Lift your Eyes up with Optimism
by Damien Tann, February 2022. (Damien lives in Kaniva in the West Wimmera)
"Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 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. He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:26-31 (NRSV))
I had hoped, maybe you had too, that when Victoria’s state-wide lockdowns lifted, that hope would be restored.
In far-western Victoria, we who were ‘locked’ in our homes and then locked out of South Australia would be free to travel, free to visit, free to shop, and free to work without having to look over our shoulders for the “10km radius Police” or the interstate border guards. So the policing has indeed lifted, but our emotions have not.
In rural Australia, we may no longer feel the crushing weight from the state capitals but have been left crushed by what was done to us during the early twenties.
This passage from the Hebrews Traditions of scripture speaks of flight and running and freedom and grace; it speaks of God’s presence among the downtrodden and the hope of being restored to the heights and lengths of flying and sprinting. But this seems more like destination thinking to us than it does presence; we are not yet in the air, nor even on the road at this point in the year, even if God has promised this for the future.
But Isaiah was not writing about the future; in fact, Isaiah was not writing about time at all; he was writing about grace and the character of God. So the one who lifts is the one who is here: Lift up your eyes on high and see. Lift your eyes up with optimism and hope.
With the LORD as our God, we have the strength not only for now but also for the long walk out of Exile and back to our rightful Jerusalem.
We have not been abandoned; salvation is here; the creator of the Universe is also the motivator of history, and the evidence of God’s power to direct is seen in the evidence of God’s power to create in the first place.
What I find encouraging in this passage in this season is not the promise that one day soon we will fly; that it is “one day soon” or that we will “fly”, but that God is so present in this place that God sees the weariness and exhaustion of even the youths amongst us, let alone the rest of us decrepit fogeys, and that God sees our greatest need is for restoration.
It is not altitude or even attitude expected of us; it is the acknowledgement of our need for someone to love us and that that someone is the LORD Emmanuel.
Where do you need God’s renewing?