We greet you again with that wonderful old-time greeting: The Lord bless you and the Lord make you a blessing to others, to so many needy souls today.
We do really believe that which we so often say in our sign-off, that God has His hand on the helm of the universe today. He’s still in control of all affairs. He’s still on the throne and prayer changes things. That isn’t just a saying in our theme song; we really believe it.
We’re talking this time about Isaiah 40:31. We’ve spoken along this line before, but because history has been so in the making this week, we’ve been thinking about the historic Wesley’s Chapel in London, that we saw some years ago. There is a jeweled window, so beautiful in a glory of color and art that many come from miles to see it.
On the glass are the words: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”1 “If I had wings,” he’s saying.
Man has always wanted wings, always wanted to fly, always envied the birds, wanted to get away from it all. As a group we were watching the countdown for astronaut Glenn, and someone in the group said, “Well, he can at least get away from it for a while. I envy him. Oh, I’d sure like to get away from it all for a little while myself.”2
You know, so many people feel confined and discontented with the “here,” and they think surely there’s something easier and brighter in the “there.” It was that way with David, the wonderful, praiseful psalmist. The day came when he cried, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6). He thought that wings would just lift him above all his troubles here.
Always we feel that there’s something better just over the hill, a glorious liberty and a freedom somewhere else. You know, one can write about this day in which you and I live; they could write the word “wings” over this day. For now man flies everywhere, and now with wings, man even flies around the world through space, circling the world above the very birds whose realm he always did envy.
Tennyson wrote these words:
For I dipt in to the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder-storm;
Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.3
Surely he looked forward at something which he truly must have seen in the eyes of the Spirit.
It has been in my day that a flying machine heavier than air raised above the ground, and folks thought that was so very wonderful. Some of you remember the Wright brothers over the dunes of North Carolina, and how shocked the world was because it remained in the air for about 12 seconds.4 This seemed so impossible at that time that a reporter of a New York newspaper lost his job, because he wrote this up, and they said it was such a fantastic story.
Then came the time when the Lone Eagle5 flew the Atlantic alone. This was all just the beginning, for not only are there wings over every sky today, but man has challenged the sky and gone soaring far above the eagle, hurtling through space in a strange craft which scorns wings now.
But I am thinking not of this kind of wings, but only of wings as a symbol of the wings that God gives His children, wings that all of us can have if we will use them. Wings that are often born out of weights, when we’re weary with the strain of it all and we fly to God for the rest He’s promised, and relief that only God can give.
An acquaintance of mine has this little poem tacked above her sink:
Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I’ve no time to be a saint
By doing lovely things.
Or watching late with Thee,
Or dreaming in the dawn light,
Or storming heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint,
By getting meals and
Washing up the plates.6
This always reminds me of the beautiful verse in the Psalms: “Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold” (Psalm 68:13).
What brings such a miraculous change to the psalmist David? He knew the secret; he knew just how to mount up with wings as a dove. In the third Psalm he seems to echo the cry, “Let me get away from it all,” when he said, “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me. Many are they that rise up against me.
“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” There is the secret! “The Lord sustained me!” Then he continues, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people that have set themselves against me…” (Psalm 3:1, 5–6).
The Lord sustained David and his weights had been changed to wings. There isn’t a truer scripture in God’s Word than this, that “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Putting this in the simplest of words—God grant it won’t sound trite—the one that flies to the Word of God and there meditates and seeks the presence of the Lord, waits in prayer until God touches his soul, truly mounts up and up to realms of peace and rest, and are truly, as this verse says, “sustained by the Lord.”
Oh, there’s a sort of devilish gravitation in this old world that daily strives to pull us down from the noblest and best. But the Word of God tells us here that there is an upward pull that’ll lift us right up to the very heart of God. “They that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as the eagle; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
This is just practical everyday religion, that if you will go apart by yourself and take your Bible, and quietly read and wait upon the Lord and talk to Him, and wait for Him to speak to your heart, soon you will find that you can run and not fall, and walk and not faint. All the needed strength will be available if you’ll only give God a chance.
First you must mount up to the heart of God. There are those that try to run about, to walk in their own strength, running feverishly in the power of the flesh, hoping that they will somehow mount up. But they put the feet before the wings; that is, they run around trying to do good things for the Lord without first getting into the Spirit of the Lord so that His work can be done in His Spirit. But the feet in this verse come long after the mounting up on the wings.
What chance would health have if you never cared for your body? What chance would the glories of nature have if you never paused to watch them? What chance does your soul have if you never take a few moments to have fellowship with God in your hurried life? If you never give Him a chance to talk to your heart and never take time to live in His Word and know His will?
Wait on the Lord. He’ll renew your strength and your spirit, for He’s still on the throne and prayer will change things.
- Psalm 139:9–10.
- John Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States senator who was the first American to orbit the earth and the third American in space. He flew the Friendship 7 mission on February 20, 1962.
- From “Locksley Hall,” by Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1835.
- Orville and Wilbur Wright were credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903.
- Nickname of Charles Lindbergh.
- From “The Lord of all Pots and Pans and Things,” written in 1928 and attributed to a 19-year-old girl in service, author unknown.