Yesterday afternoon, Janet and I were sitting out in the yard having a conversation with family members who came in from the Chicago area to spend the Labor Day weekend with us. With all the concern over COVID-19, we have been quite careful to take safety precautions for months now and to make sure that we are not taking unnecessary risks. Nonetheless, it was nice, after all this isolation, to actually spend time with people and have a personal conversation rather than something on Zoom or another virtual platform.
As we were sitting there in the middle of our discussion, I looked up into the sky and saw what I thought, at first, was a hawk. However, it turned out to be a beautiful bald eagle – the first one we have seen at our home in the almost seven years that we have lived here. It was spectacular – and, clearly, the eagle was circling the lake looking for fish to capture. There is something mesmerizing about watching such a magnificent creature seeming to fly effortlessly with such determination and dignity.
Several weeks ago, we saw a turkey vulture catch a large bass and take it to the shore for a meal. Unlike the eagle, the turkey vulture was grotesque, brazen and much larger than I had expected it to be. It was also the first bird of its kind that we have seen from our kitchen window.
But I am sure that the eagle holds special regard for me as I have been taught from my earliest years that the eagle is a symbol of our country and something to be protected. We have seen eagles at Dollywood in Tennessee and several other places around the country; and we have even followed several of them on ledge cams affixed to the sides of buildings where the eagles build nests to raise their young.
But the one story that has stuck in my mind is one I learned a while ago about the habits of eagles. It seems that smaller birds, especially crows, try and peck eagles on their necks during flight. Biologists believe that this is response to some territorial intrusion on the part of the eagle and the smaller birds get agitated and try to defend their airspace. In fact, on occasion, the crows will actually hitch a ride on the back of the eagle as they continue their attack on the eagle’s neck.
The bald eagle is the largest bird of prey and it’s difficult to imagine another bird brazen enough to try and actually land on the eagle’s back during flight. But the eagle responds in an unexpected way. Rather than waste energy fighting the small adversary, the eagle adjusts its flight trajectory and flies up toward the sun – way up. In fact, the eagle will continue to climb until the air gets too thin for the crow to continue. Then, the crow disengages to return to earth and the eagle continues on its way.
So the eagle doesn’t let itself be troubled by the momentary distraction. Nor does it waste energy on a fight or try to disengage from the crow. No – it just continues to fly – the crow isn’t worth the effort to fight. But the eagle will prevail… I love this story about the eagles – and we can learn a lesson from them.
We should all save our energy and focus on the things that are really important and not waste time or effort on things of little or no consequence. After all, we are made in the image of God Himself and no other animal can claim that status. We have a special place in God’s kingdom.
Our verse for tonight comes from the prophet Isaiah. He tells us, in Isaiah 40:31, “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.” What great advice for all of us. My encouragement this evening is that God loves it when we wait for Him to renew our strength. My prayer is that we will recognize that God will strengthen us, give us hope and a future; and that our capacity to deal with the issues of world will increase exponentially when we are in alignment with God. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…