Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hitting the Wall

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV)

In sports, there's an expression used for when an athlete has used up their last ounce of energy leaving them exhausted and delirious. The name for that state of overwhelm is called "bonking" or "hitting the wall". At those times, the athlete needs the total assistance of others, offering them rescue, rest and nourishment. Only then can they be restored and renewed. For those with the great misfortune of having no aid when they hit the wall, demise can be imminent.

Though you may not personally engage in competitive sports, I'll bet you've been there. Each of us has times when we have pushed ourselves as hard as we can, strained to meet the needs that are demanded in a given situation, and then found the world spinning around us as we are ready to collapse. Our thoughts become irrational and we expect way too much of ourselves. We need the help of another because it has become impossible for us to take even one more step.

It's easy at times like this to be self-condemning. We foolishly compare ourselves to others, never seeing what we have amazingly just come through. We feel defeated as we cling to false perceptions of how things truly ought to be. Having depleted ourselves physically and emotionally, we are unable to clearly see where to go next.

Oh, what a merciful, generous, loving God meets us at times like this! The most remarkable thing I find in today's scripture passage is that the Lord knows we will bonk from time to time. Ironically, He reminds us that even the most vital among us, youths or young men, will at times find themselves in a position of utter helplessness.

Yet, our tender Savior meets our stumbling, not with condemnation and further expectation, but with that much-needed rescue. When we're dragging, He's not cracking a whip and shouting, "More! More!" Jesus is gently renewing. He lifts us up, strengthens us with as much time and refreshment as we need to get back on track.

In today's passage, the flight of the eagle is also cited. In Deuteronomy 32:11, there is a description of how the mother eagle teaches her young to fly. It is nudged out of the nest, and while it's in total flapping, panicking free-fall, the mother swoops under it to catch it. While frightened, the eaglet is strengthened through teaching. What a perfect example God gives us of His care for us!

The only thing that is required of us at times like this is to put our total hope in Him. That seems mind-blowing in a culture where we are so performance driven. Even religion can leave us feeling that we need to earn the love of our Father. But it would be against His very nature not to swoop down and catch us when we trust in Him. How foolish we are when we expect of ourselves what even God himself does not expect of us!

Why look towards other people? They're only human. They can disappoint. Why rely on ourselves? We surely don't have it all figured out! Why depend on good fortune? That certainly comes and goes. Only Jesus can lift us up to a place that helps us rise above our circumstances. He gave His life for our restoration. The next time you hit the wall, pull off of life's race course and find your refreshment in Him.

1 comment:

  1. You're going to make me cry. At my dad's funeral, there was nothing else I could share other than that story of the Eagle! there's an intro in a book about an Eagle in a chicken coop. It means so much to me. If you have time, take a moment to read it.
    You can find the article at www.matthewarnoldstern.com/speeches/eagle.html
    Love you Barb! Thanks for sharing!!