Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seeing Jesus in Eagles

KIM UPDATE: This is it. Today we check-in for the last and final round - Round 6! It's hard to believe it's almost over. The side effects are accumulating as the toxins from the chemo build up in her body but overall she's doing great. Thanks for your prayers. 

Below is a video and some excerpts from a paper I did a few years ago at Moody called "Biblical Eagleology". It was inspired by some things my good pastor friend (Sung) shared with me many years ago which led to more study and has served as a faithful reminder of how God uses trials and tribulations so that we might live up to our God-given DNA and "soar on wings like eagles".

Have you ever noticed that there are few animals that are mentioned more in the Bible than eagles? Besides being our national symbol, there is something different about this unique creature and I believe God had something special in mind when He created them in that eagles were specifically designed to teach us something about God and ourselves. During a time of personal trial a few years ago, studying eagles in the Bible really blessed me because I realized so much of how God loves us and grows us is found in how He transforms helpless eaglets to soaring eagles. God often describes himself as an eagle. In reminding His people of how he redeemed them from their bondage and oppression in years past He said:  
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.” (Exodus 19:4)
Despite the adult eagles’ noble features and majestic qualities – the baby eagle (or eaglet) appears fairly non-descript and undistinguished. Born in appearance much like many other birds - frail and often grayish in color - the eaglet can be easily confused for many other average birds such as ducks, geese or even chicken. However, this does not change the fact that although the bird may look like other non-descript birds, she still carries the DNA of an eagle, regardless of her outward appearance or what she or others may actually think.

We as Christians are often like these eaglets; born frail, helpless and non-descript. Others may not immediately recognize us as being any different from any other “bird”. However, in an outward sense even Jesus seemed fairly ordinary on the surface (For he had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. –Isaiah 53:2). Perhaps, in our immaturity, we are very similar to other baby birds. Totally helpless and completely dependent on our mother to feed and protect us and completely unable to fly. In some sense, many of us don’t even realize we were created to fly until we grow in maturity and strength and wisdom. But it is not the Lord’s desire or intention for us to remain in this condition forever. He calls us to be different from all other birds.

Most eaglets are not born with an innate desire to fly and it’s hard to blame them. Things are quite comfortable in their large nest (i.e. aeries) which is often built hundreds of feet high in a tree or even thousands of feet high off a cliff. These nests can be as large as 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep and can weigh as much as one ton.  They are described in the book of Job when the Lord (in response to Job’s anger) asks him where he was while He created the myriad wonders of the world.
 “Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high? On the cliff he dwells and lodges, Upon the rocky crag, an inaccessible place. From there he spies out food; His eyes see it from afar.” - Job 39:27-29
It is from these high nests that these eaglets are virtually free from any danger, all while getting beak-fed “room service” by their parents without so much as straining their necks.  It gives new meaning to the phrase ”living the high life”. Ironically, one of the few dangers for eaglets or eaglet eggs is when an occasional snake slithers into the nest in search of devouring a meal. Adult eagles have been witnessed carrying these offending snakes on their talons who are then dropped on rocks far below – killing the snake immediately. 

Despite every eaglets desire to  spend their whole lives “living the high life”, the parents know better. Adult eagles will often allow their eaglets to suffer a bit by denying them food. Although it may seem evil at first this intentional starvation serves two purposes:  first, it lightens their weight preparing them for their first flight and second, the hunger makes them uncomfortable and restless - enough to even get them up and onto the nest’s edge. The parents often expedite this process by making things even more uncomfortable by stirring (or tearing up) parts of the nest. This practice serves as a stark physical reminder that they weren’t created to rest comfortably in that nest forever. They were made to leave. They were made to fly. 

What happens next is nothing short of remarkable. The eagle will come by and hover over the nest which accomplishes two things: first, it demonstrates to the eaglets what their wings are to be used for (“Look here child! This is how you fly!”) and second, it creates an updraft so strong that it momentarily lifts the eaglets above the nest. After a few practice runs the eaglets are in the air flapping furiously. This is not without fear or danger however – as some eaglets are blown up and out and can fall to their death.

