“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings of eagles.” Isaiah 40:31
For those of you reading this meager column in other parts of the country, the following observations may sound very strange, but I assure you they are true. Sea Gulls love to congregate on parking lots. The parking lots need not be particularly close to the beach. In west Mobile, I regularly saw flocks of dozens of birds in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and we were ten miles from the bay.
I can only guess that these opportunistic feeders found plenty of french fries, Subway bread, and other fast food detritus in the parking lot to be easier pickings than whatever the bay offered. Our litter became their larder.
Most noticeable about these birds, and you’ll find the same thing at the beach, is that as they stand still they all face the same way. Precisely. As if at attention. Beaks parallel, pointing the same direction.
As bright as I am, it only took a few moments of observation to discern they were all facing into the wind. The simple reason, of course, is that in an oncoming wind the bird needs only open its wings for lift. It uses what is coming against it to lift it up.
One of the most beloved verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:31, especially the part about mounting up with wings of eagles. Something I just realized this past week is that is the eagle is mounting up with the wind against it. All birds do that. Actually when airplanes take off they do the same thing. In this lovely verse God used a basic principle of aerodynamics to slip in a vitally important spiritual truth: He will use what is coming against you to raise you up.
How can you cooperate with God in this process? What can you learn and recommit to in order to keep gaining height?
First, try not to over-manage the situation. Many times your efforts to solve your problems become very practical. That sounds appealing until you remember the fundamental foolishness of the gospel. It doesn’t make sense. It is not practical. Your cleverness may be getting in your way. You need faith and trust more than a simple accumulation and analysis of facts. Pride can be a subtle stumbling block to your rising up.
Second, and even more difficult, is to trust that His grace is sufficient. It took Paul three times before the lesson was clear. The thorn remained, but the grace multiplied. In spite of that infernal thorn, God still lifts you up. Will you endure the thorn to gain the rose? God seems to love patient and trusting faith. Keep believing and clinging to what you know is right. God’s grace is sufficient.
I’ve thought about the following statement carefully, and whether my embracing it makes any real difference in what I face, I’m simply not sure. But here is my commitment: I’ll endure anything if I know that in the end I learn more about grace and become more like Christ. That is the basic message of the Bible. I am trying, to the best of my ability to live by that truth.
So let the wind blow. Let it try to do its worst. Your commitment as a Christian is to neither hide nor turn your back. Instead, and quite inexplicably, you turn into the wind. And like an eagle God will lift you up.
Dr. Terry Ellis
June 3, 2012