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Lift Me Up, Lord…

February 3, 2015


A week or so ago, Denise and I were driving on County Highway 30-A between Grayton Beach and Watercolor in Florida. We have driven that route many times and yet that day was different. A movement up in the air caught my eye and I looked up into the sky. It was a Bald Eagle soaring over the trees and the water of the Emerald Coast! And the sight of that eagle made my own tired heart and spirit soar!

Years ago I watched a Bald Eagle fishing at the church camp in Northern Minnesota where I worked the summer between my first and second year of seminary. The lifeguard and I had been talking on the dock. We were both tired as it had been a long day filled with cleanup between camper groups and we were also tired after a particularly hectic week filled with boisterous campers! And just like the sighting near Watercolor, my heart was stirred with the majesty of the great bird in flight. No longer tired, I found myself energized by this simple yet profoundly beautiful sighting!

The above picture is obviously not a picture of a Bald Eagle! However, what happened to me in this particular place had much the same effect as my eagle sightings. We were driving from Galway to Dublin on our last full day in Ireland. I saw road signs for Athenry and we decided to take a slight detour. Athenry is a name known to me through the Irish ballad from the time of the Great Famine called “The Fields of Athenry”.  I will admit that I was tired after all of our driving and hiking during our honeymoon trip. Yet we took another winding road and came upon this little gem of a community. As we wandered around a bit and took pictures, once more the feeling of being tired was replaced by a sense of wonder and peace. In taking one of those God-inspired moments, I felt a sense of peace and renewal.

I get the same message or idea from Isaiah 40:28-32. “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 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.”

Even though this passage is often read at funerals, it truly does apply to our everyday journey of faith and life. When you find yourself tired or exhausted by a particular event or season in life… When you are digging deep within for the strength you need… At those times, we are almost forced to look beyond ourselves for the strength to carry on. At times like that in my own life, God has this incredible way of showing me exactly what I need to carry on. Whether it is a majestic eagle in flight or a peaceful place on a detour or simply the sound of the waves crashing on the shore; I am reminded of the promise which Isaiah offers in this selection of Scripture.

I know several families and individuals who are walking through emotionally, spiritually, and physically difficult times in their lives. And I have often found myself in the midst with them as their pastor, padre and friend. Especially at those times, I/we need to remember the one who will give us the strength and renewal needed to make it through times of trial. The flight of that eagle a few weeks ago was just such a reminder. Have you not know? Have you not heard? Dear reader, the Lord will give strength for the journey… And my prayer is that you will find that renewal… Always…

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  1. Let me tell you about one of those moments with an eagle. My siblings and I have started a new tradition on the weekend after Christmas. Along with spouses and children, we gather at a lake in the western part of Nebraska. The lake is formed by a dam built back in the 1930s, I think. We always see bald eagles winging their way across the lake or resting in the trees by the lake. One Saturday we were driving along the dam to head back to town for groceries and a bald eagle flew right along next to our car. I could have almost opened the window and touched his wing! And for those precious moments, I was flying with him. Amazing. I’ll never forget!

    As for Isaiah and this passage: you hit the nail on the head. My older sister Jana was hit by a train 32 years ago this Valentine’s Day and has survived all those days since with a traumatic brain injury. This is her verse, the one she can recite from memory. And on her hardest days, she does hear. The Lord has given her strength for this journey, and it has been more than enough for her to carry her sister – me – back into his arms.

    God bless you and thank you for being the pastor, padre, friend, that many of us need.

    • Wow! What an amazing story! I could literally envision your experience! What a treasure for Jana to hold onto… Thank you so much for sharing ❤️

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