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“They Shall Soar Like Eagles”
Isaiah 40:29-31


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany—February 8, 2009

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Last month our daughters participated in a robotics competition that was held in the impressive aeronautics engineering building on the campus of Iowa State University.  They have one of the most advanced wind tunnels in the world.  You’ve seen how they work on TV.  A model of an airplane, car, boat, rocket, or other vehicle is placed in the wind tunnel, while powerful winds blow over it.  Colored smoke is used so that you can see the object’s resistance to the airflow, the “drag” of the object, which will slow it down. 

The goal is to engineer a vehicle as streamlined as possible, so that it has the least drag and highest efficiency.  Advanced aircraft like the stealth bomber have reduced drag to a minimum, but it is impossible to eliminate all drag.  The remaining drag must be overcome to keep the object in motion, or it will grind to a halt, or, in the case of an airplane, the drag will pull it down from the skies.

Isaiah writes in today’s Old Testament Reading: “[The Lord] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.”

Imagine that we could put you into a spiritual wind tunnel, so that we could see the spiritual drag that is pulling you down, making you tired and weary, causing you to stumble and fall.  The root cause of all such drag on your life is sin, as Hebrews says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”  The drag caused by sin is so great that unless overcome it will pull you straight down into hell.

“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.”  God has engineered a way to completely eliminate the drag caused by sin, so that you will soar straight into heaven.

On the TV show “Mythbusters” they tested whether or not following with a car close behind a semi-truck really does save gas.  Using professional drivers, they found that if you get really close, actually too close to be safe, it does indeed work.  The way it works is that the drag on the car is reduced, because the car is enveloped and pulled along in the wake of the truck.

Jesus does not just reduce, but he eliminates the drag caused by sin, by enveloping you in his holiness.  Stick close to Jesus and he will pull you right up with him into heaven.  Paul puts it this way in 2nd Corinthians, “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus . . . and bring us into his presence.”

25,300 miles per hour.  I grew up during the Apollo space program, and I remember memorizing that statistic in grade school.  That is the earth’s “escape velocity,” the speed that must be achieved by rockets to break away from the earth’s gravitational pull and enter into the heavens.

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, broke for you the shackles of sin, and achieved for you escape velocity from this world.  Through his life of perfect obedience, and his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, he earned for you, by his sacrifice in your place, forgiveness of all your sins.  As Paul says in Colossians, “He forgave us all our sins . . . he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”  Jesus broke for you the shackles of sin and achieved for you escape velocity from this world, so that you will soar with him straight into heaven.  “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.”

However, as long as we remain in this world, we are still burdened with the lingering effects of sin, like a drag on your life, pulling you down, making you tired and weary.  Paul puts it this way in 2nd Corinthians, “We have a dwelling from God, an eternal house in heaven . . .  Meanwhile we groan . . . and are burdened.”

We are burdened in this life with the drag of guilt.  Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”  But, lingering guilt, often over things from long ago, can pull you down, and hold you back from the joyous, abundant, full life your Savior wants you to have.  The Lord says in Hebrews, “I will forgive their iniquities and will remember their sins no more.”  You can forgive yourself, because God has both forgiven and forgotten whatever it is that’s dragging you down with guilt.

We are burdened in this life with the drag of worry, as Jesus says,  “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with . . . the anxieties of life.”  Paul says in Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  “Cast all your anxiety on him,” Peter says, “for he cares for you.”  “So do not worry about your life,” Jesus says, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  Release yourself from the drag of worry by doing as Psalm 37 says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in him . . .  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

We are burdened in this life with the drag of sickness, like Peter’s mother-in-law in today’s Gospel Reading.  Today’s Introit from Psalm 103 assures us, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”  For Christians, sickness is never a punishment from God, because there is nothing left to punish, your sins have all been forgiven, as the Introit says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” 

Paul assures in Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”  Although it is hard for us to understand, even the difficult and distressing things of life, like sickness, are somehow used by God for our good.  And, just as Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law and many others in today’s Gospel Reading, he promises, “I am with you always . . .  Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  Hebrews assures us, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’  So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’”

Paul says in Philippians, “He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body,” and Revelation tells us that in heaven, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”  Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are bringing us to an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 

“[The Lord] gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.”

The only way for a rocket to achieve escape velocity and break away from the earth’s gravitation is with a series of boosters, like they had on the big rockets in the Apollo program.  That is also what you need to escape this world into heaven: a series of boosters.  For many of us, the first stage booster was our Baptism, which Paul describes in Titus as, “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  Worship here in the Lord’s house is your weekly spiritual booster.  The Word of God gives you guidance in your journey.  Holy Communion is like spiritual fuel to power your ascent.  And in prayer you are talking to mission control on your voyage toward heaven.

Sin and all the cares and sorrows of this world are like spiritual drag that is pulling you down, making you tired and weary, causing you to stumble and fall.  “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.”

Amen.

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