Isaiah 35 All Saints Allesley 18-12-12
Isaiah 1-39 is written to warn of a coming disastrous judgement by God on His people.
What do the people of God need help with as they wait for the coming kingdom?
How are they to maintain hope? Can you empathise?
The Abilities Hands are fantastic – how we manipulate our environment. How we care for ourselves – washing, clothing, pushing buttons, eating, defending. How we care for others – helping, greeting, supporting, caressing.
Knees are stupendous – how we stay mobile and responsive. Standing, walking, jumping, climbing, dancing. Adapting to shifting decks and uneven roads. Being flexible and responsive.
Hearts can't be beaten – pumping oxygen and other life sustaining elements to keep our bodies alive and healthy. But also a seat of our emotional life – love, compassion, passion, motivation. In scripture it is also the seat of rational thought.
Feeble Hands – Its hard if you develop carpel tunnel syndrome, if you are affected by organo-phosphates: your small motor actions are debilitated. Getting dressed. Jar opening. Cooking. Caring. All become difficult or impossible. Even wrapping your hands in thick gloves for protection limits function. Are your hands feeble?
Weak Knees – A "weak-kneed" person is one lacking in moral fibre. If your knees are dodgy you will be less able to cope with rough ground. Having sat down its hard to get up again leading to – inertia – playing safe – inflexibility- unresponsiveness – avoiding challenges...
Fearful Hearts – hearts are not just not just emotion but intellect – fearfulnesss leads to us being overwhelmed by self concern – its all about “me” - a tendency towards pessimism – demotivation – disengagement.
How do wedo what Isaiah was charged to do?
Strengthen feeble Hands: Get people to take the gloves off, get your hands dirty, get to grips with reality, feel your way in, risk damage. Cut your decorative nails. Don't see yourself as insulated by city walls, tradition, family connection, priest or temple. If your spiritual life limited to a set pattern of church services be more intentional and adventurous in prayer, in fellowship, in serving.
Steady weak knees: Use sticks, proper exercise, enough rest. If your knees are clogged with debris from previous trauma or arthritis you may need atheroscopic flushing or even a complete replacement. In other words: use the support network that is there for you already: Cell – church fellowship – prayer board – healing team – bible note. They can all be sticks to support us in our weakness. Sometimes its getting up off your settee and doing things so you don't seize up. For others its about knowing that we need to get on the settee more and rest to renew strength. Yes for many of us we do need remedial work. Our flexibility is hampered with the debris of previous unresolved hurts and failures. Bitterness and resentment are like bits of torn cartilage or arthritic swellings that painfully restrict our movement. Confession, repentance & forgiveness can flush these out. Or we may need the deeper surgery of conversion.
Encourage fearful hearts: Look what can be achieved. Look what God has already done. “Whatsoever things are good.....think on these things” advises St.Paul. Remember the cloud of witnesses on your side. Watch your “diet” , balance the secularist agenda of the media with Christian input. Look out for opportunities to celebrate what God is doing: youth prayers, CHIPS visit, APCM, Archbishop, wider church.
CONCLUSION: It's not just about feeling guilty. It's not just about telling ourselves “Shape up!”. We need to know that God calls us and the He will enable us. We may have to wait (The exiles waited a generation) but God's promise is sure.When you are going through it - remember that He goes through it with you.
Are you perfect?
What do you want God to do for your feeble hands, weak knees, fearful heart?