Things to Keep

I have a file folder titled ‘things to keep’. Pretty general. I was looking in it for an old photo and instead found an old essay (so old it was written on a typewriter!). It is wrinkled and edged with coffee stains. There is no indication of where it came from or who wrote it, but I found it so interesting that I will share some of it with you, edited and condensed.

It is based on one of my favorite Bible passages Isaiah 40.31.

They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

There is a breed of eagles that is programmed by God for a periodic, built-in, instinctive renewal program. In that program every seven years the eagle turns in its old equipment for a brand new set of tools. The eagle flies up to a high, protected place on the side of a mountain. It seems to know it is going to be there for a while. On its secluded perch the eagle opens its bill and tears out all the big, powerful wing feathers that enable it to fly. They are good feathers; they have helped him make a living for years. But he mercilessly rips them out by the roots until the ground is covered with them.

The beautiful eagle begins to look pitiful to the eye, but not nearly as pitiful as it is about to look, because it proceeds to tear off its strong talons, the claws it has been using to grab enough groceries to live.

Stripped of flying feathers and grasping claws, the eagle has only one asset left. But not for long. That asset, a large and powerful beak has got to go, too. The eagle grinds it off on the side of the rock until it is just a nub. Finally there is nothing left of it but a big hole where the beak used to be.

Without the feathers, talons or beak, the mighty eagle is a defenseless, sorry-looking specimen of birdhood. Thus unhandsomely equipped, he sits and waits on the Lord. And waits. And waits. G0d has obviously programmed the eagle to be patient.

After several weeks of faithfulness to its ‘calling’, there is evidence that something is happening. Strong, perfect new feathers are coming through to take the place of the old, frayed and worn ones. New talons, bigger and more powerful than the old ones, not chipped and cracked from hard use, begin to emerge. A shiny new beak starts to sprout, much better than the old one which was nicked in places from its encounters with rocks.

As the eagle waits on the Lord he is utterly renewed. By himself he has created nothing except a willingness and a need to be renewed

When the long wait is over, the eagle flies off, bigger and stronger than ever because it has given up everything on which it had been depending - - everything that it had leaned on for survival - - in favor of what the Lord had for him.”

This is surely an old story. I can’t vouch for its accuracy. Maybe some of you know where it came from. But the lesson is such a good one. If God has programmed the eagle to wait patiently for God to renew it, then surely God has implanted the same kind of characteristic in us, God’s beloved children. In those times when we are down in the doldrums or facing an apparently hopeless challenge, perhaps we can remember the eagle who gives up the things that it has always depended on to wait for God’s timing in order to be renewed and strengthened with new and stronger gifts from God’s loving grace and presence.

In God’s Grace,

Pastor Nancy Becker

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