14/08/17Eagles are unique birds with several interesting characteristics. The Bible mentions the eagle several times, pointing out its characteristics that carry lessons for us in our relationship with God. Isaiah 40:31 mentions one of those characteristics as ‘mounting up with wings’:
‘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’.
This particular characteristic of the eagle refers to how the eagle behaves when faced with a storm. God created the eagle with a mechanism within its system that enables it to sense a coming storm long before it actually arrives. While all the other birds may be flying around carelessly in a clear sky or running around on the ground, the eagle is able to tell that in a short while, there will be a huge storm. What the eagle then does is that it begins to soar in circles, its large wings carried by the wind. The bird soars so high into the skies that by the time the storm arrives, it is way above it. In that way, the eagle is never trapped in a storm. While other birds are beaten thoroughly in storms and a few may even get killed, the eagle soars way up above the clouds, enjoying the sunshine. The eagle knows how to ride out storms, living above them.
Living like the eagle
Christians who know how to wait on the Lord live like the eagle: they ride out and above the storms of life. When faced with temptations, trials and tests, they come out alive and well. They are eagle Christians.
Being believers in Christ doesn’t exempt us from being hit by tough situations like everyone else. In fact, believing in Jesus can often result in having to contend with even more troubles than the non-believing person: ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous …’ Psalm 34:19. But thank God for the second part of that verse: ‘… but the Lord delivereth him out of them all’. The deliverance comes because the righteous know how to wait on the Lord.
Meeting with God
To wait on God means looking to God in faith, confidently trusting His promises will become manifest in our lives despite the current negative circumstances. To wait on God also means ‘to meet with God, to be joined to God, to gather together with God’. This second definition really just refers to spending time alone with God on a regular basis.
What Isaiah 40:31 teaches is that those who spend time with God regularly have their strength replenished so that they are constantly strong and thus able to ride out the storms of life like the eagle rides out rain storms. They never lose their zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God.
Human wisdom is limited
Proverbs 20:29 says that the glory of young men is their physical strength. But in Isaiah 40:30, God says that even young men with all their great strength soon get tired and even collapse when subjected to continuous strain. ‘Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall’.
The strength of young men symbolizes human wisdom, ability and efforts. The greatest human wisdom and abilities are all limited and will not bring the results that people long for in their deepest selves. Human abilities are especially frail when it comes to bringing perpetual peace, joy and inner harmony. However, the good news is that while human abilities are limited, those who wait on the Lord have the opportunity to keep renewing their strength, so that they are always winning. Their victory is not sourced in themselves but in God. Every time the strength they have gets used up, God gives them some more in the secret place of personal fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Stirring up the power of God within us
God’s strength that He shares with people is also referred to as His power or anointing. Acts 1:8 says that when a believer is baptized with the Holy Spirit, they receive God’s power or strength or anointing to enable them operate as God’s witnesses: ‘But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth’. This implies that anyone who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit should be walking in the power of God since they already received it. But I have noticed that many Christians who speak in tongues (evidence that they have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit) are so spiritually weak. I used to wonder why until God opened my eyes to understand 2 Timothy 1:6-8:
‘For which cause I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you through the putting on of my hands, for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind; therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but do suffer evil along with me according to the power of God’.
Paul had laid hands on Timothy and the latter had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of power), but then Timothy had become weak and was succumbing to fear and confusion. To regain His strength and boldness, Paul didn’t instruct Timothy to begin crying out for another or more power but rather to stir up the gift (power) of God that was already in Him.
If you have been baptized with the Holy Spirit, you already have the power of God in you by the grace of God. But for that power to keep functioning in full strength in your life, you have to keep it stirred up. You do that by waiting on the Lord, which is spending quality and quantity time alone with God: meditating deeply in the Word, worshipping, praying in tongues, etc. As you stir up that power within you, you soon sense a new strength rising within you and that is what some people call a fresh anointing or touch from the Lord, but it is just the same Holy Spirit you received being given room to function.
The word ‘stir’ as used here carries the thought of re-charging a weakened car battery so that it regains its power. You don’t get a new battery; you just re-charge the one you already had and it regains its strength. To keep the power of God functional in our life, we have to keep re-charging our spiritual battery. That is how we renew our strength in God, so that we are ever strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). That is how to stay strong in the grace of God (2 Timothy 2:1). Living by and in grace doesn’t mean being prayer-less or careless.
