In a combination of the scripture and scout Sunday – my title is in some
ways a play on words. But it is also a reminder of the truth. No matter how
awesome we are, all of us as human beings grow tired. Even a scout is tired
after backpacking 15 miles in one day with a heavy pack through the Smokey
Mountains – I know from experience!
Or watch a marathon runner. They get to the finish line and their legs
start to give out, they wobble, they fall down, they collapse in physical
exhaustion. 2012 Olympic marathon runner Desiree Davilla says that it takes her
a full two weeks off from exercise to start to recover. Then she takes two more
weeks very lightly. That’s one month.
As great a condition as these peak athletes are in, they hit the wall following
this event, and their body has to recover.
The same is true even if we aren’t marathon runners or backpackers. In
life, there will be times when we stumble, when we are tired, when we feel
burnt-out. When we simply can’t go another step and we have to stop and rest.
It doesn’t matter how amazing we are, it can happen. Nobody can go 100% all the
time. Eventually we will collapse.
And we haven’t even talked about the other thing that Isaiah talks about,
getting old. That happens to us all if we live long enough too. It is part of
life. And as we age, our bodies eventually wear out. Our knees need to be
replaced, our elbows hurt, our energy is less than it used to be, and we take
more naps. Isaiah is reminding us, that no matter who we are: youths will grow
weary and tired, young men will stumble. Given enough time – it will happen.
That is part of being human.
Isaiah then contrasts us with God. You see, God’s strength is not like ours.
God’s strength is everlasting.
God has been around from the beginning crafting and shaping the universe. Isaiah
reminds us that every day the sun rises and sets without fail. That seeds are
planted, root and grow because the breath of the Lord blows upon them. God’s
strength is unending.
Isaiah then goes on to say that when we are confronted with this dichotomy:
our weakness and God’s strength it is tempting to say “My way is hidden from
the Lord, my God ignores my predicament.” In other words, we may think we
shouldn’t grow tired if God is with us, and so if we do grow tired, God must be
ignoring us. That is what the Israelites are saying in their troubled times
when this was written. But it isn’t true –even if we feel abandoned and worn
out, we are not ignored and unimportant. It is simply part of being human that
we need rest. God doesn’t work by taking away our human limitations; rather,
God works by restoring us through rest, through healing and through wholeness.
God reminds us of our humanness, reminds us that we are not like God, and helps
us to be at our best again.
So God’s strength is not one that takes away the struggles and the
difficulties of life. God doesn’t make it so we can run a marathon without
getting tired; instead God uses that strength to bring us healing and
wholeness. God uses that month of rest to do miracles within our body, healing
the bones, the cells, and restoring our strength.
The hardest part of this for us as humans is that oftentimes this healing
and recovery do not happen until after we have already hit bottom. God’s timing
is often not our timing. And yet the message of Isaiah to a people who have
given up hope is of God’s ability to renew and restore, to bring about
refreshment even after they have collapsed.
Just to help us understand that, let’s look at another passage. This is
from the gospel of Mark, and it is about Jesus and his healings.
After leaving the synagogue, Jesus,
James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in
bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He went to her,
took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served
That evening, at sunset, people
brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. The whole town gathered
near the door. He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he
threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they
Early in the morning, well before
sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in
prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they
told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!”
He replied, “Let’s head in the other
direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why
I’ve come.” He traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and
throwing out demons.
Listen to this quote from Bruce and Katherine Epperly, “Jesus was a pulsing
center of divine power and energy. Like an electrical transformer, the energy of
love flowed from Jesus toward persons in need of physical, relational,
emotional, and spiritual healing. The power that emanated from his touch and
presence was akin to the power of the big birth and the first light of
creation, the primal energy that penetrates the darkness and brings forth life
from God’s womb of creativity. Grounded in his unity with God, Jesus was the
connective “vine” through whom God’s life-giving energy flowed abundantly to
everyone he touched.” (SOS)
But he still needed to get away. His human body could only take so much.
Even Jesus had to rest, he could only heal so many people, only put in so many
hours of work, before he would collapse. Then what restored him was that
connection with God, his time of prayer.
We also should be seeking that connection with that renewing and restoring
power of God, especially when we are exhausted. Because that connection with
that energizing touch of Christ is still available to us –
When we grow weary, tired; when we are in need of healing physically,
emotionally or spiritually, we can reach out and be connected through the vine
to our very creator -- the one who made the grasshoppers, the redwoods, and the
stars in the heavens.
I can certainly give personal examples. There have been many times in life
when I have been exhausted. There are days when I need to go home early. Days
when visitations at the hospital, or when funerals and grieving families start
to weigh heavy on my soul. There are days when I personally am struggling with
depression. There was one stretch, one summer here when I did 10 funerals in 8
weeks. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I needed rest. But God didn’t
leave me there. Over time with prayer, and with reconnection to the love of
Christ, and allowing his love to refill me, and flow through me again, I was
restored. It probably took days and weeks, perhaps even months to completely
feel restored, but eventually it came. Vacations help! (That’s why I went away
last week, I was feeling exhausted). That is part of being human. We run and we
do fall down. We do grow tired.
But God does not abandon us. We can find ourselves renewed in strength, so
that we can fly like the eagles, run and walk with growing weary (at least for
God gives power to the tired, and revives the exhausted, brings healing to
the sick, and hope to the downtrodden. When we hit bottom, when we collapse,
that help and power is available to us. And we need to take advantage of it. We
can connect to that life-giving energy, that primal power of the divine, and
while it will not make us gods, it will revive us and give us renewed strength.
Yes, it can take days, weeks, even months.
So when you are tired, it is okay. God hasn’t abandoned you. Rather, it is
part of being human. Even Eagle Scouts Grow Weary. But know that God can
restore you. And when the day comes when your body ultimately gives in to age
and needs its final rest, God will restore you then too. Giving strength to
your soul, healing to your spirit, and allowing you to mount up with wings like
angels into the heavenly realm.