Exodus 19: 3-4
3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called out to him from the mountain and said, "Give these instructions to the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle's wings.
Today, I want to discuss two aspects of God’s love for us, two qualities of our relationship with God that are presented in this verse. First, God is a loving Parent and wants His children around. We are told, “You know how I brought you to myself….” That is a powerful description of how God feels about us: He wants us near; He wants our company and wants the Presence of God to be vividly apparent in our consciousness. He wants us to be aware that Spirit is always with us. When we stray, or get confused and take off on our own, God will gently call us and guide us back. He will bring us to Him.
That pretty much sums up God’s attitude towards us: He loves us and wants us near. He wants us to come unto Him. The Christ says in Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
God was trying to explain to Moses that when he was sent into Egypt to lead the people out, he was not leading them to a new location; Moses was leading God’s people to God. God was bringing His children home.
So it is with all of us, in all that we do – God is trying to capture our attention and bring us home. This is why it is so important to move frequently into prayer, both a formal time of prayer and an attitude of prayer in all of our activities.
This is what is meant by the phrase “wait on the Lord”. We wait in the quiet and silence of a still mind and anticipate the Presence of Spirit. We open our hearts and minds to Christ and await guidance, peace, joy, and love. This is how God “brings us to Him”, by our waiting for the Divine to appear in our awareness.
The second aspect I want to highlight is God’s loving attention to us. We are told in Isaiah 40:31, “… those who wait for 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.”
Again here is a metaphorical reference to an eagle in this verse. Deuteronomy 32:11-12 also has Moses referencing an eagle when describing God: As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovering over its young, spreading its wings to catch them and bearing them on its pinions, so the Lord alone was guide to them, and no strange god was with Him.
This verse has caused quite a sensation over the years. There have been people who claim that the verse cannot really be about an eagle but must be referencing God Himself, because eagles don’t carry their young on their backs. Why can’t we just take a beautiful metaphor and be happy with it? Must we turn creative description into an argument?
In this particular case, however, the science behind Deuteronomy is apparently sound, despite that naturalists have never witnessed it themselves. I found several accounts of eagles carrying their young on its back. Here are three, if we can believe them:
Dr. Loye Miller (1918) published the following account given to him by one of his students, Miss F. E. Shuman. This reference is also in the 1937 Bulletin of the Smithsonian No. 167, pg 302: “The Mother started from the nest in the crags, and roughly handling the young, she allowed him to drop, I should say, about ninety feet, then she would swoop down under him, wings spread, and he would alight on her back. She would soar to the top of the range with him and repeat the process. One time she waited perhaps fifteen minutes between flights, I should say the farthest she let him fall was 150 feet.”
Another published example comes from W.L. Alexander, who was quoting from Sir Humphrey Davy’s book, Salmonia: “Two parent eagles on Ben Weevis were teaching their offspring, two young birds, the manoeuvres of flight.” Rising from the top of a mountain, they "at first made small circles and the young imitated them; they paused on their wings waiting till they had made their first flight, holding them on their expanded wings when they appeared exhausted, and then took a second and larger gyration, always rising towards the sun, and enlarging their circle of flight, so as to make a gradually ascending spiral.”
And one from the Yeoman’s England 1934 pg 135, W.B. Thomas writes: “…the parent birds, after urging, and sometimes shoving the youngster into the air, will swoop underneath and rest the struggler for a moment on their wings and back.”
I mention these examples because I think it is important to point out that the Bible uses actual examples from real life as well as wonderful spiritual metaphors, similes, allusions, and allegories to describe God and our relationship with God.
The eagle simile in Isaiah describes how God attends to our humanity. When we wait upon the Lord our strength is renewed; we will soar on wings like eagles, and we will walk and not faint. In other words, when we move into prayer and experience the presence of God, we are filled with strength, courage, confidence, vitality, and hope. We are transformed and renewed as faith, wisdom, joy, peace, and love flow through us.
We are lifted up by the Grace of God, just as the eagle is lifted when its wings catch the winds. The more we surrender to Spirit, letting go of our egoistic desire to control and manage our own lives, the more easily we ascend beyond the effects of our earthly journey. We take these spiritual upgrades and apply them to our lives, thoughts, words, and actions. There is no indication that we are raised upon eagle’s wings to stay there aloft. No, we are lifted so that we can continue doing as God guides us; we are lifted in order to stay in action, live, and be of service.
And like those eaglets, we are learning to fly: although we may leap from the nest, or perhaps we are pushed…, we are not left alone to plummet to our death. No, God swoops in, captures us on His broad wings and raises us to ever higher levels. When we get tired, God is always near; ready to lift us, carry us, and guide us.
In Psalm 91:14-15 we read, “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
We may never escape the challenges of life, but with God we don’t have to fear them or wonder if we have the strength to endure or the courage to face them. Having said that, it is incumbent upon us to make the effort to commune with God. There have been times in my life when I have claimed that I love God, yet I did not spend time with God; I didn’t apply the love and joy of God to my life. I lived like a “happy heathen”, and at times I still do. I can be egotistical, self-serving, fearful, and at times live as if God doesn’t even exist.
As I observe our society, I notice others behaving similarly. It’s not that people are cruel, but many of us live by social values; we do what society dictates. We don’t reach out to help people in need because God is not a reality in our lives. When treat God as a mere concept, we don’t rely on God, we are not living in the shelter of Spirit, and are not experiencing all the benefits of our Creator.
When we come unto the Christ, those burdens are lifted – the fear and the exhaustion are relieved, and we feel younger. Things “out there” don’t change; our inner being changes. God’s spirit is within each of us, and in Spirit there is only radiant, dynamic, ageless life and energy. By turning our thoughts to God, we stir up that truth within us and we feel vitally alive, strong, healthy, and enthusiastic.
As we allow ourselves to be gathered up by God, love flows. We have loving and positive thoughts about God, about ourselves, and about everyone in our family of Spirit. We can look upon the activities of humanity with love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. We are more and more grateful for the Creator and all of Creation. “…I raise you up on eagles’ wings and bring you to Myself.” One blessing of being raised up by God and returning to God’s Presence is that we can, in turn, raise others up by our intentions and actions.
Spiritual teach, Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote this for our soul's illumination:
"You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? "Well because someone bumped into me, of course!"
You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It's easy to fake it, until you get rattled. So we have to ask ourselves… "what's in my cup?" When life gets tough, what spills over? Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility? Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions? You choose! Today let's work towards filling our cups with gratitude, forgiveness, joy…."
My prayer is that we live a life of joy, courage, strength, peace, love, and service. I pray that we are fully aware that God is always with us, and that we are protected, guided, and are being trained. Above all, I pray that we know that we are loved, and that we are ever held in the palm of God’s hand.