The Lord Has Renewed Our Strength

I had the privilege of preaching this fall at Rising Star Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas to help them celebrate their 87th anniversary. They got their start in 1931 meeting in a restaurant/bar called The Greasy Spoon near what is now the corner of Rosedale and I-35. They have grown and done great work and worship over these last 87 years.

You can listen to the whole sermon above; here is a piece of it:

There is a third form of Isaiah’s promise: they shall walk and not faint. On the face of it, this is not a very impressive promise—to walk and not faint.
To soar with eagles,
to run and not grow weary…
to walk and not faint?
This seems like the least of the three forms of divine strength.

Some have questioned the sequence of these promises. Don’t we walk, and then run, and then finally soar? I mean, You can really preach a sermon that way… You’re walking, you’re running, you’re soaring. Isn’t that the progression?

That’s the sermon. This is not the way to do it, not how I’m doing it today, how Isaiah has it. It ought to be you’re walking, now you’re running, now you’re soaring.

Maybe. But
for those who have experienced a great crisis of loss
or grief or hurt,
for those who have been laid low by life,
they understand that’s not always how it goes.

To walk and not faint is the promise of endurance, and what is more difficult than putting one foot in front of the other
when you find yourself surrounded by powerful
forces you cannot change and
when there is nothing to do but try to hold on and
endure?

As John Claypool famously said, When there is
no occasion to soar and
not room to run,
to walk and not faint, small as it may seem to some, becomes everything.

And that is where the climactic strength of God comes. When nothing else is possible,
the strength to endure is given,
the gift of patience,
the gift of holding on,
the gift of remaining upright.
This is not the only way God comes to us, but when you find yourself at the end of your rope, it becomes the most crucial of all.

46 years ago John Claypool stood in the pulpit of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth where I was formerly the Pastor. It was three years after the death of his eleven year old daughter from Leukemia.

Someone had asked him if, in the darkest moment of his life, the death of his daughter, if his faith had really made a difference. Had it made any difference. This is what he said:
“All I can say is that for me, in my place of darkness, there was no ecstasy. Neither was there an infusion of light or power that gave me conclusive “answers” as to why this was happening or practical solutions of things that could be done.

“I still, to this day, do not understand why innocent little children have to suffer, and I did my very best for eighteen months to find a solution to leukemia but was unsuccessful. Thus, there was no experience of “running and not being weary.”

“Yet I can report honestly that strength to “walk and not faint” was given. No ecstasy. No great energy. Just the gift of endurance—that was all that met me in the depths of darkness.

“I did not soar with wings or run a step. But by the grace of God, somehow I stayed on my feet. I did not blow up in presumptive bitterness, neither did I give up in hopeless despair. I was given the gift just to stand and hold on.”

Many times, over the years, the strength that has been found … has been not that of
dancing in joy or
accomplishing greats deeds in the name of God but
in holding on, remaining upright. Putting one foot
in front of the other.
And thank God for that.

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