A Journey of Faith

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My first sermon :)

I filled in today for Pastor. I was nervous (of course!), but it went well, and I enjoyed it. I still need to work on slowing down, and speaking up, but people liked what I had to say, and I even had one person say it was the perfect message for her in her life now... wow!!!! It was a great experience, and I think I need to think more about some things...
Here is the sermon I gave.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LbDkJS39Zo  (video of it on youtube)

Isaiah  40:31
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

They that wait upon the LORD...
We don't know how to wait. We live in a society of instant... instant food, instant entertainment, instant communication. Instant gratification everywhere. We have lost the skill of being patient. We are constantly looking at the clock, 'Is it my turn in line yet?' 'Is it time for my appointment yet?' 'Is the Pastor done talking yet?' We are never content to just be still and wait in the moment.
 Recently I made a long journey with my kids. For economic reasons, we drove instead of flying, lengthening the 'getting there' process considerably. The whole drive I had to fight feeling impatient. It just seemed so time consuming (and really, shouldn't traveling 850 miles consume a large amount of time??). Now, my impatience was due in part to the fact that waiting for me at the end of the trip were either my niece and nephew, or my home and husband. But part of it was just my impatience.

GOD tells us to be still, to wait upon HIM, to trust HIS timing. The Bible is full of examples of people who had to wait on HIS timing. We learn about people like Esther, who waited on GOD's timing to reveal Haman's plan to Xerxes. And Zaccariah and Elizabeth, who in their later years recieved the son they had so wanted and waited for . And Hannah, who also recieved a much yearned for son. We also learn about people who weren't content to wait on the LORD, to trust HIS timing. Like Abraham and Sarah, whose decision to 'help' GOD fulfill HIS promise of an heir resulted in the birth of Ishmael, a plan they ended up regretting.

 Sometimes GOD's timing seems wrong to us, we hear HIS promises and we want them NOW. We hear a particularly moving sermon, and we want it applied to our lives instantly. We want to skip the journey, skip the discomfort of sitting there for what seems like forever waiting for what is on the other end.

A few times on our trip I imagined what a convenience it would be to be able to just push a button and *poof* be where I wanted to be. But then I would have missed so much. I would have missed the conversations with my oldest daughter, who sat next to me the entire ride, chatting and being silly. I would have missed mine and my kids excitement at seeing parts of our country that we never have, the Erie Canal, Lake Erie, the cute little fake buffalo on the side of the highway, the charming little shops and B&Bs that line some of the less traveled roads we navigated.

 I would have missed seeing the vineyards that stretch on for hours, and the freshly plowed cornfields, and the many many beautiful churches that line the road as we got closer to our destination. I wouldn't have had that rush of excitement when familar landmarks began to surround me on the way home. And perhaps most importantly, I would have missed the opportunity to get to the end of the journey and feel that sense of accomplishment and capability that I, who really hates leaving my comfort zone, who worries about the silliest things, sucessfully got myself and my four kids safely there, with no mishaps, no meltdowns, no problems. Life is sometimes  like that journey that we took. Sometimes it seems to go on forever, with no end in sight, with no relief from discomfort or stress.  Sometimes it seems like it would just be nice to press the fast forward button and skip over the difficult parts and get to the reunion at the end of the trip. But what would we miss out on if we could skip to the 'good stuff'? For one thing, we might miss the little joys that are scattered in amongst the difficulties.

 A few weeks ago I was having a 'pondering' day. I do that sometimes, just kind of spend a day thinking and pondering and praying. Days like that usually leave me feeling kind of drained and mentally exhausted, so I don't do anything or go anywhere, avoiding having to deal with the world. But this day a friend stopped by and wanted to go pick up veggie plants for our gardens, so I told her I would pick her up in a while and we would go.

When I arrived at her house, I was (for lack of better word) swarmed by five of her youngest kids. After making sure everyone got their hugs I chatted for a few minutes. Then I noticed some perfect pocket rocks, rocks that I could use to write Bible verses on to stick in my pocket. The kids quickly started helping, finding a good number of rocks for 'their' Mrs. Savoy (after all, if 'their' Mrs. Savoy wants rocks, rocks she shall have!!! I would not have been surprised if they had put every rock in their driveway in my pile, such was their enthusiasm!).

At one point the three year old was pulling on my pocket, I thought she wanted a hug, so I gave her a quick snuggle, then her mom and I left to run our errands. It wasn't until I reached into my pocket about an hour later that I found three perfect little rocks that she had slipped in there. If I had stayed home,tucked away in my little cocoon, I would have missed the joy of spending time with those sweet kids, missed their excitement over helping someone they love, and missed spending time with a dear friend.

Sometimes the journey is hard, sometimes it wears on our last nerve, sometimes we are certain we have used our last tiny bit of patience, but GOD will somehow give us strength to finish. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Really, it's not us renewing anything. We can't. It's the LORD. It's just one more gift HE gives us, endurance.
Sometimes we feel like HE has waited a little too long to give us this particular gift, we feel like it would have been nice to have it long ago, when we could have used it to endure hardships with a little more grace and a lot less heartache. But maybe the joys wouldn't seem as amazing, if we didn't have the pain to contrast them. Maybe little things, like rocks tucked into a pocket by an 'adoring fan' wouldn't touch us as much, if we never had a day that we felt like we were alone on our journey.  And maybe we would never realize how much we can trust and lean on our GOD and Savior, if we never got to where we felt like HE was all that was sustaining us.

GOD promises us that we shall mount up with wings as eagles; (we) shall run, and not be weary; and (we) shall walk, and not faint. I have always thought of this verse in literal terms. I picture reaching Heaven and having strength and endurance that I have not enjoyed in this earthly life. I wonder though, if it is more than that. Have you ever had to get somewhere, fast, under your own power?

A few years ago my two older kids and I traveled to California to visit my brother. On the way out our connecting flight was very delayed, so we ended up having to switch flights. Good because it meant we would not have a second layover, and we woudld arrive  about two hours earlier than planned (and see my brand new niece that much sooner!). Not so good because in order to make this new flight we would have to get to the other side of the airport in about 5 minutes. No problem right?

 Yeah, no. Five minutes to get myself and two children, three carryon bags, one computer, two pocket books, oh and my pathetic lungs, across Washington DC airport, crowded with more people than I have ever seen in one place. We ran as fast as we could, the whole way I was breathlessly encouraging my kids "you can do it" "almost there" "keep going" "just a little further".

Isn't that what GOD does for us? When HE sees us pushing ourselves harder and further and longer than we think we ever could, when our strength is at it's end and we just have nothing else to give,  HE is right there encouraging us "you can do it" "keep going" "almost there".

As I said earlier, I have always seen this verse as a picture of our lives in Heaven, being able to walk and run and never grow weary or faint. It's also a picture of our lives in CHRIST I think. That if we trust and wait, if we step away from ourselves and stay closer to HIM, we will have the strength and endurance to reach the end of our journey with HIM, having experienced everything HE wants us to.

So what is it that GOD is trying to teach you in those waiting moments? What lessons will you learn if you slow down and wait upon the LORD?

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