, especially when it has been something good. Today is the last Sunday that our friends Dave McAllister and Dick Beamer will have with us. They are moving to Minnesota, where Dick has family. This is a sad day in some respects. But in other ways, this is a time of excitement, new opportunities, a new phase has begun. We will miss the presence of Dave and Dick; we will miss their words, attitudes, hearts, souls, and friendship. But we have faith that they are being lifted up in this newness. God says in Isaiah 43:19, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” As we have been lifted by Spirit moving through the lives and hearts of Dave and Dick, we send them off with a heartfelt “Goodbye”. Just a note on the phrase “good-bye’. Some may not know that ‘goodbye’ is an archaic contraction for “God be with you,” first written in 1573. It is not a sentiment of sadness or remorse; it is an uplifting prayer of faith. It is the acknowledgement that the one entering their new phase is surrounded by the Light and Love of God. It is the idea that not only does God go with you, but so do we. So to Dick and Dave, God’s love, and our love, accompany you into your newness. We lift you up with our love. As we allow ourselves to be gathered up by God, love flows. It is so close; we are so close to the incredible peace, love, joy, strength, and majesty of God. We only need to keep hold of loving and positive thoughts about God, about ourselves, about our friends, and everyone we encounter. When we can do that, we can look upon the depressing and disdainful activities of humanity with love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. We are more and more grateful for the Creator and all of Creation. God gives us friends and new opportunities. Our friends let us know where home is, where our heart is, and where our values lie so that we can choose between the true and the false, the just and the unjust. God also gives us newness, new phases of growth. These are our wings, and with wings we learn to soar into wider and still wider worlds of understanding, God-consciousness, and give us the ability to apply what they have been taught. The wind of Spirit is blowing, swirling in us, around us, and through us. We can feel the wind in our confusion, as we wrestle with our old ways and consider what Christ is asking of us: to love God, and love the people who love us, as well as our enemies. We can feel this wind as we reach out to others and help them even though it may be outside of our comfort zone. We can feel this wind of Spirit as we release the fears, hurts, and pains of the past and allow God’s comforting breeze to carry forgiveness into our hearts. When that thought blows into our heart, mind, and soul, and as we spread our wings of awareness we are lifted up; raised higher and higher, above all the dilemmas, confusion, and challenges that the world uses to keep us ego-bound. My prayer is that we live a life of joy, courage, strength, and peace. I pray that we will appreciate our friends, spouses, family, and other close souls in our lives. They ground us in love. I pray that we are fully aware that God is always with us, and that we are protected, guided, and are being trained. I pray that we face our changes and new phases with faith, courage, and know when it is time to say goodbye. Above all, I pray that we know that we are loved, and that the winds of Spirit flow over us, lifting us, carrying us over all of life’s difficulties as we abandon our earthly tethers, spread our wings, and soar.