What's Tony Thinking

What Sharon Knew


During the summers we worship at the Methodist Church in Joseph, Oregon — or at least we did back when people actually went to church.

Worship begins there with a hymn sing. And every week, Sharon, a quite elderly woman who died this year, would called out her selection: “On Eagle’s Wings.” That song is based on a part of this week’s Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 40, v. 31.

“. . . but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint.”

There was a certain irony in Sharon’s request. She was not only pretty elderly. Sharon was also what people in my grandparent’s generation would have called “crippled up.” Her day’s of running and not being weary were well behind her. She hobbled to her pew, back right, with a cane. Toward the end she wore a back brace that looked uncomfortable.

I didn’t know Sharon well. One Sunday, I did happen to sit in her customary spot, a fact of which she apprised me, though not with any anger or offense. Just, “that’s where I sit.” No problem, I moved over.

I did learn that Sharon was active in a local AA group. I suspect that the request for “Eagle’s Wings” from this gray-haired and wizened warrior reflected the wisdom of AA, we live in and by the strength of a power not our own, of a Higher Power. As folks in 12-Step programs like to say, “(insert your name), there is a God, and it’s not you.”

When we rely solely on our own strength or wits or virtue, we become totally exhausted. Wiped out. Hence, just before the verse quoted above, the prophet writes, “Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted, but those who wait for the Lord . . .”

You can be young and bright, but you’ll still burn out if you think it’s all up to you. You can be old and stiff, as was Sharon, but still running the race with a light spirit, because you know that God is God, that there is a Higher Power, that “the Lord is an everlasting God . . .” (40:28)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling sort of exhausted lately. Worn out by focusing too much on politics and the daily (hourly) political posturing, worn out by all the consternation about the vaccine and line-jumping bs, worn out by “what’s happening now,” whether stock market bubbles or Majorie Taylor Greene, or you name it.

When we live in our own strength alone, when we take things like the never-ending human struggle for power too seriously or are undone by human selfishness, we get exhausted.

Time then to “rest in the Lord,” “to wait for the Lord,” which does not mean going limp, although a nap never hurts. It means letting God be God, letting God uphold you, lift you, restore you and use you as she wilt.

Time for perspective. Time for extending grace to yourself. You’re not really in charge. Time for letting God be God for you. These are the things that Sharon knew.


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