An excerpt from Finishing It UP—with a Flourish, book in progress
(Sequel to Leona’s book Living It Up! For Seasoned Saints
Aging Eagle Saints
“...Those who wait for the Lord--who expect, look for and hope in Him--shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” Ampl. Isa. 40:28-31
“[The Lord] who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age] with good; so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! Ampl. Psa. 103:5
So what is all this about eagles? Why didn’t God compare His children to a chicken, vulture, parrot, crow, canary or a turkey?
An eagle is the king of the birds, remarkable, bold, powerful, large, and clean. It is tenacious, intelligent, committed for life to its mate, and terrifically aerodynamic. Eagles only flap their wings about ten percent of flight time, not continuously like other birds. They soar on air currents….
….God has put into the eagle the instinct for daily grooming which it tends to meticulously. It spends up to an hour each day sitting quietly on a rock in the sun preening and cleaning its feathers. A large eagle has up to 7,000 feathers, about 1,200 on each wing. It passes each feather through its mouth and breathes on it as if steam cleaning. That restores its feathers from yesterday's wear and tear. A gland in the eagle's mouth secretes oil to weatherproof and waterproof the feathers so it can dive in the water for fish.
In spite of all that daily maintenance, the time comes in the life span of this majestic bird when all its wonderful functions begin to diminish and wear down. It faces an aging, deteriorating crisis, unable to navigate in the air as before. Its eyes are becoming dim and no longer moist, its talons are not as sharp, and calcium deposits on its beak prevent it from being able to hunt well. The eagle is losing strength and its feathers are becoming sparse. (Sound familiar?) It is one tired bird!
It could give up and settle down on a canyon floor, wings drooping, dragging itself around in its weakness. If it remains in the valley, it will surely die there. The valley is not the place where God intends eagles to die; moreover, it may not be time for its death. When a strong eagle sees the bedraggled, defeated eagle in the canyon, it screams at it and dives down to stir up the eagle to leave the unprotected low places where its enemies may take advantage of its weakness. It must "mount up with wings as an eagle" to the highest place it can find. Away from all distractions it must follow its God-ordained instincts alone.
The aging eagle is “programmed by God” to find a high flat rock in the direct sunshine. For two weeks it works hard to rub and scrape its talons against the rock to sharpen them again. It knocks its blunt beak repeatedly against the rock or a branch to break off the calcium deposits until the old beak crumbles away revealing a renewed one. If necessary, it flies headlong into a rock to accomplish that.
The eagle keeps returning to the moving water of a fresh stream to drink from the cool water and bathe to get rid of all lice, parasites, and mud that encrust its feathers and hinder its flight. All the while it is plucking out its worn feathers until it is nearly naked. Undoubtedly a painful procedure, but its remarkable instinct tells the eagle that this pruning is necessary for renewal. The eagle spends most of its time resting quietly and warming itself in the sun. It continues its restoration for forty days until its new feathers are grown and all its functions are re-energized. Its eyes become clear as a young eagle's again, its talons and beak are razor-sharp, and its normal strength has returned.
When the eagle senses that its restoration is complete, it takes off again soaring to the heights, crying loudly with its renewed voice and with the rejuvenated capabilities and strength of a young eagle. Once renewed, it is said that if you compare it with a young eagle only a year and a half old, you can’t tell the difference.
An eagle doesn't migrate like some other birds. It never goes far from the rock on which it was born. In the eagle's life cycle, when it senses that the time has really come to die, it goes to its home rock, wraps its talons around it securely, and quietly watches the sun set. It looks directly into the sun with a faraway look in its eyes. The bird is not necessarily sick, but God has put into its heart that the time has come to desire to be free from the present world. The eagle instinctively knows that its purpose on earth is complete. When the sun has set, it lies down and peacefully dies.
God has put into the hearts of His children to go through a time or many times of renewal like the eagle, especially during a long lifetime. But eventually, like the eagle, we clearly sense from God that the time has come, that we have reached "a time to die," to go to The Rock of our birth, Jesus, for the final flight into Eternity.
Jesus endured the pain and suffering of the cross, but at a certain point He knew from God that the time to release His spirit had finally come and declared, "It is finished. Into Thy hands I commit my spirit." This was His deliberate action, His decision. His life was not taken from Him.
Likewise there is a knowing point in time when a child of God is no longer "hard pressed between the two" desires, to go or to remain, as the apostle Paul declared was his experience. He knew the time had finally come to release his spirit into the presence of God.
"With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation" (Psalm 91:16) is God's promise. The time eventually comes when the child of God is truly satisfied to fly into God’s presence because God counts his life complete. He accepts God’s plan and rests in the perfect timing of God. He "faces the sun" (Son) and focuses on his destination at peace for the joy that is set before him, anticipating at last to experience the salvation God has promised him. He hangs on tenaciously to The Rock, and The Rock, Christ Jesus, holds tightly to him.
It should be obvious how these eagle characteristics can apply to us spiritually, especially to those who are advancing in years and feeling the diminishing not only of our physical and mental capacities but of our spiritual vigor.
As we search the Scriptures, we find many passages about renewing, restoring, putting off, putting on, pruning, becoming strengthened, resting, waiting on God, and pressing on to the finish. We can begin by meditating on the verses quoted at the beginning of this chapter. Then we can go on to explore Philippians 3:10-14; Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:22-25; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 4:16; 5:17; Colossians 3:10; Titus 3:5; and Psalm 51:10. God’s Word encourages us to press on the upward way to new heights to the very end of our lives. Who of us doesn’t need such renewal, not only day by day but at some milestone points in our lives?
We should not talk ourselves out of a satisfying long life of walking with the Lord and continuing to serve Him by taking “fourscore and ten” out of context. That is not meant as the norm for our life span. Moses wrote those words in Psalm 90:10 about the people of
When we do begin to feel the burden of the years and the diminishing of our human strength, we should follow the eagle’s example of the renewal the Lord provides for us. We should come apart alone with the Lord and deal with the unproductive, hindering things that have accumulated in our lives like suckers and get rid of the buildup of non-essentials. We must “put them off.” Many things “so easily beset us” and hold us down from flying high with the Lord. It may hurt to pluck such things out of our lives, but our renewal is worth some temporary suffering. God’s eagle renewal restores us to live abundantly in Christ so we can complete the race that is set before us and finish God’s purpose through us.
We should not stay down on our canyon floor and have a pity party wallowing in our depression. Our canyon floor will become a place of defeat and death. We are meant to rise to the holy mountain of the Lord’s presence and be strengthened. Jesus Christ has abundant restorative powers available to re-invigorate us both spiritually and physically….
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