The reason so many Spirit-baptized believers are weak is because they do not have time alone with God. Many are Sunday church-goers who read the Bible and pray only when they attend church once a week for one or two hours. You may make heaven doing that but you will not live in victory in this life.
Grow new ‘feathers’
When the feathers of an eagle grow old, so that it cannot soar gracefully with the wind, the eagle goes through a ‘stirring up’ experience. It finds a sheltered place high on a mountain, settles down and vigorously knocks its wings, talons and beak against the rocks until they all come off. Then the eagle waits up there, spread out in the sun, until it grows new feathers, talons and beak. With its body rejuvenated, the eagle is again able to climb to whatever height is necessary for it to enjoy the sunshine while earth-bound birds suffer with storms; and it can see, catch and tear prey easily.
You see, the power of God in us too has a way it ‘grows old’ in its function and then we need to stir it up for it to come on strong again. Therefore, we must discipline ourselves like the eagle to find a sheltered place – the secret place of personal fellowship with God – and stir up the power in us until we are able to stand strong again.
To survive in this journey of faith, we must make spending time alone with God in His Word a daily habit. As one man of God wrote, ‘Fellowship is the mother of faith’.
Another interesting eagle characteristic is that eagles never fly in flocks. They are solitary birds. They are not crowd followers.
Now, in this Christian journey, we need the input of other people. We need to fellowship with other believers. It is vital to be a part of a local body of believers where we can receive ministry and minister to others too. However, to live in real victory, we need to know how to pursue God for ourselves, even when no one else understands, supports or encourages us.
All of us face times when we have to decide whether we will go on with God even if we are alone or compromise and try to live and believe like everyone else. Eagle Christians know that the number one Person they need and seek to please is God. Eagle Christians live before God, not man; they do right because it is right, not because it is what everybody does. Spending much time alone with God builds in us security and confidence so that we know we can make it even if it is only God who understands us.
Never in despair
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, Scripture teaches that we are earthen (imperfect) vessels and that the power that operates in us is of God. When that power is functioning strongly in us, we may be troubled on every side, but are never distressed; we may be persecuted but never destroyed; we may be perplexed, but never in despair.
Eagle Christians face temptations, trials and tests like everyone else but because the power of God is always stirred up in them, they never lose their joy or peace. When they are disappointed, they do not lie down crying over their ‘misfortune’; rather they get up and ‘re-appoint’ themselves. The manifest presence of God that they carry with them from the secret place of fellowship energizes them to keep moving when others give up.
Because Eagle Christians spend time developing their spiritual sensitivity, they often pick up the Holy Spirit’s warnings of impending attacks from the enemy long before they strike. But even if they do not pick up such warnings, because their strength is continually renewed, when the evil day comes, they are found standing, and after the devil has unleashed his attacks and done everything, eagle Christians remain standing (Ephesians 6:13).
Isaiah 40:31 tells us that eagle Christians – those who wait on the Lord - run but do not grow weary. They never stop; they never become cold or lukewarm; they never retire from life or ministry. They are zealous; always motivated; always excited. They may grow older in age but in their hearts they retain the ideas and energy of youth. ‘Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall also bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing’ - Psalm 92:14
Why is it that some Christians are always excited about Jesus and the things of God, while others find spiritual things so boring? Why is it that some believers merely ‘endure’ salvation because they fear going to hell instead of really being in love with Jesus? There may be other reasons, but one which almost always applies is that they do not have personal time alone with God.
I know from personal experience that the best answer to discouragement, anxiety, depression, lack of purpose and vision, confusion, and even physical fatigue sometimes, is SPENDING TIME IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD DAILY in prayer and meditation in the Word. That is why I say with the Psalmist, ‘Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. And again I say, wait on the Lord’ - Psalm 27:14.
Do whatever you need to do to ensure you have time alone with God. Find a good place and time that suits you best. It might be first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Put off the phone. This thing requires real effort and determination. There is probably nothing the devil is going to fight harder in your life than having time alone with God, but again, if at all you are serious about going anywhere with Jesus of Nazareth, you must make spending time alone with Him a priority.
Oh, the peace and sheer pleasure of hearing God speak through His Word or by His spirit in the stillness of the night!