Eagles and turkeys
Out of the animal kingdom, if asked to select one that has
impacted me the most, I'd have to choose the eagle. Firstly because I am
fascinated by its habits and its strength and secondly because it the animal
that God uses pictorially the most as the one able to survive against bad odds
and not just to survive, but to soar!
By contrast, one of the birds that I would think about the
least (unless roasted and stuffed on a platter around Christmas time), would be
the turkey. A noisy bird that makes a rather unattractive gobbling sound, it, as
part of a group, roams our farms in New Zealand with no particular benefit to
the environment and no particular disadvantages either (unless you step in
something that it's left behind). Not known for its vigilance, the group
huddle in trees or on fenceposts to sleep at night, making them an easy prey to
catch. They can fly short distances and land with a sort of controlled crash -–
not the most inspiring bird really...
In my list of great heroes of the faith, I would have to
number Anne Graham Lotz -– not because she is Billy Graham's daughter -– but
because she loves God's Word and it shows through her speaking. In her book,
"Just Give Me Jesus", she asks, "How have you reacted to the storm? A
turkey and an eagle react in different ways to the threat of a storm. A turkey
reacts by running under the barn, hoping the storm won't come near it. On the
other hand, an eagle leaves the security of its nest and spreads its wings to
ride the air currents of the approaching storm, knowing the wind will carry it
higher in the sky than it could soar on its own. So which are you -– a turkey
or an eagle -– in the way you react to the storms of life?
Within a period of 18 months, my family experienced one storm
after another. From Hurricane Fran, which downed 102 trees in our yard, to the
fire that consumed my husband's dental office, to the weddings of all three of
our children, to Jonathan's cancer and surgery, we have reeled from one
emergency or crisis to another. In the whirlwind, I have discovered I am an
emotional turkey. I want to withdraw from the emotional pain and burdensome
demands and frenzied activities and unending responsibilities. I want to run
under the barn with my wings over my head and hide from friends and family who
feel ignored or slighted, misunderstanding my busyness and preoccupation as
indifference or arrogance. I want to escape the hurt.
Yet I have chosen to be an eagle in my spirit. And in
the midst of the storm, when I have spread my wings of faith to embrace the "Wind",
placing my dependency upon Jesus and Jesus alone, I have experienced quiet, "everyday"
miracles...Soaring has become an adventure of discovering just how faithful He
can be when I am way out of my comfort zone in the stratosphere over the storm.
In fact, soaring has become so exhilarating that I increasingly find I am no
longer content to live in the barnyard of familiarity just for its relative
security. I want to live by faith!...
This growth in depth and strength and consistency and
fruitfulness and ultimately in Christlikeness is only possible when the winds of
life are contrary to personal comfort. Just as storms make it possible for
eagles to soar, so suffering makes it possible for you and me to attain the
highest pinnacles in the Christian life. Suffering develops our faith."
What characteristics did God build into the eagle upon its
creation, that make this bird indomitable against all odds? Is it the bird
itself? The short answer to that is 'no'. Eagles struggle with predators,
sickness and circumstances just like other birds but it is the way it reacts to
these struggles that brings renewed strength as mentioned in the well-known
passage from Isaiah 40:31 -– "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."
If a storm is threatening, eagles do not fly out of the way
to avoid it, they confront it head on and use it to soar. A Nigerian man named
Dr Steve Ogan, is an evangelist, teacher and conference speaker in Africa. He
has this to say -– "One of the key features of an eagle is its knack to
retreat to renew its strength in moments of weakness. When an eagle, for one
reason or the other, begins to eat stale meat, it develops a calcium-infested
beak and weak wings. It begins to die gradually. An eagle that should normally
live for 130 years could die at 40 years of age. Some eagles realise this death
process and fly back to the mountainous area, upon a rock, to renew their
The eagle stays on the mountain for about 30 days, during
which time it eats no food, only drinking water from the rock. While on this
retreat, the first thing it does is to pull off all the weak feathers that
hinder flight, preparing itself for the restoration of its power to mount high.
It then breaks its calcium-infested beak on the rock in an action symbolic of
When the eagle goes on retreat, it remains on the mountain
for 30 days, during which time fresh feathers develop and strength is renewed.
At the end of the time of "waiting", a bag of oil grows underneath the wings
of the eagle, new beaks are formed and fresh feathers are developed. With the
new beak, the eagle pierces the bag of oil and anoints itself. It then stands on
the rock waiting for the right wind which comes and helps it to mount up without
flapping its wings." (End quote.)
The important points that I noticed in this renewing of
- it retreats to be by itself in a lonely place
- it fasts
- it takes all the time necessary for renewal -– doesn't
try to rush it
- it gets rid of 'weak feathers' that hinder flight
- it breaks its calcium-infested beak
- it waits for the new feathers and beak to grow
- it anoints itself with the oil provided
- then it waits for the right wind to fly on
The other day I was trying to deal with some issues that were
quite uncomfortable and really wasn't coping very well with it. At the time, I
was reading through a book that spoke of spending the day with the Lord and
decided to put it into practice. It wasn't until I was writing this article
that I realised that during the day, many of these principles were applied (didn't
have a calcium-infested beak so I broke something else that was a problem
instead). At the end of the day I looked back with joy on what had taken place
(remember, the Lord gives the oil of joy for mourning...) and felt like I was
ready to take on the world again. I was ready to fly!