The little girl was thrilled. It was like a dream come true. Her father had promised to one day take her to Disney World. And that day came. When they arrived, she headed straight for Space Mountain. Dad was a bit worried—she hadn’t been there before, and he thought the roller-coaster would be too scary for her. But no, she wanted to go. And so, they both got on—twice. A few years later, dad and daughter returned to the magical park, and back to Magic Kingdom. They joined the long line, and dad could see his daughter studying the signs that warned of the speed. “Dad, I don’t think I want to go”. He was a bit surprised. “Why be nervous about a ride you’ve enjoyed previously?” And she said “This year I can read”.
A simple story. But how interesting. The older we get, things change, and we start asking questions more and more. What will become of my health? Who will take care of me when I’m old and sick? Will I have the strength to live a long and healthy life? I think they are natural questions to ask. Maybe you’ve asked them of yourself.
Here’s the point I want to make today. My task today is not to have the strength for tomorrow’s burdens. My task today is to live by the mercies God has given me. The big lesson is learning to live one day at a time. God will provide his mercy and strength tomorrow when we need it. That adds up to relying on the Lord. Proverbs 3:5 says, “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgement”. But do we really trust God with everything?
The classic story is told of Blondin who was a 19th-century acrobat, famous for his tightrope act 160 feet above Niagara Falls on a rope which was over a thousand-feet long. In 1860 a royal party from Britain saw Blondin cross the tightrope on stilts, and again blindfolded. After that he stopped halfway and cooked and ate an omelette. Next he wheeled a wheelbarrow from one side to the other, and returned with a sack of potatoes in it.
Then Blondin approached the royal party. He asked the Duke of Newcastle, “Do you believe I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?” “Yes, I do”, said the Duke.”Hop in, then”, replied Blondin. Well, the Duke declined Blondin’s challenge. He might have believed Blondin could do it, but he wasn’t about to trust him with his life.
Simply believing in God is no good to us. We are to have faith, and trust is the practical outworking of faith. Faith in God sometimes seems like a nebulous, airy-fairy concept, doesn’t it? It’s hard to pin down exactly what it means; it’s hard to know whether we really have ‘faith’. We can understand trust, though, can’t we? After all we find ourselves having to trust people every day.
We trust whoever built our house that it’s not going to fall in on our heads. We trust the bank with our money. We trust the pilot on our next plane trip is competent. We invest a tremendous amount of trust in the pilot, the maintenance crews and the air-traffic control people. We exercise trust all the time, quite unthinkingly. We know what it means. Trust is the practical outworking of faith: it is when we trust God that we show that our faith in him is real.
A favourite reading for many people comes from Isaiah 40: “The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the earth. He never gets tired or weary. His wisdom cannot be measured. The Lord gives strength to those who are weary..those who trust the Lord will find new strength”. (verses 25-31).
Life can make us weary and can be challenging—it can deplete us from the strength we need to get out of bed and do the things we are required to do. A meaningful and personal relationship with God can give us inner energy and strength that can sustain us. Engaging in spiritual exercises like prayer, reading the Bible and abiding in God’s presence can help us tap into special power that only God can provide.
When we are alone with God—when we ‘wait’ on him, we are able to receive his strength. When we believe and trust what we read in scripture and in how God works, our hope is bolstered. This strong belief and hope, grounded in scripture, can give us strength. It’s the same strength that the psalmist writes about in Psalm 138:3 when he says: “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.”