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On Eagle’s Wings

I can still see him clearly in my mind’s eye. A sudden flash of brilliant white from tail and head as the bald eagle changed from a black silhouette far off in the sky to when it flared to perch on the top of a dead and broken cedar. We were in a rowboat about fifty yards away. As we quietly worked our way closer, it reacted by flying right over our heads. Its great wings carried it across the small lake. Its head and tail were in bright contrast to its black body. It flared, talons extended, as if to grab prey. Instead, it swept upward to land in another dead tree with a proper vantage point. Later, at a different location, we watched a youngster fly over our heads and land out of sight. For several minutes we could hear it’s angry shrieks telling us we were too close.

The eagle is back in Michigan. Nearly every year we have reports of eagle sightings along the shore of Lake Michigan. In the past, the population was decimated by pollution from industry and farming. Now its numbers are on the rise. In fact, this past winter, there were over forty eagles flying around the harbor in Grand Haven. They were drawn there because the open water enabled them to fish.

The eagles are one of the largest birds of prey in the United States. They weigh from eight to thirteen pounds as adults with a wingspan of seven feet. They have extremely keen vision. Their beaks are over two inches long and an inch deep. The bald eagle is primarily a fish and carrion eater. The golden eagle, on the other hand feeds on small mammals. They have incredible power in their flight. In fact, with the right wind, they can lift prey of their own weight and fly off with it. You know how hard it is to lift someone off the ground that is your same weight. Now imagine flying off with it. What an incredible feat! It is their tremendous untamed power and fierceness that have captured man’s imagination.

I actually had the opportunity to hold an eagle on my leather-gloved arm at a friend’s house in Northern Ireland. He raises and trains over thirty raptors of many different kinds, including hawks, falcons, owls and a vulture. He hunts with them and teaches children about their amazing characteristics. After flying and training one of his hawks with me, he allowed me to hold a small eagle he was working with. This one had a wingspan of about six feet. When it beat its wings, it pulled up my arm with its power. What a tremendous thrill to feel those huge razor sharp talons grip my arm and stare into those fierce wild eyes. I’ll never forget the amazing experience.

It is the power of this beautiful bird of prey that makes it such a fitting example in the Bible both of God’s power and fierce anger against sin, but also of the Christian’s spiritual power in the midst of sin and trial. Agur, in Proverbs 30:19 declares the flight of the eagle to be one of the four most wonderful things he has observed. The image of the eagles powerful flight is emphasized by Isaiah in chapter 40, verse 31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles….” When we feel faint and weary, burdened by the weight of sin and trials that we are dealing with, we must look to the eagle and soar like him with our burdens into the heavens. There, God will give us strength to trust in Him and walk in His power. Don’t be grounded and miserable in unbelief. By faith, we have the spiritual power to soar above all our earthly weaknesses. May God give us that faith.

On Eagles Wings

On eagles wings,
Will I mount up.
Salvation He brings.
He will fill my cup.

 Apart from Him,
I cannot fly.
Burdened by sin,
To Him I cry.

 My heart filled with pain.
Headed for destruction,
Others help I disdain.
My pain is my instruction.

 From the depths of despair,
On wings I’m raised.
I know His care.
With power I’m saved.

 On eagles wings,
Will I mount up.
Before Him I stand,
Upheld by His hand.