Flying as Eagles Fly
Eagle, flying along the Taunton River, Sullivan, Maine
Bald eagles are definitely forces “to be reckoned with”. They have powerful talons which can exert ten times the pressure of an adult male human hand and can have up to seven foot wingspans enabling them to catch updrafts and soar thousands of feet in the air where their amazing visual and color acuities allow them to spot signs of small prey and fish. Their attacks may be unsuspected and swift, but their presence is formidable and commands tremendous respect.
One might expect them to have a pleasant, satisfied demeanor. Yet, even though they control the skies and hold powerful predator status among the animal kingdom, their countenance seems very intent, maybe even angry, or somewhat scary! But they must be content because they are long-lived, mate for life, and build mega-mansion nests where they patiently but clumsily protect their eggs, feed their young until they fledge, and parent them for a few months after fledging.
They are majestic, even regal, symbols of the beauty and independence of American democracy. Furthermore, they have a spiritual allure about them. Their feathers are honored as messengers of spirits by some Native American cultures. Ancient biblical authors used the eagle’s nature as expressive metaphors for God’s powerful presence and nurturing care for His people. He destroyed the evil intent of those who pursued Israel in the Exodus and later reminded them : “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4).
Moses used eagle imagery to express God’s love for Israel: “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the LORD alone guided (them)…” (Deuteronomy 32:11-12) Such figurative language bespeaks the encouragement, support, provision, and patience God gave that nation. Similarly, His gracious attitude toward all humanity is dramatically evident in both His gift of those all-encompassing, guiding, moral principles of the Law which clarify the importance of loving God and others and in His amazing, mercy filled, love gift—Jesus. Like the protective wings of an eagle, Jesus’ cross embraces the world for whom he died so that whosoever choses may know the peace and joy of God as He brings them to Himself.
My childish night dreams of flying, of soaring high, disappeared as life grew longer and a bit more serious and limiting! But strengthened by God’s presence, nourished and satisfied by His Word, and eternally protected by His grace, we can all fly like Eagles. Isaiah spoke of this spiritual strength, of the courage and enduring power found in a trusting faith which waits on God’s purposes. “Those that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).