Adapted from Pastor Michael’s meditation on June 18, 2017, based on Exodus 19:1-8.
This is a morning for reflecting on journeys. We’ve got the personal journeys of faith represented in our new members that we’ve received. This in turn reminds us of our own personal faith journeys, and the journey of our church as a whole as we seek to faithfully follow Jesus. And in our Scripture passage this morning we have the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Mount Sinai.
As I was reflecting on this passage for this morning I was struck by the difference between the view from above and the view on the ground. Our text gives us God’s view from above, as God says to Israel, “I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” That’s God’s summary of all the events that have just happened: Israel leaving Egypt and making their way to the mountain where God makes a covenant with them.
“I carried you on eagles’ wings.” That’s God’s view from above.
The view from the ground? Go back through Exodus 13-18. First Israel was cornered by the Egyptian armies and they were sure they were going to die. Then they marched through the desert without water, then without food, then without water again, and each time they were sure they were going to die. And at each impending disaster, they grumbled against God and complained against Moses, certain they were going the wrong way and convinced that God had even abandoned them.
The view from the ground was a recurring pattern of “Woe is us, we’re going to die!”
But God’s view from above? “I carried you on eagles’ wings.”
There are many lessons from this for us. One is a lesson for us as a church.
There are so many good things going on among us. Just think back to the last few Sundays, what we have experienced together. Our partnership in the gospel with Nathan and Taryn Dirks, who have been witness workers in Botswana the past few years. Our vibrant children’s ministry and youth program, evident with the youth sharing their gifts in leading the morning worship service a few weeks ago, or the Sunday school wrap-up and church picnic the following Sunday. Sharing communion together, enjoying beautiful music, welcoming new members.
Those Sunday services have captured just a glimpse of what’s going on among us. We have an active seniors ministry and a powerful women’s ministry. We have faithful care groups and service groups and refugee support group and more. We had a packed Lent Bible Study series and a full Faith Foundations class this spring, with youth and young adults now looking toward baptism. Lives are being transformed as we open ourselves up to Jesus.
The view from above is spectacular: God is carrying us on eagles’ wings.
Yet it’s not always easy to see the good things going on at church. Sometimes our particular concerns cloud our vision. Like the ancient Israelites, there may be some grumbling and complaining along the way. At times we may even feel we’re on the wrong track as a church, and that God may soon abandon us—if he hasn’t already.
If that’s where you’re at, I encourage you to see the bigger picture, the view from above. God is very much at work among us! God is bearing us up on eagles’ wings! Do not lose heart, and do not give in to fear and discontent.
But there’s also a lesson for us as individuals, isn’t there?
We’ve heard testimony this morning of God working and moving in our new members’ lives to bring them to where they are at today—God has “borne them up on eagles’ wings.” Yet I know that this God’s-eye view has not always been evident to each of these new members in the nitty-gritty of everyday life. They have walked through heartache and pain, death and disease, doubt and grief. The view from the ground has not always been rosy.
And yet, through it all, God has indeed carried them on eagles’ wings. As God did with Israel in the Exodus, as God is doing with us as a church, so God has done in their lives—meeting them at every place of need, walking with them through every desert, giving them just what they need just when they need it, their manna from heaven, their “daily bread.”
And so God is doing in each of our lives.
What circumstances are you walking through right now that feels like a wandering in the desert?
What situation are you facing that feels like a desperate thirst, parched for living water?
What gnawing hunger are you experiencing today, aching for bread from heaven?
Whatever you are going through, wherever your journey is at, I urge you to trust in the God who provides all your deepest needs, right at your most desperate moment of need. I encourage you to look for glimpses of that view from above, that God’s-eye view of things, and see the ways that God is in fact carrying you on eagles’ wings.
God is here among us. And God is here with you. Always, and forever.