In the book of Deuteronomy we find Moses’ final sermon to the Israelites, at the cusp of entering the Promised Land, a land he could not enter. This is the new generation of God’s people that had not lived in Egypt, nor crossed the Red Sea (save Joshua and Caleb) and this sermon is a solemn reminder of the covenant God has made with their forefathers, which He is now reaffirming with them. This solemn covenant reminder climaxes with a magnificent song called “The Song of Moses” which was given to the people for the covenant-renewal ceremony. In this song we see a beautiful testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness to Israel as He guided them out of Egypt and through the wilderness wanderings as well as a somber warning of judgment if they were to violate the covenant as their ancestors did. It is within this song that we see again, in biblical terms, the profound imagery of the LORD as an eagle and His children as eaglets learning to fly.  
“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with Him.” -Deuteronomy 32:11-12
However, we would do well to remember, the LORD was not just teaching them to fly. He was calling them out of the only world they had known up to that point, one of comfort, safety and security. He was helping them discover what they were created to be. He was making them just like Himself.

What becomes immediately apparent when observing an eagle’s flight is not just the amazing heights they reach, but the effortlessness with which they rise. With hardly a flap of their wings they seemingly defy all laws of gravity. How are they able to do this? Wind thermals. These are invisible currents of air that rise due to their warm temperature and eagles learn how to seek out these currents and over time gain an intimate knowledge of them.  This is what allows them to climb effortlessly into the sky nearly 1,000 feet with nothing but wings "spread eagle". In Proverbs, even the wise man Agur observed this great mystery as one of four things that was beyond understanding:
There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid. -Proverbs 30:18-19
Jewish authors would have been great eagle experts, as nearly 28 species totaling 1.2 million were once recorded in Elat, Israel (near Gulf of Aquaba in the spring of 1985) and yet their beauty in flight still never ceases to amaze.

Although these wind currents are invisible, this special understanding allows the eagle to fly far higher than any other bird and with far less physical effort.  It should also be noted that the landscape which generates the best updraft and most effortless flights are not flat grassy areas or open waters but “rough terrain, such as valley edges or mountain slopes”. It seems to me that our natural instinct is to avoid at all costs these “rough terrain, valley edges and mountain slopes”. However it is in these very places that the thermal wind currents are greatest and where, if we understand, wait for and trust the winds, we rise the highest. 

It’s humbling to see how God can teach us about life, suffering and growth through something as simple as an eagle. So many of us would rather ignore our identity in Christ and although we possess the DNA to soar high into the sky, we’d rather remain in our comfortable nests and be hand fed our entire lives – but God often has different plans. He loves us too much to let us be what we were never created to be. Sometime he "stirs our nest" and forces us out because He wants us to mount on wings like eagles. He wants us to fly to great heights without effort relying only upon the wind He gives. He wants us to put our hope in Him and Him alone. He wants us to be what He created us to be.
“Yet those who hope in the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” -Isaiah 40:31
In His Grace,

Peter & Kim


  1. Praying all goes smoothly today and celebrating this chapter coming to an end. You guys have been such a testimony of hope in our God.

  2. '...with the similarity in some respects of my own situation to that of [Lizzie's] dear little innocent, who was undergoing the operation of vaccination. The infant gave up its arm to the operator without suspicion or fear. But when it felt the puncture, which must have been sharp, no words can express the astonishment and grief that followed. I could not have thought the mouth could have been distended so widely as it continued, till the nurse's soothing restored her usual calmness. What an illustration is this of the impatient feelings we are often apt to experience, and sometimes even to express, when suffering from the dispensations of a Being, whose wisdom we profess to believe to be unerring, whose kindness we know to be unfailing, whose truth also is sure, and who has declared to us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love Him, and that the object of His inflictions is to make us partakers of His holiness.'" Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxes, pp. 270-271

    Read this today and thought of your family. We are so thankful you have arrived at your final check in. We will continue praying for you all. We have been seeing time and time again that our Lord uses these experiences to shape us for a lifetime.

    To God Be The Glory.

    Jacob and Lindsey Skogen