soaring on wings like eagles

Isaiah 40:21-31
For Sunday, February 8, 2009
Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

How often do we get so caught up in our own circumstances that we forget that the presence and power of God changes everything? This is the question raised by Isaiah 40:21-31.

Verse 21 asks, “Do you not know who God is?” He is the one sitting enthroned above the circle of the earth (v. 22). He is the one who reduces the rulers of the world to nothing (v. 23). He is the one who has no equal, who created every star in the heaven, who has a name for each of them, and holds them all in place (v. 26).

A skeptic might respond, “Well.. that’s a pre-scientific understanding. What holds the stars in place is gravity.” Granted, but where does gravity come from? And how is it that given the force of gravity stars aren’t constantly getting sucked into one another?

This God, continues Isaiah the prophet, is the one who is our source of strength when our own strength fails. Isaiah closes with the beautiful simile of believers soaring on wings like eagles (v. 31). One of the remarkable capabilities of eagles is the ability to soar over a roiling storm. Eagles sense when a storm is coming, they soar to a high point in the sky, and then when the storm winds come, they use the storm’s wind to soar even higher, over the top of the storm itself. What a powerful metaphor for coping with loss, distress, and conflict in our lives. Don’t get caught up in the storms of life. Set your wings and let the winds of turmoil cause your soul to soar.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31

I find this to be of tremendous personal encouragement. A few years ago I suffered a devastating loss that was at once personal, professional, and vocational. I felt like someone had held a shotgun up to my gut and pulled the trigger, leaving me with a hole in my gut covered only by a piece of skin flapping in the wind. Shortly thereafter, a dear friend shared this passage with me, and shared the insight about eagles soaring over the storm. I’ve done my share of trying to fly around, under and through the storm. It just doesn’t work. Yet I am learning that all I need do is spread my wings and let the wind of the Spirit propel me forward and upward. This is a lesson for which I am eternally grateful.

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