Encouraging tired eagles

Posted: February 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

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

Jesus always seems to be very busy in Mark’s gospel
Immediately, he did this; At once, he did that; The same day, he did something else

He is baptised in the Jordan, and immediately driven out into the wilderness
He arrives in Capernaum, and immediately goes into the synagogue to preach
When he finishes preaching he goes at once to the house of Simon and Andrew, and immediately heals Simon’s mother-in-law

The urgency Jesus feels communicates itself to those around him
He calls to people fishing, and immediately they leave their nets
He teaches, and at once the authority of his teaching is proclaimed everywhere

Immediately is an interesting word
It literally means, with nothing in between
In the Bible it indicates that people are responding to the Spirit
There’s no human doubts or hesitations in between the Spirit and the people it speaks to– they just respond

What stops us responding to the voice of the Spirit immediately?
What stands in between and gets in the way?
The simple answer is us – we do. Specifically, our lack of faith stands in the way

I’m not talking about doctrine
I don’t mean that we disbelieve in the Holy Trinity or the divinity of Christ or life after death

But do we have the complete trust in God that lets us act immediately when he calls us?
Do we have the faith that God really calls us and really tells us what he wants us to do?
Or do we talk ourselves out of being faithful and responsive to God – because it’s safer?

I think we do. Where do we see this lack of faith at work? Where does it express itself?
I think in that sense of tiredness we hear about so often

Let me put that in context. It’s not only people in church who feel tired
Feeling tired is one of the most common complaints in modern life

It’s so common, it’s got its own acronym: TATT – tired all the time syndrome
At any given time, 20% of people complain of feeling unusually tired
5-7% of people feel so tired, they complain to their doctor about it

GPs only think it’s worth sending half of those patients for tests: bloods and so on
Few of those tests produce any abnormal findings
Most patients don’t get any formal diagnosis
If they get anything, it’s usually a descriptive diagnosis – something like ‘stress’

If there are no positive medical findings, does that mean the problem isn’t ‘real’?
No, obviously not – it just means the problem needs a different kind of treatment
Advice on lifestyle, attitudes, beliefs, behaviours and so on

What about us in church? What do we do about our sense of tiredness?
I think we sometimes talk ourselves into feeling tired
Which is good, because it means we can talk ourselves out of it
We just have to break the habit we have of talking about how tired we are

Let me give an example of how that can happen
A teacher got fed up of children at school telling her things were ‘boring’
The things they were studying, or the work she asked them to do

So she banned the use of the B word in her classroom
No one was allowed to say anything was boring

They had to come up with more creative ways of saying it
“This isn’t very interesting” “This could be more exciting”
It had a big effect not only on how students talked, but on how they approached their work

I tried a similar thing here, at our Saturday families event in December
The weather was frosty – but I banned the C word
No one was allowed to say it was cold
“It’s bracing” “That wind has an edge to it” “It’s not very warm, is it?”

Why should we try to change the words we use? Because words matter
If other people say it’s cold, you start to feel cold – even if you weren’t cold before
They talk you into feeling cold

That’s also true of the T word – TIRED. People can talk you into feeling tired
If they say they’re tired, you start feeling tired too – just to keep them company
If they tell you that you look tired, you start to feel tired – even if you weren’t tired before

What do people in church mean when they say they’re tired?
It think it really points to feelings either of boredom or discouragement
Neither of those feelings have any place in church

Is our tiredness real? Yes
Is it 100 % physical? Probably not – I actually think it’s spiritual
We feel tired because we don’t have enough faith; we don’t believe the Scriptures
What does Isaiah say?

The Lord … does not faint or grow weary …
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.

I like what Isaiah says here – even young people get tired, if they rely on their own strength
But people who find their strength in God just go on and on and on
Remember that song we sing – “The joy of the Lord is our strength”

They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint – is that how we feel?

We shouldn’t talk ourselves into feeling tired
We shouldn’t talk other people into feeling tired
We shouldn’t let other people talk us into feeling tired

That’s not how God created us to feel
That’s not what life in the Spirit feels like

I want us to ban the T word
Because if we believe the Scripture, there is no reason why any of us should feel tired:

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.

When we get that self-inflicted weariness out of the way, we’ll feel the immediacy of the Spirit at work in us
Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman by the well:

Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John4.13-14)

The living water Christ gives us is the life of the Spirit
Standing water stagnates, because it doesn’t move
The living water flows, endlessly, tirelessly, with an inexhaustible energy
It’s not a meandering stream – it’s a raging torrent

Let’s go with the flow
Let’s allow the power of that current to bear us up and carry us along
Because any church and any believer who tries to stand still, will be swept aside

4 February 2018, St George’s, High Heaton. All Scripture references are to the ESV.

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