Daily Devotion for December 9, 2020

Opening Up to Hope
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.  (Isaiah 40:11)

If you have been hurting and you have been wondering, "does God sees what is going on?"  if you have been wondering if you have a future, take hope! Because Isaiah is reminding us that God sees our suffering and is already acting to bring us healing. God is already moving toward us. My question is, "Can you begin to see the signs of God’s movement toward you?"

Is there a friend who is encouraging you? Is there a spouse or children who support you and encourage you? Is there a parent who has always been there for you? Is there a person of faith standing with you?

I will never forget when I was in high school. There was a time when I started hanging with the wrong group of people. I was never really a bad kid. I was just doing things that I know my parents didn’t want me to be doing. I had drifted away from faith.

One day, I went to church to pick up my mom from a circle that she attended. I remember what happened next, and where I was standing in that church, as if it happened yesterday. I was in the stairwell, between the youth room and the fellowship hall when I saw her. 
Mildred Nelson was my third grade teacher. She has as much to do with me being in ministry today as anyone does. Mildred stood all of five feet tall. She came up to me and she said, “Scott!” with her arms open gave me a hug, “It is good to see you.”

In that moment, I felt loved by Mildred, who always had the ability to make one of her children feel loved. And I was one of her children.

Then she stood back from me and looked at me sternly and said, “What is this I hear that you are having a hard time? What is this I hear that you are getting into trouble? Have you forgotten how loved you are here? Have you forgotten that we will walk with you through anything you have to face?”

Well, that caught me by surprise. The reality is that I had forgotten. And I wasn’t sure what to do with that. It took someone like Mildred to let me know that I was still loved. I was still valued.

I went home and found my Bible and said, "Okay God, if you are out there, if you are real. Let me know. Speak to me through something in this book." And I opened the Scriptures and I put my finger on some words from Isaiah. The words are,

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond us giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. Even though young men grow weary and stumble, those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be tired, they will walk and not be weary."

Now, I don’t recommend that method of reading scripture, but on that day, I took it as a powerful sign that the God of my friend Mildred, was there for me to walk with me and guide me through whatever challenges I was facing. I have learned that lesson over and over in the years since. And Isaiah knows it too. May we find a way to turn our hearts and lives to the One who points us to hope and healing.

Prayer:  Gracious God, thank you for drawing near to us. You have always been the God who comes. Help us to open our eyes to see the ways in which you come to us. Help us to open our hearts, so we can live in and through your presence. Touch those you need to touch through us on this day. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.