Apparently the wingspan of a wedge-tailed eagle is 2.3metres. I was a little humbled by that recently when I bought 2 metres of fabric and realised how long that wingspan is. It is one of Australia’s largest birds of prey and I have always loved these birds, along with the American bald eagle. Initially I think it was because of my fascination with American and native American history (we actually studied American history, here in Australia, when I was a kid). I came to the conclusion, when I was 15, that wingspan on the eagle wasn’t enough.
In order to fly, it needed air currents and thermal updrafts to help it stay in the air. In fact, the air was critical to the movement of the bird. I was thinking about it the other day when I read Isaiah 40:30-31.
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
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.”
It’s fascinating when you read about what is actually happening when an eagle is in flight. But i won’t go into too many details except to say that I used to sit and watch it soar. I remember one of my first visits to the USA, I was feeling homesick and slightly overwhelmed. The knowledge I wouldn’t see my family for over a year was almost too much. I saw an eagle fly into the blue, Colorado sky. It looked effortless, peaceful. But when I read about what happens to the eagle physiologically to help it fly, when I read about currents and wind and air, I was humbled. It was powerful. And it displays God’s power. The bird worked hard to fly, But the World God created for him to fly in, works just as hard to keep it there in the sky.
When I realised this the Isaiah scripture effected me more than ever.
I try to do everything myself. I think of my own abilities and put trust in them that I can do it alone. If the bird tried to fly without air, he’d fall out of the sky, without it there to hold him up. His Wingspan is not enough to keep him there. He needs air. Just as we need God.
The other morning I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt like I didn’t have the energy to go on. It was all getting too much. Sometimes I feel like my energy is spent and I simply cannot go on anymore, there are so many pressures mounting up, so many things demanding my time. Then I think of the eagle. He doesn’t sit around wondering if he can go on. He doesn’t have a choice. He’s not wondering if the air is going to hold him up. It just does. Bird and air are synchronous.
But we have choices, unlike the bird.
We can choose to stay in bed and pull the covers back up over our heads. Or we can choose to keep going, trusting that God will be there, so matter how much we feel like we are failing, or falling.
I think that’s partly what Isaiah means. In our weakness, when we are too scared or tired or anxious to fly, he lifts us up, we don’t have to wonder if he will. He does. Always. Like the air holds up the eagle. The God who invented the air is also a God who holds up his people. It’s a powerful picture. God holding up a weak, fallible, fainting people.
Next time you see an eagle, remember that’s God holding him up. And when you are weak, tired, emotional, you will rise up like the eagle.