“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.” (NIV)
Yesterday I went on an unexpected detour. I do that sometimes. I get lost or make a wrong turn and end up taking the scenic route. Generally I think nothing of it and spend more time getting back to my original destination than paying attention to anything along the new path.
This was different. Somehow I knew there was an unrevealed purpose in the mix0up. This time I paid close attention.
It all began as I left the downtown Titusville area where I’ve been volunteering at a week-long art show. I deliberately headed north to try and make my way to the next town where I had heard a new golf club is hiring an events coordinator. I had been calling that venue daily because I’m really needing to find a job.
At the same time I was considering an appearance at the golf club I was also thinking a quick drive around Black Hawk Drive at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge might also do me some good. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately and the best way I know of to fight off the blues is to get back to nature–just grab my camera and chase some birds or butterflied.
With conflicting thoughts in my head I made a sharp turn and decided to follow the river road, I had also read somewhere that there might be a small cottage for rent. So I spun of on my little detour . . .
Driving slowly along the river was soothing to my soul. Windows rolled down, I could feel the slight wisp of an autumn breeze. The sunlight streaked through fluffy white clouds and sparkled when it hit the water. Boats rocked gently back and forth as I counted the planks on an old wooden dock. I marveled at the serenity of it all.
Soon I found myself at the end of the road with a big bridge to the right and another smaller bridge up ahead–a little to the left. Without hesitation I mad a right turn and immediately realized I was heading across the wrong part of the river if the next town was my true destination. I was now aimed at the wildlife refuge and, eventually, the beach.
Oh well, I thought. Moments before I couldn’t choose between a little time with nature and investigating a job lead with a company that was not returning my phone calls. Maybe my soul will accomplish more at the beach.
I kept driving east. The entire time I knew I was going on a detour that would eventually produce something. What I didn’t know.
Deep in thought, I nearly wrecked the car when a large bird swooped amazingly close to my windshield. This was not an ordinary bird–and it wasn’t one to normally fly so low. Oh no . . . it was a big bald eagle!
I tried desperately to multi-task–slamming on the break with my left foot and swerving the steering wheel with one hand while turning my head and body to the side as I frantically dug through my camera bag trying to find a decent lens. I was hopelessly slow and narrowly avoided the deep ditches on both sides of the road.
Determined to get a good shot of the eagle, I left my car running and still in the road as I stepped out, attached my camera lens and scrolled the sky for signs of the bird. All to no avail.
Bummed out I proceeded to Black Hawk Drive where I believed I would find more wildlife. When I arrived I was double bummed to find the roadway blocked and no entrée signs. Weeks of endless rain made all the paths unsafe.
Now what? I sat in my car and almost cried. I seemed like a weird confirmation that I couldn’t even spend an hour or so photographing birds. Yep, the pity party was setting in and I was starting to feel that everything I set my hand to was uncontrollably doomed. For a brief moment I even considered stepping on the gas, flooring it through the barricade, ignoring the rules, no fear and no common sense.
I decided to step out of the car and chase a black and yellow butterfly instead. A couple dozen photos later, I realized I may not always get what I want but I can find other options and learn to be content. There is always something fabulous to be found in nature if we only take the time . . .
With that itty bit of insight I decided to go back where I started–across the bridge and either head on home or maybe head north to where I had initially planned. Heading out of the wetlands, I found myself distracted once again.
This time it was a big black bird that flew unnervingly close to my windshield. Once again I slammed on my brakes and reached for my camera. Never in all my bird watching and nature shooting had two birds flown so dangerously close to the front of my car. This one wasn’t a bald eagle–there was to tell-tale white tip on the tail or white heathers all over the head. But I don’t think it was a vulture either . . .
Vultures collapse in the middle of the road. They simply flop out. Or they congregate and lurk. They pace back and forth. They fuss and they fret. They strut with an evil eye. They peck at the ground and are drawn to their prey. They thrive on discord and strife. Vultures turn on each other. They lie down in the middle of the road.
Lurking and looking to devour . . . Vultures don’t glide like eagles and those who watch them are never in awe of their beauty or their wonder. No, they are creepy and vile.
Meanwhile, eagles soar. They astound us. They inspire us. They fly in circles picking up momentum as they go. They allow the current of the wind to lift them higher and higher. The secret to the eagles success is not of their own accord–it is found in their confidence in the wind beneath their wings.
Eagles differ from other birds because they depend on something beyond their control and in that, they have a steady stride and an air of surety.
Ah, perhaps this is the lesson for you and me. Depend on the force of nature or the hand of God to help us rise. Too often we respond like vultures. We fall or fly below the radar and we don’t know how regain the momentum needed to rise up and overcome. She’s a sparrow when she’s broken but an eagle when she flies.
I’ve never seen an eagle flap or falter or fail. They cut through the air like mighty warriors. They fly sideways and circular with perfectly synchronized movements. Wings up; wings down. They go full force and pierce through the clouds without flinching. They have great vision and relentlessly aim for the highest landing. They never settle for anything less. They probably never take detours and they get there quickly because they never get distracted.
Once an eagle arrives, they simply sit and rest. They scope out the land seeing what was left behind as well as what lies ahead. Eagles inevitably arrive at their destination–safe and sound. They look regal and marvelous perched high and full of favor for all to see simply because they found the secret to success.
The secret is getting there, not of their own accord, but rather from trusting and relying on the wind beneath their wings. When we are tired and hopeless and ready to give up trying, we should look to the birds and watch the way they fly. There we can find new hope as we turn to the One who guides the wind.