Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan AME Church
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Scripture: Isaiah 40: 1-7
We are in constant communication with each other – with cell phones, blackberries, instant messaging, notebooks, netbooks, laptops, desk tops – all kinds of fancy gadgets; seemingly we are never out of contact with each other. I see people walking, driving, in the malls, at meetings, grocery stores, even in church texting, talking, twittering. It reminds me of the poem by William Wordsworth: “The world is too much with us.” We often overhear people going on and on about their business talking on these devices; sometimes we think they are talking to US. But even at this level of communication, some of us go around bewildered, overwhelmed, fearful, alienated, unprepared for what life is about to send your way. We are besieged by crime, poverty, social injustice, sickness, sadness, grief, anxiety, and stress on any given day. We are consumed by fear about our future, fear about the doctor’s diagnosis, fear about our children; we feel adrift and alone.
The scripture text talks about ancient Israel: she had been disobedient; she felt adrift, abandoned, alone. God called out to her on the brink of her extinction under the domination of Babylon. The Prophet appears to assure them that through deadly peril, water, flames, they are adrift, but they are not alone. They will survive all of these devastations because God is with them.
Each day, this nation is overwhelmed with healthcare, terrorism, crime, cutbacks in schools, seniors struggling to survive, among other this. Though we might feel adrift, we are not alone. The 7 verses of the scripture brought re-assurance to the people of Israel. And what God offered to Israel, he offers to us today. You do not face your struggle alone: Divine power is with you. The 7 verses of the scripture provide us 3 salient thoughts today.
1. Never Lose the Knowledge that God Loves You. We belong to God. No matter what, God cares about you. How can a mother not love her child? How can an inventor not own his invention? He cares where you sleep at night; He cares about your economics, your physical and your mental health.
2. We Must Never Lose or Give Up Our Identity in God. We must never be defined outside our walk with God. We are adrift so we search for our identity in all the wrong places. Never let your accomplishments, pedigrees, etc. define who we are. Never let what we hear or see or our iPods or on our computers define who we are. Ultimately, none of these things will deliver us. God is my deliverer; I belong to God.
3. When You Feel Adrift, BE COURAGEOUS!! Know that God has the power to bring you through. Pray, then take the steps you need to take. Don’t stay on your knees praying; don’t sleep all day – GET UP AND DO SOMETHING! God will deliver you; He will turn it all around in HIS own way…in HIS own time. When the children of Israel got to the Red Sea, they were adrift, but God parted the waters and they went through. God has no problem with water; God has no problem with fire. Remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego….their enemies put them in the fire…but they came out and they didn’t even smell like smoke.
The Commentary on the scripture says we can find our comfort, our courage, our strength from the “repetitive I”. You ask: what is the “repetitive I?”
I have redeemed you.
I have called you by my name.
When you pass through this way I will be with you.
The fire will not consume you.
I am with you.
I will bring your offspring to rest.
I created you, I formed you, I made you;
I am your God!