The Christian's Air-Ship
Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary…

I. NOTE CERTAIN FACTS OF AERIAL FLIGHT to illustrate some experience of a soul elevated to fellowship with God.

1. As with the aeronaut so with the Christian, the higher he rises from earth the smaller the world appears. Afflictions seem "light" and "but for a moment." Honour, wealth, and all material things seem mere earth toys.

2. As with the air navigator, so with the Christian rising from the earth, impurities and discord are left below. The soul that waits upon God and rises to the high privileges tendered by the grace of God, rises above the nauseating vices and conquering swarms of poisonous temptations, and the annoying, stinging adversities incident to sinful human life.

3. As with the sailor of the air in his realm, so with the Christian in his, each gets a better, broader view and a truer perspective as he rises. To the aeronaut the horizon is widened. True experimental religion is exceedingly broad, sane, and tolerant. It holds truest ideas as well as loftiest ideals. Not he who comes close and stays close to some little wall of prejudice, some river of personal preference, some mountain of hereditary impulse, or some self-constructed village of creeds, but he who on wings of faith rises to higher altitudes for observation and sees all and each in its relation to all others — such hold opinions most in accord with truth.

4. As with the navigator of the air in his realm, so with the Christian in the spiritual realm, each is inspired with healthful vigour as he rises, the one on the wings of the wind and the other on the wings of an intelligent, rational faith and the exercise of his soul in prayer. Dr. Naiger, at a meeting of the Academy of Medicine in France, tells us that ascension into the air acts as a powerful tonic; that the red corpuscles of blood are multiplied in a remarkable degree and with astonishing rapidity; further, that the recuperated condition remains for some time after the navigator returns to the ground. He gives it as his professional opinion that five brief air-ship trips are of more value to a consumptive than would be a summer in the mountains. As Christians, we cannot get permanently away from the world of sin any more than the air navigator can get permanently away from terra firma. We go like the disciples of old with Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration, to our public and private devotions, to gather strength for the duties that will appear in the valley.


1. One principle which has been quite lately discovered, and which is held by at least one school of aerial scientists, is that the elevating power and the propelling power must be from the same source, and all are agreed that they must be in harmony, and so arranged that they will in no way conflict. The balloon idea as an elevating power is constantly lifting straight upward, while a propelling power of some kind of enginery drawing horizontally is constantly in conflict with the elevating power. Prof. Thomas May, in The Aeronautical Journal, declares that before there can be successful navigation of the air, the propelling power and the elevating power must be in exact harmony, if not produced by the same appliance Some very successful experiments have been made with "gliding-machines," the balloon idea having been abandoned in these appliances. And with this principle the Wright brothers have been enabled to move their machines near the earth or far away as they choose, sometimes gliding only a few inches from the surface. For the Christian to make progress in his spiritual flight, whether near to or far from the earth, this principle must be rigidly enforced and carefully observed. God's Spirit is the elevating power. Our own wills and purposes constitute the propelling power of the soul. These must be in harmony with the will of God, be submerged into His will, so that the elevating power and the propelling power are one in every essential, though some way God needs the modifying elements of our own consecrated purposes. For while "we can do nothing without Him," it is equally true that in practical, spiritual grace He has so arranged His plans that He does nothing without us.

2. Note one more principle of aerodynamics, which is called the Langley law because it was discovered and applied by Prof. S.P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the inventor of an air-ship device known as Langley's aeridrome. The law is that as the speed of a flying-machine increases, the power necessary to propel it decreases in definite proportions. Theoretically, this is true indefinitely; but, practically, only to a certain limit. Just why, when the working hypothesis is tried, the experiment fits the theory only to a certain limit, has not yet been fully explained; but the theory has been demonstrated so that it is worthy of a place among scientific principles. The law certainly prevails within the limit of natural and acquired ability, and modified by opportunity, in the human soul in its operations in the spiritual realm. The more decidedly and persistently, determinedly and vigorously, the Christian prosecutes his spiritual movements, the easier it becomes for him to do so, and he finds by practical experiment that as he advances he is able to accomplish more and more with less and less of propelling power. More and more he speeds along with less of emotional feeling and persistent determination.

(F. W. Luce, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

WEB: But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint.

The Blessedness of Divine Service
Top of Page
Top of Page