Pastor’s Corner: “Flapping or Soaring?”

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) – 31 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. 

Have you ever observed birds and how they fly? Some can only fly at a certain height. A duck, for instance, may fly higher and longer than a chicken, but it can’t sustain itself like a sparrow. And as fast and as wonderfully a sparrow may fly, it can never fly as high as an eagle and sustain itself in the air.  

Why does Isaiah use the Imagery of an Eagle over any other bird to strengthen Israel’s faith? Because Eagles just don’t fly, they soar. The first 39 chapters of Isaiah is a dedicated prophecy accounting of the apostasy of the Israelites, judgment,  their impending defeat by the Babylonians, as well as their consequential 70-year exile as a punishment for their idolatry and disobedience towards the Lord.  

But, in Isaiah 40-66, the tone of the prophet changes. The harsh truths of the earlier chapters are now replaced by words of comfort and encouragement. Isaiah is encouraging the exiled Jewish community to believe God’s promises of freedom, and in the meantime, wait until He releases them from their sentence (Jeremiah 25:12).However, this form of waiting is not passive — it is active. Isaiah urges the Israelites to wait with hope and confident anticipation in spite of their current oppression. In doing so, they will be filled with such strength and faith, that when God releases them, rather than dragging their feet in despondent shame, they will instead soar out of their prison, equipped with faith and confident assurance in God’s goodness to make the long journey back to the Promised Land! 

In order to understand God’s comparison of our faith walk to the flight of an eagle, we need to first understand some underlying characteristics of the eagle. 

  • Eagles are born with large, heavy wings. However, unlike other birds, who flap their wings in order to stay in the air, eagles stretch out their wings and hold them still for the purpose of soaring. 
  • In order to become airborne, an eagle waits for large atmospheric gusts of winds called wind thermals. Sometimes, an eagle will perch and wait for days to catch a wind thermal that can carry it. 
  • Storms provide excellent wind thermals; consequently an eagle will deliberately seek out a storm, rather than avoid it. It knows that by enduring the temporary atmospheric adversity, it will be projected to clear, peaceful skies above. 
  • If an eagle flaps its wings unnecessarily during flight, the excessive use of energy can cause them to die. 

How Does Our Faith Compare to Soaring Eagles? The Bible teaches us that we, as believers, can possess the characteristics of an eagle. If we choose to wait on God and rely on Him as our source of strength as the eagle relies on a wind current, we can conserve our energy by allowing Him to direct our paths, just like the eagle uses wind currents to determine his flight path. Additionally, instead of flapping our wings in an attempt to move in our own strength, we can instead stretch out our wings and soar with minimum effort, while allowing the Lord to take us to heights greater than we could ever achieve on our own. 

God keeps all of the promises He makes to His children, however, He also gives us free will to choose our own paths — at our own cost. This is evident in the first part of Isaiah 40:31,“But those who hope in the Lord.” SOARING (A faith-confident life) will only be experienced by those who choose to place their trust in God and wait with hope and assured expectation of the fulfillment of His promises. Otherwise we are just flapping our wings.  

How We Can ‘Soar on Wings Like Eagles’ today? Instead of shouldering your own burdens, hand them over to God (1 Peter 5:7). Instead of trying to work out your problems with your own strength, let God fight your battles for you (Exodus 14:14). Instead of trying to force events according to your timing, wait on God and trust in His perfect timing (2 Peter 3:8-9). Let go and let God be God — and in doing so, He will infuse you with such energy and faith-filled confidence that will allow you to soar to greater heights of understanding, peace, and joy. 

In His Grace, 

Pastor Hamilton