I was reading something on the life of William Carey (the missionary to India) the other week and noted that it was a sermon on Isaiah 54:2-3 which gave him his life’s mission. The passage reads:
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.”
In 1792, when Carey preached on this verse, the title of his message was: “Expect Great Things from God; Attempt Great things for God”.
Looking at this verse, it occurs to me that “Enlargement” is an encouragement to think big, dream big and get a bigger perspective.
When a black dot is put on a screen, this always becomes the focus, rather than the big white screen. We need to make God bigger, not the small issues of life. God is bigger than opposition, crisis, disappointment, health, financial problems, or whatever it is you’re dealing with.
In what do we place our hope? “Stretching” involves getting past our current limits (“I press on…” says Paul), which operates like making a muscle stronger.
“Do not hold back” involves overcoming fear. There are times when we need to do things that make us afraid, and break the hold it has over us.
“Lengthen” is to go further in output and effort. Going the extra mile is extra, not normal.
“Strengthen” involves the development of character, which enables us to deal with the things that come. If we are not strong on the inside, we will be moved from our path when trials come.