To Carry Hope

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To-Carry-HopeIsaiah says that, “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 41:30)

I have been there before, standing on top of the mountain, arms stretched to the heavens, praise pulsing through me and belief radiating out of me. At times, I have stood on the edge of glory holding only the weight of my brittle bones while fire burns within them, and even my flesh cannot hold the holy heat. I have seen the bush all in flames and heard my name thunder from the ash. I have soared on the wings of eagles and touched the hope of the Lord while my toes barely graze the tips of grass. My strength has been renewed. At times.

At times I have run, feet pounding hard ground, salty sweat beading above my brow, the race that grows with each step and shortens with each minute. My breath, a steady whistle to the drum of legs churning. These eyes of mine, focused and pin-pointed to the target of a race well run and a spirit regenerated. Change and relationships, callings and desires splash me like a Dixie cup of cold water spurring me on. I have run and not grown weary.  At times.

And yet still, there are times when I am left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. I am all walk and no run, all crawl and no soar. I am inch by inch, breath labored, bones heavy, burned out bush brittle inside of me.  Each friend, every hymn, a staff beneath me. Each ray of God, every gentle prodding, a rod behind me. Where I had once stood on the edge of glory, at times like this, I stand on the edge of collapse. But I do not faint. Though doubled over and eyes drawn, I do not faint.  At times.

Yes, I have seen the top of the mountain and I have felt the wind in the air. I have run in faith with lungs clear and breath steady. I have also stumbled and fumbled along the blurry line of faith and doubt.

For at times we can hardly keep our feet on the ground as we grab the wings of eagles soaring in blessed belief. At times we cannot keep our legs from running as the wind of conviction blows heavy to our back.  And still there are times when it is enough, no, it is all we can do, to put one stubborn foot in front of the other and not faint while doing so. It is all we can do to keep breathing as we walk.

Is it better to soar than to run? More faithful to run than to crawl? Or perhaps is our strength renewed, as the scriptures say, when we carry hope with us whether we soar, sprint or slug (Isaiah 41:30)?

Could it be that God forms us just as much when we hide in the shadow as when we shine on the peak; that perfect Love is chasing us in spite of our strength, no matter our speed?

I have stood on the mountain and soared.  I have drudged through the valley and crawled. But hope, blessed hope, I have carried with me. And my strength has been renewed.

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