When Linda and I agreed to be the guest facilitators for today’s Lenten devotional, we had not seen Walt Wiltschek’s devotional booklet. So I didn’t know that his story would mean so much to me because I had a similar experience a few years ago.
I was on the top step of a set of risers, singing with the basses in a local community chorus concert when I was struck with a wave of lightheadedness, nausea, and feeling faint. I sat down on the riser and then between numbers gingerly walked down the riser and went backstage, where I spent the rest of the concert feeling sorry for myself that all my hard work to learn the music was wasted.
Sure that the episode had been a one-off, probably brought on by not drinking enough water, not eating enough, or being too hot under the lights, I was again at the top of the riser at the next concert. And it all happened again. I once again slunk off the riser and spent the rest of the concert backstage. A discussion with my doctor led to the conclusion that this would likely continue to happen under those circumstances and my days on the risers with my fellow basses were over.
The alternative was to join a few others who sat on chairs in front of the risers and sing from there. It was a reasonable way to continue with the singing that I loved, but my ego didn’t want any part of it. The story I started telling myself was that those in the chairs were old and had health problems (remember, I was old at this time and had been having health problems!). It was a sign of weakness to have to sit in a chair rather than stand on the risers, I told myself. I would look weak to everyone in the audience and to the other chorus members. My ego got more and more worked up over the situation, trying to convince me it would be better to stop singing than to be seen in a chair in front of the group.
Fortunately, my better self finally took over and I sang from a chair for several more concerts until other changes in my life led to the decision to retire from the chorus.
In the scripture for today, as paraphrased in The Message, Isaiah says “Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, ‘Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you.’”
While Bible commentaries generally agree that Isaiah’s words are meant to be figurative and not literal, telling the people of Israel to take heart and prepare for the reign of the Messiah to come, for those of us who have experienced feeling faint on a choral riser or elsewhere, the notion of strengthening rubbery knees is very personal and literal.
There are times when all of us have limp hands and rubbery knees and we need the encouragement to have courage and take heart. And there are times when we need to remember that God will be putting things right and redressing all wrongs, working through us to bring about his kingdom here on earth. May we remember that it will be so.