On eagles' wings
Yesterday morning I sat and listened to the regular Monday
morning devotion which is always taken by our director. His talks are always
well-attended because of the interest value he instils in them by using many
examples from the Bible and presenting them in story form. As he is leaving the
ship tomorrow, we were all on time, determined not to miss any of it.
This time he spoke on the habits of an eagle and went through
the picture of the father eagle flying around and picking up twigs and thorns
and branches and entwining them together, way up on a high, craggy ledge, to
form a nest. When this is complete, he flies around scanning the ground for soft
material like rabbit's fur and feathers. After arranging it all neatly on top
of the thorny, twiggy foundation, the nest becomes a warm and inviting place to
sit in and not long afterwards, the mother eagle lays her eggs and the parents
patiently await their hatching.
What a lovely family picture it makes to see two eagles
proudly watching their offspring struggle out of the eggshell and tumble around
on the soft warmth of the nest lining and day after day, they find the food
necessary to sustain the little lives and to help them grow bigger and stronger.
These little eaglets have been designed to fly but at the
moment, they can't. They just continue to live in this comfortable environment
and to eat and grow and life is just wonderful.
One day however, their father seems to go berserk. He starts
to rip up the soft lining of the nest and throwing it over the side, he moves
around the nest and continues to demolish it until he's down to the thorny,
twiggy foundation. The little eaglets are horrified and are very uncomfortable
because they're not used to living in these conditions so they stand on the
side of the nest in order to avoid being pricked by the twigs, and wonder
miserably what has gotten into their father.
When their father lifts his great wings and starts to flap
them, they brace themselves and dig their little talons deeply into the rim of
the nest so that they won't be blown over the side and when they realise that
their father is deliberately hovering over the nest and forcing the great gusts
of wind towards them, they really start to panic and cry out, "Dad, what are
you doing? If you don't stop that, we'll fall out of the nest!" But the
flapping wings continue inexorably until the little eaglets lose their strength
one by one and let go.
As they're falling, they instinctively start to flap their
little wings but nothing happens and they can see the world turning around in
front of them as they tumble down the distance separating them from the ground
and certain death. They can see their father flying above them and then, to
their surprise, he suddenly appears below them and as they land on his neck,
they clutch gratefully at his feathers and gasp, "Please, don't do that
again -– you'll kill us!"
Their father soars upwards and a few seconds later, they are
back in the now uncomfortable nest and perched on the rim again. They wait
nervously, pondering the bad dream they've just been through and when they see
their father's wings start to flap again, a feeling of doom enters their
little souls and over the side they go again. Once more, they flap but it's
just a useless beating of the air. Their father catches them, soars up, deposits
them on the side of the nest and then starts to hover and flap once more.
Finally, they get to the point where they are so tired and
have ceased to speculate on what's wrong with their father. They just accept
their fate and fall but all of a sudden, while watching their father on the way
down, they notice that he holds his wings in a certain way and so, having
nothing to lose but a lot to gain, they try it. Imagine their elation when they
discover that they're hovering! Eventually, they learn to fly as they were
designed to do from the beginning of creation.
God's use of the eagle as an example is not coincidental.
It is a beautiful and strong bird which typifies the majesty and power of God.
In Exodus 19:4-5, God points out to the Israelites, "You yourselves have
seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought
you to Myself. Now if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all
nations you will be My treasured possession."
Just as the father eagle cares enough about his babies to
make the nest uncomfortable and to teach them to fly - thus ensuring their
survival - so the Father cares about us and wants to give us the skills we need,
not just for survival, but also to mount up and soar on the wings He has given
us. The promise that He has spoken in Exodus gives us more than enough reason to
trust Him even when our nest gets uncomfortable and it feels like He's
deliberately throwing us out of the nest.
Isaiah 40:31 tells us that if we wait on the Lord, our
strength will be renewed and we'll fly like eagles. I don't know about you
but I personally would rather be flying by God's strength (and be His
treasured possession) than be walking by my own, of no value to anyone.
One of the men who was listening to the devotion, (and whose
future is uncertain at this point), when asked where he felt he was in the
growing process of being an eaglet replied, "I feel like I'm holding on to
the side of the nest for dear life, awaiting a jolly good kick to my rear end."
The next question is, "Do we trust the Father?"