WHEN HOPE TAKES FLIGHT
Eagles are such beautiful birds. Majestic. Powerful. Impressive. I could watch videos of bald eagles all day (sometimes I do!). A recent photo of a bald eagle in flight with its wings barely touching the surface of the water in perfect symmetry went viral…
Bald eagles have always been a source of inspiration. From its piercing eyes to its ability to soar above the clouds, the eagle inspires us to reach for our dreams, face our challenges and be all that God created us to be. I think the eagle is a great example of vision, strength, and perseverance. We can learn from the eagle, even when we are facing difficulties, brokenness, and pain.
The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:31
“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 faint.” (NIV)
Wouldn’t you like to soar like the eagle, run without growing weary, walk without fainting? We can if our hope is in the Lord.
Romans 15:13 also says,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The God of hope promises to fill us with hope as we trust in him and are empowered by the Holy Spirit. And along with hope, he also promises to give us joy and peace!
What is the difference between genuine biblical hope and wishful thinking? Hope takes flight. It lifts you above your circumstances and is focused on something bigger and outside yourself.
Wishful thinking is passive. It wishes things were different, the past didn’t happen, and the future would be brighter, but it doesn’t do anything about it. It just wishes.
Hope, on the other hand, takes action, is proactive, and is focused on the future and the God who is always at work (even when we don’t see it). Hope takes flight.
You can sit in a puddle of wishes, hoping things would change, or you can turn to the God of hope, asking him to help you experience true hope, joy, and peace.
When our hope takes flight we can soar like the eagle.
God created the eagle’s eyes to see great distances, and with clarity and focus. When the eagle is at a high altitude and sees his prey up to a mile away, he locks in and drops from the sky at upwards of 100 miles per hour, then swoops down and snatches its prey in its strong talons. The fish never had a chance. Hope has vision and sees things that are a great way off. It has a confident expectation in the future because God is good, and joins God in partnership to bring about desired changes. Like the eagle, hope is focused and clear because it is based in reality and not blind optimism. “Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.” (H. Nouwen, “Turn My Mourning into Dancing”)
The eagle is strong. With a wingspan averaging 7-8 feet, the 12-14 pound bird doesn’t fear the storm. In fact, when a storm comes and most birds head for cover, the eagle turns toward the storm. As he flies into the storm, it lifts him above the storm, where he is safe and can rest his wings. He uses the storm to lift him higher. In the same way, can we turn toward the storms of life and use them to lift us higher? Instead of living in fear or denial and running from the storms, let’s courageously allow our hope to take flight and by overcoming the storms we will find joy and peace.
The eagle perseveres. He flies great distances, makes his nest high in the mountains or treetops, and lives a long life (average 20 years, but some have lived as much as 40). He’s a survivor. Character has been defined as the “ability to carry out a resolution long after the excitement has passed.” Hope does that. We need hope to run and not be weary and walk and not faint. Hope is about the future. Hope and time work together (or maybe against each other!). In the ESV, Isaiah 40:13 again says if we want to persevere, we must wait on the Lord. Hope is patient. Psychologist Dr. John Townsend says, “With hope, we endure the now, in anticipation of a better future”. We may not be experiencing a better future now, so we wait patiently for it, trusting that God is good and He is for us. We do our part to grow, grieve, get support, and all the other things required of us to grow while trusting that God is doing his part too. We move from hopelessness to hopefulness over time as we (and others) see positive changes in our lives. We graduate from denial and wishful thinking to active participants in our own growth and healing as we allow hope to take flight!
When a client comes to First Step Pregnancy Clinic where I am the Director, they are usually confused, scared and feeling alone. “Am I pregnant?” “How could this have happened?” “What will I do? How will I tell my parents?” They lack hope, and they don’t know which way to turn, or who to trust. As we lovingly show them grace and concern, when they might be expecting shame or judgment, they begin to feel hopeful. Giving them time to breath; reassuring them of the resources available to them, as well as a community of support, hope grows. Slowly they begin to see how their life can not only be different, but better, and they start to make plans for their new future. Hope takes flight. Heavenward. Together. Full of joy and peace which leads to greater hope and a touch from the God of hope.
David Wilkinson – BIO
I Grew up in Southern Calif. And have been involved in pastoral ministry for 30+ years. I earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis MO in 1982. For the past 12 years have been serving full-time in pro-life pregnancy center ministry, with the goal of helping moms see the value and destiny of their unborn children and them empowering them to choose life for themselves and their babies. I have been the Executive Director’s of centers in CA, ID and now Vermont where I have served as the Executive Director of First Step Pregnancy Clinic. I have been married to Wendy for 42 years, have 3 married children and 5 grandchildren. Currently living in Rutland Vermont.
As an added note: David Wilkinson is a contributing author to “And He Restoreth My Soul” chapter twenty-three Equipping the Congregation to Help the Sexually Abused.