From Mourning Dove to Eagle Christian Part 3
These are grievous times for those who love our country. We must deal simultaneously with a global pandemic, unemployment, business shutdowns, churches forced to stay closed, violent social unrest, lack of trust in government and media, anger, fear, and confusion . . . We wonder where it will lead. Are we losing our once strong and cherished country? Whether the future presents us with incredible opportunities or intense adversities, navigating them effectively will take faith, hope, love, courage, and resilience as never before. It will take our being Eagle Christians.
In Part 1, we laid groundwork, explaining why we must not allow ourselves to assume an internal identity like that of Mourning Doves but rather of Eagle Christians. In Part 2, we looked at three Eagle Christian attributes: They receive training, they fly high, and they often fly alone. In Part 3, we will look at three more significant attributes of the Eagle Christian: They are birds of prey, they have powerful vision, and they are fearless.
EAGLES ARE BIRDS OF PREY
Let’s begin with the eagle’s nature. We must not ignore the fact that for all its grace and beauty, the eagle is a “raptor.” This word derives from the Latin word, rapere, meaning to snatch, grab, take away, plunder. Unlike the gentle mourning doves that eat primarily seeds, berries, fruit, and sometimes worms or other insects, God made the eagle a “bird of prey.” He is not prey; he preys on others. Of course, eagle eggs, chicks, and eaglets can be attacked, but experts say this is rare since eagle parents are almost always there to protect the nest.
Because of their size and strength, healthy adult eagles have no natural predators. Their hooked bills and powerful talons enable them to hunt vertebrates that are much larger relative to their own size. This advantage makes them unpopular with other birds and often opens them to harassment. A group of crows sometimes mobs, but rarely harms, a solitary eagle. The eagle might fight back but most often just moves on for better pursuits.
How do we relate? Often, the Church envisions Jesus as meek and mild, gently carrying a lamb. Of course, this is one side of His nature. Like eagle parents, He is intensely attentive and tender toward His children. But just as an eagle is fierce when hunting, Jesus is fierce in His attack on evil. At Christmastime, we focus on a harmless baby. Yet, if we draw back the curtain, we can see Him saying, “Yes, Father, I will go to earth and sacrifice myself to plunder hell.” Indeed, His coming was nothing short of an all-out attack on the kingdom of darkness.
A blinded world at most tolerates a gentle Jesus, certainly not one who has a claim on people’s lives. Ironically, even the demons were wise enough to recognize His authority when the real Jesus came to town. They cried, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (See Matt. 8:29.)
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan asked Mr. Beaver if Aslan is safe, to which Mr. Beaver replied, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.” To those who surrender to Jesus, He is safe – compassionate, tender, loving. To the defiant, however, he is anything but. Soon, He will rend the heavens and return in glory with heaven’s armies; He will “tread the winepress of the fury of God’s wrath” (See Rev. 19:11-16.); and people will see how wrong they have been about Him.
What about the Church? The Lord wants us to follow His lead, being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving toward those in His family (Eph. 4:32). He also wants us to be fierce about shining His light in this world and delivering souls from hell. Our Lord promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (See Matt. 16:18.) What did He mean? He meant that hell’s fortress will not withstand a militant assault from the Church when she understands and employs her resources and armaments.
We may protest, “I just want to soar majestically on the wings of His Spirit.” That’s splendid but not our sole purpose. We may ask, “Well, aren’t we supposed to play it safe . . . be safe . . . be nice in this world?” In a word, “No.” God called us to soar with joy, but also to be dangerous, not benign, to evil.
Perhaps we get real at this point and admit we feel weak and hope that somehow things will soon blow over and leave us unharmed. But hope is not something weak. Look at the Apostle Paul who suffered a lifetime of relentless hardships yet emphatically stood in hope, declaring, “Hope does not disappoint us” (Rom. 5:5a), and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Paul was victimized but never gave in to victimhood. He never became prey. His battle wounds were badges of honor that he wore triumphantly.
We should know that the devils of hell sense danger and feel fear when they see us coming in faith. They notice when we’ve discovered our powerful weapons that destroy their strongholds. (See 2 Cor. 10:4.) They know when we see them more as harassing crows than mighty adversaries. They see us rise up and fly toward them in attack mode – with the Spirit’s fire in our eyes, spiritual talons open, our will fixed in unyielding resolve. And they shriek and flee!
EAGLES HAVE POWERFUL VISION
An eagle can see the big picture in his world! He simultaneously sees both straight ahead and sideways. Yet, he can also narrow his focus. With acute vision, he can fix his focus on a mouse a mile below and two miles away! When he sees prey, he will not lose focus until he catches it. Perhaps there are obstacles or distractions, but he gives them no heed.
Have you heard of an “eagle eye” (not a literal one but the idiom)? If you speak of someone having an eagle eye, you mean they scrutinize things carefully. Employees don’t like a boss with an eagle eye looking over their shoulder. Still, this can be a great trait, even more so when it is a spiritual gifting. Let’s say you are being trained under the discerning eagle eye of a solid pastor or mentor. That means they take their calling seriously and are gifted to make sure you become sound in life and doctrine. We should welcome this kind of attention.
