Hope for the Traveler-Isaiah 43:1-7

2001 Space OdysseyImagine a cartoon in two frames.  The first dated 1968; two young people come out of theater with the marquee reading 2001: A Space Odyssey.  One says to the other, “Won’t it be great when we can fly to other planets in the year 2001?”  Second frame, year 2001.  Same couple, all grown up, at the desk of an airline agent who says to them, “There are no flights to Des Moines until Tuesday and your bags went to Miami.

When Arthur Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey that Stanley Kubrick put to film, he imagined a future brimming with hope, fueled by science and technology.  Some things turned out as predicted; most didn’t.  Pan Am was supposed to carry us to distant planets as easily as Southwest to takes us to Lubbock.  But, Pan Am has been grounded for more than a two decades since going bust.  The optimism of that day bumped up against the realism of a new day.  Counting on things to improve by our ingenuity is as risky as counting on science fiction to become science reality.

Every one of us want to travel into a future and beyond with a real hope.  Yet, we want to know what happens in our tomorrow doesn’t just depend solely on our good faith efforts, faltering resolve, and sometimes broken promises.  Experiences of past failures shouldn’t leave us hopeless; preventing us from imagining our future.  We can travel with hope into tomorrow; despite cynical voices crying, “futile, futile, it is all so futile”.

This passage takes us back to a people who knew something about odysseys into the unknown.  The Hebrew people were experts on faith travel despite living in a world of endless cycles of life and death, seasons changing one into the other with nothing new under the sun.  God’s chosen people held a unique vision of the world.Exodus

The story of the children of Israel begins as they are caught in slavery; working for the man in Egypt.  God draws them out of bondage; leading them to freedom.  They knew nothing had to remain the way it was; things could change for the better.  There was a God more powerful than the powers-to-be that seemed in control, which could be trusted to take them into the hope of their future.  God’s people spent the first half of their existence; learning the lessons of a God who delivered them from Pharaoh’s hand, and provided for them in the exodus.

Like adolescents, they went their own way; experiencing the consequences of being carried off to Babylon.  Isaiah chastises them for their misbehavior.  After becoming captives again, Isaiah’s tone changes; they need not fear; God will lead them home.  Isaiah assures them there is a second half of life coming; if they are willing to journey with God by faith again.  They do; and their faith is built on the exodus and exile lessons, events which led us and them to the “fullness of time [when] God sends God’s son”.

Faith travelers see the future differently because they have the benefit of looking backwards into the history Gods people recorded in scripture.  There we find lessons to draw on as we travel into a new day.  This instruction allows us to possess a sure hope based on God’s promises of a real future; affirming there is a God who goes with us on our faith odysseys.  We can step out in faith with deep conviction to what tomorrow might bring.

FutureWe all hesitate.  Taking a step of faith towards the future is taking a step toward possible misunderstandings and temptation.  Frankly, faith pilgrims aren’t just concerned; most are ‘plain scared’.  They know they must launch out on this faith journey, it’s key to living well for the rest of their lives.

The fact we need such a journey of faith, isn’t always obvious.  Those still developing in their faith in the first half of life are usually not ready.  In the first half of live, we learn the rules; the same rules we may break in the second half of life answering God’s call.  We move from the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes in the second half of life.  This is what happened to Abraham, Paul, John Wesley, Vickie and Darrow Frazier, and many of you who have set sail on a faith odyssey in the second half of life.  You heard a new voice calling and shunned the voice of what you were told was the sure way to follow God, for God was doing a new thing.

The second half of life has nothing to do with chronological age.  The second half of life is when we are more ready to use what we learned in the first half of our lives and jump into an unknown journey.  We’ve developed an abiding trust that God is good and heaven’s promises can be trusted.  Faith journeys are the places where spiritual growth happens and a mature hope blossoms as we bear fruit in fully following God into a new day.2nd half of life

The second half life isn’t about finding ourselves; though it will become clearer, who God made us to be on a faith journey.  At this stage of life’s travels we’re afforded opportunities to know better the person who is being made more perfect in love.  We overcome the lingering effects of sin that mar us in the first half of life.  We reconnect to the original love bestowed on us lavishly by God who made, named, and claimed us before we could do a thing to deserve heaven’s notice.  We enter into union with God.

Israel started as slaves, unable to do a thing to effect her freedom or future.  God made her people God’ own; loving them before they could make God proud.  In the midst of the journey, whey they failed and fell into captivity, God redeemed and reclaimed them.  They would come to know God fully after captivity and their faith journey back to rebuild the land of promise.

You are MineThe second half of life is about walking with God in simple faith; fully embracing God’s love and claim on us.  We do not take faith journeys to make a name for ourselves; instead we accept the name given to us by God, so we may glorify God’s name.  The odyssey may be filled with many a danger, toil, and snare.  We do not fear; God is with us; making the way and making us over as we journey in faith.  There’s nothing we can do, be, or place we can go, which can prevent God from holding onto us in love.

The view of the Grand Canyon from above is an awesome spectacle; but it doesn’t account for the danger below.  In 1869 a one-armed Civil War veteran named Major John Wesley Powell determined to be the first to explore the full length of the vast canyon.  He headed out with three boats and nine men, against the advice of Indians who predicted certain death.

During the trek, O. G. Howland, his brother Seneca, and Bill Dunn, tried to convince Powell to quit because the rapids were so terrifying. The objectors left the group; attempting to walk to civilization.  The place where they left is known as Separation Canyon.  They were killed by Indians who took them for miners who, they thought, had killed an Indian woman.  Powell’s group survived; having two more sets of rapids before sailing into calm water.Grand Canyon

Fear conquered some; some conquered fear.  Fear grabs us when we think we think we’re alone and not up to the challenge.  It’s in the challenge; we come to know fully the possibilities of faith.  Faith is learned when we face down fear with the confidence that God will see us through.  Whether we are caught in fix of our own doing or an unforeseen event, God promises to travel with us and bring us out if we will step out faithfully; taking an odyssey that leads us forward, back home to the arms of our God.

In Castaway, Tom Hanks’ plane went down at sea and maroons him with meager resources to stay alive.  Chuck Noland, Hank’s character, makes it through the ordeal, because he refused to let himself believe he was alone.  His best friend on the island is Wilson, who looked like a volley ball; along with a picture of his girlfriend, Kelly.  They were his hope.  If something and someone can help, who really is not there; how much more does it mean to have the God of the Universe to really be there with us along our journeys?  Travel with hope, the perils may seem great; but the presence and promises of God are greater.  Do not fear!  God is with us!

Trust Dice

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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