Isaiah 40:31 is a beloved Scripture of many. As Christians, we understand that God loves to use symbolism. One of the beautiful pictures He has drawn for us is that living a Christian life is like an eagle in flight.
The original Hebrew words translated "mount up" can also be translated "to soar." Eagles soar by riding thermal air currents as they rise from the earth. Soaring does not require any energy as their open wings catch the rising air. They are actually resting as they soar!
Eagles migrate by rising to high altitudes using thermals and then soaring long distances. This process is repeated until they reach their destination.
The Story of a Young Eagle
A young eagle was attempting to fly for the first time. He was strong enough and had enough feathers. Yet, he hesitated, lacking one thing, confidence!
Standing safely in the middle of the nest he jumped up hesitatingly with wings wide open, just a few inches, . The next day he jumped a bit higher. The wind caught his wings and he rose a few feet, landing safely in the nest again! Eventually, he gained enough confidence to jump off the edge of the nest and glided to a lower ledge with a bit of a rough landing. He hadn't gone far, but now he knew he could do it! He could do what he was designed to do!
How typical of our early Christian lives. Fear often prevents us from doing what we are designed to do. We are designed to rise above the constraints of this earthly life and ascend to new spiritual heights of character development. We are designed to live by faith, trusting God when things seem bleak or unclear. Just like that young eagle, God has given us what we need to fly, but we have to muster the courage to leave the security of our "earthly nest."
How do we even begin?
The source of Christian strength is described in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me."
The Lord will give us the strength we need to overcome any obstacle we may face. But even though the young eagle had the strength to fly he was, at first, afraid to put it to the test! Our human minds often magnify the things that make us fearful, and this can paralyze us. Resting in God starts with contentment.
In Philippians 4:11-12, the Apostle Paul admits he had to learn to be content in all things.
Philippians 4:11-12, "…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." (NAS)
As we travel through life, we find our circumstances constantly changing. For example, young parents may have many concerns and responsibilities that others do not. Young people may have very troubling social and scholastic demands that wreak havoc with their spiritual goals. The elderly may find themselves unable to get to church functions and miss the fellowship that a Christian needs. It is abundantly clear that in every walk of life there will be obstacles we have to face.
We may wonder why the Lord permits so many obstacles. In His wisdom He knows that only through trials can we learn to trust in Him. When we understand that trials and adversity can result in deep spiritual development, we begin to see purpose in them and they can then be easier to bare. Also, in times of need we are more inclined to go to God seeking strength and understanding. We will learn through experiences, each time we flutter our wings, that His will is always the best and wisest course in life. We learn God is on our side and controls our experiences so that we can become better people who can sympathize with others. These are God-like qualities that can only be attained through the experiences of life. It is up to us to take Him at His word and use each experience to spread our wings, so to speak; and wait for the Lord to lift us up through His Holy Spirit.
Seeking God's guidance should be our greatest goal. He will strengthen us through prayer, study of the Scriptures and advice from other faithful Christians. His providence will teach us great lessons as we study our lives and compare them to the principles taught in His word. As we learn to rest in faith God will lift us up to see life from a "higher perspective!"
God is not vengeful or one to be feared, but He is a loving Father who wants to bless His children. He is training us for an eternity of peace. We will someday see the universal benefits of this brief experience with sin and death. But what we already know teaches us to trust His wisdom in permitting difficulties and even tragedies in this life.
The Story of the Pearl Necklace
Little Molly, a bright-eyed five-year old spied a pretty plastic pearl necklace at the market. She wanted that necklace! Her mother said she would purchase it for her, but Molly had to do a list of chores to make up for the cost. Molly agreed and soon paid off her necklace. She wore those pearls everywhere!! Now Molly had a very loving father. One night he asked Molly to give him her pearls.
"Oh, Daddy! Not my pearls! I will give you my favorite dolly!"
"No, Molly, that's okay. Go to bed now." He kissed her goodnight.
A week later, he made the same request. "Do you love me, Molly?"
"Oh yes, Daddy, you know I do!"
"Well, then, give me your pearls."
"Oh, no Daddy! Not my pearls! You can have my toy horse, Ribbons! Her hair is so soft and you can braid it and everything! You can have Ribbons if you want her, Daddy!"
"No, that's alright. God bless you. Sweet dreams." Her father brushed her cheek again with a kiss and left the room.
Several days later, when Molly's father came as usual to read her a story, the little girl was sitting on her bed, her lip trembling.
"Daddy, I do love you. Here." Molly held out her small hand. In it was her beloved necklace. She let it slip into her father's outstretched fingers.
With one hand he held the plastic pearls and with the other he pulled out of his pocket a blue velvet box. Inside the box was a string of beautiful pearls. Real pearls! He had had them all along: He was waiting for Molly to give up the man-made plastic imitation so he could give her the real thing.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the earthly things in our lives so He may give us a beautiful treasure in heaven.
And so, fellow Christians, God has given us precious gifts. He has given us not only amazing promises of the future, but He has given us everything we need to soar in this life. But we have to trust Him and rest in faith. Seek His will and try to understand His mind as best as we can.
A Closing Story: Fly Like the Eagle
Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, the eagle sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
When the storms of life come upon us, and all of us will experience them, we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storms that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment into our lives. We can soar above the storm.
The burdens of life will not weigh us down if our strength comes from the Lord. "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles." (NIV) Isaiah 40:31