The Old Testament sons of Issachar were known, not just for reacting at situations, but for “seeing” what action to take. The Bible says they had 200 leaders who understood the times and how Israel should best respond (See 1 Chron. 12:32.) How we need this today! Recently, we have seen the “enemy come in like a flood” (Isa. 59:19). It seems that agents of darkness have long planned their well-coordinated attack – “the day of evil” -- for this moment. But where was the Church? Were we preparing, too? It seems not sufficiently. Had we the eyes to see it coming, perhaps we would have planned a more effective preemptive attack in the Spirit against it.
If the sons of Issachar had such powerful vision, why not us? Just think of what God has made available to us who live on this side of Pentecost! The Holy Spirit is here to give us keen foresight and to guide us into all truth!
How do you “see” yourself? Perhaps you see yourself as too old (or too young), tired, or inadequate and unable to make a difference. If so, you need your spiritual eyesight renewed. God’s Word says He “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5). With proper vision, you can grab this promise as your own, break away from the crowd, and move to where hope is high.
This is God’s will for you! He wants to renew and satisfy you with the joy of soaring high in the heavenly realms. Remember, an earth-bound vision will fail you, but a heavenly one will enable you to mount up with confident faith and see from the heights – where Christ is seated and where you are with Him. (See Eph. 2:6 and Col. 3:1-2) He calls, “Come up here where the air is pure and your vision unconstrained, where you won’t lose sight of who I am, who you are in Me, and what you are about.”
EAGLES ARE FEARLESS
Some observers say eagles find a gathering storm thrilling. While other birds hide in trees for safety, eagles fly toward the storm. Why don’t they try to escape? Because eagles have unique abilities. They use the strong winds, as well as updrafts blowing off hills and mountains, to rise quickly above the clouds. The winds also set them up for long distance flights to other locales, especially when migrating. Once an eagle catches the storm’s wind, he can lock his wings in a fixed position, stop flapping and use the air pressure to soar and glide. Golden eagles can glide almost effortlessly up to 120 mph.
While eagles enjoy the thrills of soaring through the heavens, they do not live pampered lives; and nor will we. We suffer life’s trials like everyone else – sickness, tragedies, disappointment, failure, rejection, and persecution.
Ordinary people may look for the easy way in everything. Many are adept at “skillful avoidance,” cloaking timidity or lack of courage in spiritual terms something akin to, “Look, there is a tree! Praise God, He’s given us a spot to go hide from the storm!”
But Eagle Christians do not see the storms and run. The world conspires to pull them down, but they refuse to let the circumstances around them shape them and sink them into gloom and fear. They know that it is not life’s trials that weigh people down and render them ineffective for the Kingdom but how they handle those trials. They may suffer in battle, but they remain hope-filled, fully determined to follow Christ and live for His praise and glory.
Eagle Christians feels energized when the Spirit beckons them to fly above the storms so they can look down on earth’s troubles. Riding on the currents with Him who cannot fail, the One whom the winds obey, they learn to navigate the storms and use them for a greater purpose. Refusing to yield to their fears, they yield to Spirit. In this, they learn tenacity in trials, grace in conflicts, and courage in persecution; in this, they experience the adventures and see the victories of living by faith. When in attack mode, they fly straight to hell’s gates and overcome them by “the blood of Jesus and the word of their testimony.” (See Rev. 12:11.)
For us, going to the next level in this hour spiritually is particularly significant as it requires flying through intensifying storms of opposition. But God can use these storms to prod us to spiritual heights we didn’t think possible, where we discover His magnificent strength in our wings, and marvel at the peace and confidence we feel in living a risen life in Him.
Remember, we are different, called to be strangers and aliens in this world. Let people look at us and see lofty, soaring, confident, and thriving creatures shining God’s light out to the nations. Let them see our hope-filled lives and wonder at the goodness and greatness of God in us. Let them want to join us in the high adventure.
IN CONCLUSION: Ultimately, everything that is shaken will be removed so that only what cannot be shaken will remain (See Heb. 12:27). In other words, in the end, God’s Kingdom alone will be left standing. Peter asks us, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” (2 Pet. 3:11a)
What kind of people do YOU think we should be? These are tumultuous, challenging, stormy times. But we must not sit grieving. We were made to fly, not to hold back. We have realms to explore, tasks to complete, and devils to defeat. You and I are meant to be Eagle Christians. Now, let’s rise up and soar!
PRAYER: Lord, I refuse to carry the identity of a “mourning dove.” By faith, I take on the mantle of “Eagle Christian.” I want to be teachable, to fly high, to fly alone when necessary. I ask that I’ll be kind and caring toward Your people and love the lost enough to plunder hell for their salvation. Please give me acute spiritual vision to perceive the heights to which I can soar as one born of Your Spirit. Let me attack the storms of life fearlessly and to reign in the heavens with You. Yes, there are troubles and persecutions, but I trust Your grace for mastery over every challenge. Thank you for heaven’s resources available to me. By faith, let me draw upon them boldly to impact my world for Your glory. Amen!
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea . . .
-- Psalm 46:1-2
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