Have you ever wished that you could fly like the birds of the sky? I know I have. Sitting and watching the birds soar into the sky and some diving with precision, while yet others effortlessly hover looking for prey makes me want to see things from their perspective. They seem so free. The Psalmist said “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would flee far away…” (Psalm 55:8).
It wasn’t until 1903 that the Wright brothers succeeded in flying the first powered plane. No matter how sophisticated and brilliant man thinks that he is modern aircraft pale in comparison to the flight of birds. The birds precision flying is due to their light skeleton of hollow bones, the streamlined body that they possess and their flexible wings whose feathers can work independently. There is nothing man-made that can compare to God’s perfect blueprint.
As we are coming upon Independence Day here in the U.S. I’m thinking of the bald eagle. The bald eagle is what I would call a noble bird. It is America’s national bird. It didn’t become our national bird until 6 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, in 1782. Everyone in Congress didn’t agree. I suppose some things never change. Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird. He said that it was much more respectable than the bald eagle.
I was on my road a few months ago, almost home. I wasn’t going fast but I had failed to see the bald eagle majestically perched on my pasture fence. I slowed my jeep down and slowly backed up to get a picture, but off it flew just as I was able to get my camera out. The bald eagle I would say is a very handsome bird. It really isn’t bald at all but gets its name because the white feathers on its head; its tail is white as well against a dark brown body with yellow eyes. The bald eagle displays pride and independence.
There is a real notion today in the world that human beings are as free as the birds and that we can do or go anywhere we please through self-actualization. This is even taught in many churches. Here is a definition of self-actualization: the achievement of one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. Sound familiar?
The biblical road to freedom though is the complete opposite. True freedom is not freedom from responsibility to God and others in order to live life on our terms; it is the freedom from preoccupation with ourselves, in order to live for God and others. Jesus taught us that the way to self-discovery is self-denial. If we keep insisting on living for ourselves, we will lose ourselves. It is only if we are willing to lose ourselves in loving that we will truly find ourselves. We must die to self-centeredness if we really want to live. This is completely contrary to the philosophy of the world and many self-help religions.
It is interesting to me that the Bible’s symbol of true freedom is the eagle.The false gospel teaches that man can lift himself up to unknown heights, but the true Gospel of Christ tells us that He is the One that lifts us up. In Scripture we don’t learn of self-effort but of salvation. The picture that the eagle shows us is not the constant flapping of its wings, but the spreading of it’s wings to catch the wind and effortlessly soar into the sky.
God asked Job the question “does the eagle soar at your command, and build its nest on high”? (Job 39:27). The answer is no. We don’t command the flight of any birds, let alone the eagle. The flight of the eagle is beyond human understanding and control. In Proverbs 30:18-19 the wise man stated that there were 4 things too amazing for him to understand; one of them was the way of the eagle in the sky.
In spite of the eagle’s flight, it continues to be a symbol of strength. I think it shows us the saving power of God, both as shown with the nation Israel, and individuals as well. God described His rescue of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt; He said He carried them on eagles wings and brought them to Himself (Exodus 19:4). When His own people are conscious of their own weakness, they can have no bigger desire than to “soar on wings like an eagle” (Isaiah 40:31). This isn’t by self-effort, but by waiting patiently on the Lord, and putting their trust in Him.
My favorite preacher of all time, C.H. Spurgeon, stated this so eloquently to a group of his students:
“Brothers, your failure, if you fail, will begin in your faith. The air says to the eagle, “Trust me; spread thy broad wings; I will bear thee up to the sun. Only trust me. Take thy foot from off the rock which thou canst feel beneath thee. Get away from it, and be buoyed up by the unseen element”. My brethren, eagles of heaven, mount aloft, for God invites you. Mount! You have but to trust Him”. ( An All-Round Ministry, pg. 29 )
Until tomorrow, Lord willing,