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Stand up on those promises, hear the whispers of the wind

by davesandel on September 5th, 2021

Sunday, September 5, 2021                           (today’s lectionary)

Stand up on those promises, hear the whispers of the wind

Thus says the Lord to you whose hearts are frightened:  Be strong, fear not! Here is your God who comes with vindication, he comes to save you.

Are you weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer. This was Dad’s favorite song (along with “I’ll Fly Away”) and one most of us old time Christians love to hear. There are promises here, promises for God to keep.

And then … the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared.

Thank you, I say in advance, for the day when my mom will hear again with ease, without aid. These days she must be kind of in a cloud, her mind working just fine until I speak to her, or any of us speaks to her, and she only sees our lips moving. A fuzzy buzz covers our words.

“What?” she says, frustration etching her face. Over and over, day after day, she must say this. “What?” Perhaps it embarrasses as well as frustrates her. It would me. “Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer. In his arms He’ll take and shield you; thou shalt find a solace there.”

And the people brought a deaf woman to Jesus, who had a speech impediment as well. Jesus took her off by herself away from the crowd. He put his fingers in the woman’s ears and then, spitting, touched her tongue. Jesus looked up to heaven, and he groaned, “Ephphatha!” This means, “Be opened!” and immediately the woman’s ears were opened and she spoke plainly. All of us were exceedingly astonished and said over and over, “Behold, this man Jesus does all things well.”

Suffering stretches out its bony crony fingers and touches us cold, when we least expect it, in ways we never even thought of. Next week I’ll be going with my friends to a meeting on the shore of Lake Travis called “Houseboat.” We drive down toward the lake, then walk the rest of the way. When the evening ends, we walk back up to our cars and drive away. Simple, right?

Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.

I remember in 2015 at Lake Tahoe, when all our kids and grandkids gathered up for a few days of fancy family time, Margaret and I sat under a weeping willow tree while the rest of us bounced up a beautiful trail, through the more beautiful woods, to a most beautiful waterfall deep inside the forest, water that was nearly to Lake Tahoe, refreshing, blue, beautiful, deep and wild.

To say Margaret and I were desolate would not be true; we had each other, and where we sat was beautiful, and we were near a rescue team who were looking for lost hikers, and we could hear them make their plans and voice their own frustrations. Not again! (At least it isn’t us) But my left knee had not yet been replaced, and I limped wherever we went. Neither of us felt strong to walk that trail.

Now my knee has been replaced, but my breath gets short. My right coronary artery is completely blocked, but my body created “collaterals” to take its place. The cardiologist said, “You’re fine.” Last month when Shannon and I and Dave and David and Oleg and whoever was left at the end of our Houseboat night walked right up that hill, I did too.

But I was winded. I felt great, and at the same time I wondered if I’d have a heart attack. I wondered if I would do this climb again next month. (Next Tuesday, now.) We’ll see.

Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

So yes, I’m one of those who stands on the promises of God. And who knows what might happen next? Our friend’s mother fell on vacation in Florida and broke her hip and ribs. What? She’s a strong woman! About our age! The bony fingers of suffering … stretch out to find us and touch us and surprise us, sometimes unto death. Oh, Lord, hear my prayer. We humans need each other. Let us all be strong, take heart, and wait for you, O Lord.

The fatherless and the widow the Lord sustains. The Lord shall reign forever. And did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith, to be heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

(Isaiah 36, Psalm 146, James 2, Matthew 4, Mark 7)

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