The first thing I did is what any Bible scholar of my caliber does to begin a serious study session—I googled eagles—and was delighted at what I saw pop up. Turns out God created these birds in a special way. They were created specifically for strength and skill. Most of the birds I love were created for beauty and song; but not the eagle. They can see fish from several hundred feet above the water. Even fishermen in boats can't see fish with the clarity eagles can from the sky. They have vision that's four times sharper than the human eye; and even have a special lens that allows them to look and fly directly into the sun.
What's even more interesting about these birds is how they handle storms. They seem to have a special sense that detects storms before they arrive. When they sense a storm they actually fly to a high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, the eagle sets its wings so the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. It actually uses the storm to push it up...then hovers and soars above the storm until it subsides.
Most of us do anything we can to avoid storms. Often I don't see them coming, and get blasted with unexpected disappointment at the rain or hail that descends on my tender expectations. I get blinded by the blizzard-like white-out that makes it hard to see my next step. Flooded by the rising pressure of demands, dead-lines, competitive races, or self-inflicted wounds that make me gasp for breath.
Not the eagle. It flies right into the wind and lets it push him upward where he soars while the wind and clouds growl below. The way I see it, we're either wasting our energy flapping in storms or we soar to a higher vantage point and glide above it. The question remains...how? How do we soar rather than flap?
God has two distinct flight plans when it comes to storms, and we must decide which we will adhere to.
Sometimes God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13)
When you don't know what to do and you're fully committed to doing the right thing, God will provide a way out when you feel a storm swallowing you. Sometimes we need His intervening hand to lift us to a higher place when circumstances are pushing us down. The year my brave husband came to me and acknowledged his struggles with infidelity and our life in pro-baseball; the team we were on at the time called to inform us they were sending us back to the same city where indiscretion had taken place. He and I agreed that although we needed the salary to live, we would not go back to that place. We left that team facing the reality of no job and no salary for our family of five. It felt like we’d be smashed by the storm, but suddenly we received a call from a different team that offered us a better job with a team an hour from our home! God provided an escape from the storm that sought to ravage our faith and flight.
Sometimes God gives us strength to be strong and endure it (2 Timothy)
Most sane people don't love bad drama. We don't invite harsh people, difficult health, or devastating news to snuggle next to us at night. But sometimes we will be asked to ride it out...to hang in there...to endure until the storm lifts. The reason is that trials bring perseverance, perseverance brings proven character, and proven character brings hope. The simple truth is we don't have hope and proven character if we don't endure storms. I've learned to view storms as necessary growth tracks to spiritual maturity. I don't want to skip a growth track because I'm scared-- or afraid my wings aren't strong enough to make it. I know God will give me the strength to endure. Endurance is different from flapping aimlessly at the wind. Endurance has a grace to it. With each storm induced wind current, endurance rises to new understanding.
We’re no longer flapping—we’re soaring.
I used to think to be brave I had to fly straight into storms and yell a victory chant while fighting. But I’m learning that even eagles don’t fly straight into storms and gut it out. They watch, they climb, they glide—and when the storm calms down, they land back on safe ground and continue with their lives. One commentary notes that eagles are highlighted in scripture as a symbol of freedom and the courage to look ahead. Perhaps that’s why Isaiah said those that wait on the Lord will rise with wings like eagles.
Strong. Free. Confident. Assured.
I'm still staring at this mug. But instead of putting it back in the cupboard I think I'll let it sit here on my desk for a while. Just looking at it reminds me to rise up and soar.