Thriving in Uncertainty Series
Expand Your Space: Allow Room for God
Pastor Don Crellin
As part of our ongoing “Thriving in Uncertainty” series of resources, we want to offer some wisdom this summer from Don Crellin, who along with his wife Middy are a treasured part of our Rochester Covenant Church family. Over the years, Don and Middy have served five American Baptist Churches in various parts of the country, and Middy was raised in a Covenant church in Western New York.
These articles are condensed from a series of devotional thoughts Don shares regularly with his grandchildren; drawn from the wisdom God has given Don over the years through his own journey with Christ. We hope you enjoy these, and will share them with your own children, grandchildren, and others—as we all draw on strength from Christ to help thrive in these uncertain times!
–Steve Eng, pastor
“Give me more room!” You’ve probably felt this before. As a young boy I remember crying out to my parents as we were in our car heading toward the lake for a family vacation: “ Beverly will not move over so I can have enough room in the back seat for my legs! I need more space!”
You probably have felt that way these past few weeks. We need a bigger house…more room in the refrigerator…more space in our closets. We need more physical space.
How about spiritual space too? This verse from Isaiah suggests that we need spiritual space if we are to adequately grow and develop—emotionally and spiritually.
Sometimes spiritually we feel all boxed-in…with little life and growth and a sense of weakness in our spirit. How do we find spiritual space and renewed strength? How do we stretch the spiritual muscles of our soul?
Let us review the scripture text from Isaiah 40:28-31: “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.”
Here Isaiah warns God’s people that we can become so boxed in, emotionally and spiritually, that we expend all our strength on anxious living. We live in anxiety instead of strength and peace. Our spiritual legs loose strength and circulation.
In summary, the message of Isaiah 40 is that of renewed and spiritual life as we grow with God in our worship and prayer life. We can fly higher, like the prophet’s eagle, to new spiritual heights. And people are warning us with this coronavirus to live with space between people, we also find we have more time to fill in that time and space with God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
To discover our source of spiritual drive and power, the prophet gives us hints: There is:
- The Peril of Expended Strength: “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even young men shall faint, and be weary, and utterly fall.”
The prophet outlines a perilous sequence: weariness, then weakness, and ultimately, utter collapse. His words convey the danger of expended strength. When we are tired and drained of energy, then we have lost our joy of the presence of God, and we neglect worship and God and our prayer life. Sometimes our sins need to be confessed before we can fly high again to new spiritual heights. Have we lost our spiritual vitality?
Secondly, he shares a secret to renewed spiritual strength:
- The Principle of Exchanged Strength: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” The word “renew” can be rendered “change” or “exchange.” Scholars suggest this is a word can refer to the process by which an eagle exchanges its old feathers for new ones, to fit it for the phenomenal heights and flights for which this bird is famous.
In the same way, the supreme secret of the Christian life is exchanging all that we are for all that Christ is. Christ becomes our life and strength.
And the secret of this exchanged life is wrapped up in that little word “wait”, wait on the Lord.
There is the waiting of Dedication: daily submitting and devoting our spirit into the spirit of Christ. There is the waiting of Supplication: a life of worship and prayer. Finally, there is the waiting of Expectation: We must expect and believe God’s promises and expect great things. The quietness of prayer and the confidence of expectation bring the answer of renewed spiritual strength.
Thirdly, he offers:
- The Purpose of this New Strength: New adventures in faith and service. Christ gives us new strength so we can serve Christ and others in a more effective peaceful and loving way—without undue weariness and weakness. We discover anew the joy of God’s presence as we work and worship, and know and feel the joy of serving others.
So remember the peril of expended strength. Lay hold of the principle of exchanged strength, living in the mind and strength of Christ and entering the joy of Exchanged Strength…and remember that the purpose of this new strength comes through the joy of God’s presence and the joy of serving others.
May we be men and women who know the joy of God’s presence, who have the strength of Christ, and who go to new exploits and adventures of faith regardless of where we live and how old we are.
Prayer: May we be renewed in spiritual strength by serving Christ and finding renewed joy in serving others. In these times of physical weakness in our nation, may we make greater space for our spiritual health, growth, and strength in Christ. Give us renewed desire to make room in our hearts for Jesus. In his name we pray. Amen.