‘Those who rely on the Lord will gain new strength,
so that they will rise up as if they had wings like an eagle.
(i. Jesaja 40,31)
The eagle is flying so close by, that I can hear the movement of its wings, and I have the impression I can touch its breast-feathers. What an impressive and awesome moment. It is truly a majestic bird. I am sitting here in a little castle, where they show birds of prey in public presentations. I am sitting here on a bench and I am just amazed. I got a feather of an eagle as a present and it stands now in a vase on my kitchen cupboard ... that I can see it daily. But of course it is much more impressive to watch a living eagle in its flight. This bird represents power and majesty. And courage. An eagle can feel a storm long before it arrives. But the eagle is not afraid; it sits in the tree top waiting until the storm rushes through the trees. Then the eagle spreads its wings, lets go of the branch and is carried by the storm higher and higher, until it reaches the clear blue sky above the clouds ... the peace above the storm.
There is also another storm which hits the disciples of Jesus while they are in a boat on the lake. They are scared and fight with all their energy for their lives, while their boat is tossed back and forth by the waves. They do not understand why this disaster has to befall them and they feel left alone and lost. But Jesus stands on the edge of the lake and watches them with care and compassion. Finally He steps onto the water and walks to them in order to save them. Upon his powerful word the storm stops and the boat is floating on quiet and peaceful waters. Astonished and in awe the disciples can’t hardly grasp what they just experienced.
There have been storms in my life too. And like the disciples I thought I am fighting alone against it. But Jesus is still the same. He wants to be near us – even if He has to walk on water. When storms hit we are afraid and we often loose sight of our Lord. We do not realize that He is close and always watches us, because He loves us. When the ship of my life was floating again on peaceful waters, I saw that He was always with me, and I began to understand that the storm wasn’t senseless. God teaches us in such times things we wouldn’t learn otherwise – patience for example, perseverance and endurance, and to understand people living in plight. At times He uses storms to stop us from running in wrong directions, and to save us. He showed me in addition, how He always held me tight and how He walked with me through the storm. And often the storm had carried me upwards to God, because He was my only safety place.
God allows only these things to happen in our lives which do serve for our best ... even we may not understand it for a long time. He can see the future, therefore He is capable to consider and weight everything what will meet us. All experiences we go through first had to pass his throne. He wants us to know we are safe in his hands, even though we may not see or feel it. Every second of our lives He is with us. He just needs our decision to trust Him and to let go of earthbound securities, as the eagle lets go of the branch in order to be able to fly. Then God will carry us upward through the storm. If we flee to Him, we will find a heaven of rest and peace above the storm. ... And of this the eagle feather on my cupboard will remind me now.
With your Father you will fly like an eagle
while the storm is raging in your life.
Spread your wings, my heart, let go and trust.’
‘Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast in this, that my body is weak,
since then Christ will be even more powerful in me.’
(i. 2. Korinther 12,9)
The past summer I went for a walk through wonderful woodlands. The birds were singing, the air was warm, that bustling bees and flies were humming from one flower to another and when I entered the woods it was nice and cool. I felt like twenty again, when for pure joy I ran down a hill jumping over branches on the ground ... until I reached the lower ground and suddenly realized my foot was hurting ... being reminded that I am no longer twenty!
It turned out to be an inflammation of my foot’s ankle which took months to heal. And I again understood, what it means to be weak and have a broken body. I never was very strong, but how difficult is it often, to accept one’s own limitations. Sometimes we would like to be separated from our own body. But that is impossible, since my body is me. If we reject our body, we reject ourselves. When we read in the Bible the letters, which Paul wrote, we can conclude, that he had to fight with eye-problems, which left him half-blind, and that he pleaded with God to heal him. But God answered, “In your weakness I am strong.” ¹ God says the same also to us. He made an example of Paul to let us know, when we are weak, He is strong. And we can rest in this thought, that He does not think less of us, when we are restricted. He looks at us in our limitations not as limited. Just the opposite, He even honours us by telling us, now He can finally start to be strong in us, and by this He is glorified. He loves our body, so we can accept our body too, yes, we can love it, because He is strong in us. We shall know: everything that happens to us has a special meaning in God’s plan. He loves you too much to do something senseless.
But the greatest of all is: Jesus came to this earth, inheriting a human body which in comparison to his former complete divine nature is already very restrictive and limited. But He went even further. He became one of us with our broken bodies ... at the cross. When after the resurrection He met his disciples He still bore He marks of his crucifixion. And in Revelation He is symbolised as a lamb, which still bears the marks of having been sacrificed. When Jesus returns, He will renew and change our bodies, but He will be probably the only One, Who, according to Revelation, will still bear the signs of a broken body. We have actually only here and now the chance to join Him in this respect and see it as a blessing, if we are like Him. Only now we can honour Him by being conform to Him. If we reject our broken body it means to reject this blessing. Later we can’t join Him, and we might regret that we missed the joy of being counted worthy of joining Him in his brokenness. Since in heaven we do no longer have this chance, we will be healed and perfectly restored. Not so He, since He will still bear the marks of nails and thorns and a spear as a remembrance of his sacrifice of Love for all eternity. ‘He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But He lifted up our grief and carried our pain.’ ²
And by his brokenness I now see my life in a different way. I do no longer need to hide the limitations of my body. This freedom He gave us, did cost Him almost everything.
Jesus has lifted up the brokenness in a human body for you, willing to bear its signs and its restrictions for all eternity ... because of love. A love I cannot grasp, only try to honour it now ... because of love.
¹ i. 2 Kor 12,9 ² i. Jes 53,3-4
‘With my God I can leap over a wall.’
(i. Psalm 18:29)
Here I am, a grownup ‘girl’, sitting high up in a tree and looking down to the ground. The latter proves to be a mistake. I once saw a picture of the Grand Canyon, that displayed the view from a high plateau down to the river, and this sight into the chasm showed a significant similarity with the incredible depth that stares at me now.
“Oh, Father, estimating it from the ground it didn’t seem to be that high! How in all the world did I manage to end up here?!” Well, it is true, I selected that tree, when I went by, since the lower branches were easy to reach, and I wondered if I still was able to climb a tree. So with a leap I pulled myself up, and I was able to climb quickly up into the tree like a squirrel. But logically the ground is now miles away from me! ... “How can I come down again?” “The same way you came up. Just climb down.” a voice above me seems to answer:
Groaning I lift my eyes. But with the comfort and encouragement, that it is truly possible to arrive safely at the ground I overcome my fear and dare to descent. Slowly and with shaky knees I climb down, until I reach safe ground. Absolutely grand! The conquest of a giant jungle tree successfully completed! Relieved I feel like being the conqueror of Mount Everest, or some sort of ... Well, but I shouldn’t tell anybody now, that it was just a little apple-tree ...
But thinking about my adventure isn’t it similar with our lives? Also in our daily life and our workplaces we at times have to face difficult unknown situations, and it may seem impossible to find a solution. And sometimes there are days, where everything is just so frustrating, you feel like giving up, and you wish you never would have ended up in this situation. Doubt and feelings of discouragement may overwhelm you. But as these comforting words in the tree did encourage me, our heavenly Father wants to tell us too: “You aren’t left alone. Don’t be afraid, I take care of you. You live in a difficult world. But I walked that path before you. Have the courage to tackle life together with me, even though some things may seem impossible to conquer. Trust me, united we are strong. We will manage. Don’t give up. I am with you. Just look a little higher up to me.”
And it is, as if King David would have answered in one of his Psalms: “Yes, with you, my God, I can leap over a wall.” ¹
These words remind me of my adventure in the tree, and therefore I want to write another psalm:
With my God I can climb an unknown tree.
With Him overcome a wall in the dark.
By his encouraging voice I can leap
over the inner walls in my heart.
Frustration, pain, insecurity
are walls like doubt or anxiety.
Fear and forlornness, all paralyse indeed.
Courage to live is a real true need.
Listen, my heart, and you will hear,
his voice is so assuring and near.
Watch, my heart, the Father is with me.
Just look a little higher, in the unknown tree.
¹ i. in Ps 18:29
‘Jesus says: “Love one another as I love you.
Then everyone will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven.’
(i. John 13:34-35; Matthew 5:16)
It is finally weekend, and we have Church-service today. As always when I arrive in the Church some of the Church-members are already sitting in their seats. And as always I walk from row to row to greet the members by wishing them a happy Sabbath. I am almost through, and I have noticed him already. There is a visitor sitting in one of the back-rows all by himself. I stop in front of him, reaching out with my hand. Just a very fine smile appears on his serious face when he shakes my hand returning the greeting. I add: “Welcome to our Church.” He nods with his head, “Thank you.” He leans back, his face has again that hue of seriousness. I give him another smile, and then I pass.
We sing the first hymns, and afterwards, as we gather in several circles for our Bible-study, he happens to join our group. Nobody seems to know him. We have quite a bit proceeded into the topic of our Bible-study, when the question is raised, whether God’s existence can be proven. There are some very good inputs of scientific discoveries and researches, and I am sharing gladly too what I have learned from an excellent scientist. The visitor was rather quiet until now, and has not much participated, when now after my presentation he speaks up.
“When I had become a Christian, I approached my parents with similar things. They were against faith and against me. I tried to convince them with the best scientific arguments, all the best logical knowledge. But the difficult situation between us didn’t change, they would not believe, there were tensions. I had to give up. But as time passed I began to see my own wrongs, and my own short- comings, and along with it I began to accept my parents with their weaknesses and failures, and to love them as they are, sincerely with my heart. And when I showed my love continually and persistently, they became aware of it that something is different with me. They slowly began to change their attitude towards God, faith, and me, as they noticed my acceptance. I was unable to reach them with the best wisdom and scientific knowledge about God, only true sincere love was what began to touch their hearts.”
All of us are silent for a moment, and then the others continue with the topic. But I sit in my chair quietly. His testimony has reached my heart too. And I know our heavenly Father has sent us an ‘Angel’ to show us human beings again what really matters. This testimony is last thing I heard from the lips of this visitor.
After the sermon as the Church-service ends, he disappears before I am able to thank him for his testimony. Gone, unnoticed, unknown, never to be seen again in our Church. I don’t know whether he was a heavenly angel or an earthly one. Since the Greek word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger’ in English, it doesn’t matter to me. But his message matters to me.
And in the Bible I see the God and Creator of the Universe kneeling on the floor, right before the Lord’s Supper, washing twelve pair of dirty feet, a service the disciples considered as so humiliating that none of them was willing to do it. And I hear Him saying: “I give you a new commandment. Love one another as I love you.” A new commandment? Wasn’t it already written in the Old Testament of the Bible: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’? But yes, indeed, it is new. Jesus did not speak of loving as we love ourselves, but “as I love you.” Have you ever seen a God handling the failings of men with such a forgiveness and love? Not withdrawing or reproaching, but washing in a slave’s position their feet? God is love. And Love is patient and kind, does not envy or is embittered, does not seek its own, thinks no evil, but rejoices in the truth about God. Love bears, hopes and endures all things. Love never fails. That’s the way God loves ... loves us. And we begin to see our own short-comings while He washes our feet, but He doesn’t judge us. And we stop to judge the weaknesses and failings of others, and we begin to love. Not as we love ourselves, but as ... He loves us.
¹ s. Phil 4,7
© 2010, Jaimée M. Seis / © 2013, Top Life Center