In the Northeast corner of our church parking lot resides an aesthetically pleasing tree. It is not beautiful in the traditional sense, because it is not vibrantly green, full of foliage, nor symmetrical. It has a rustic and time-worn beauty, dripping with mossy strings. My eyes are frequently drawn to its branches and the birds and squirrels that rest there. Last week, I saw something in the tree that I had never seen there before – three majestic bald eagles!
This inspirational sighting was tainted by a scrub jay that was irritated by the eagles’ presence. From a few branches away he loudly voiced his displeasure. I thought, “What a brave little bird.” After a few moments, my thoughts (and ears) fell in line with the eagles’ point of view, “What an obnoxious pain in the neck!” Not only are scrub jays ill-tempered, but their screech makes fingers on a chalkboard seem pleasant.
It wasn’t long until the eagles had enough of the pestering. With powerful strokes of their wings, they floated out of the tree and began flying upwards towards the sky. It was beautiful. It made me think of Isaiah’s vivid imagery, “those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” As I watching them fly away I saw something else – the scrub jay was following them!
One of the eagles flew off by itself, but the other two stayed fairly close to one another. The scrub jay zipped back and forth between those two eagles, yapping and screaming as only jays can. He was driving the eagles away from what he considered to be his territory. His movements were quick and jerky, while the eagles’ were elegant and flowing. It was quite the contrast – a tiny blue and frantic bird protecting his airspace against two regal and dignified birds trying to represent the United States of America.
I kept watching. The eagles circled in slow repetitions, climbing until their height was greater than what the scrub jay could sustain. He finally descended and left the eagles to continue their graceful circles high above. These powerful eagles had their peaceful rest at tree level disrupted by a nuisance. They could not stay there maintain that peace. They had to ascend. They had to soar above the fray, -- flying so high that the nuisance could not follow.
The Lord has given us “wings” of prayer and mediation that we might soar towards Him and away from the aggravations of life that so often plague us. Relatively speaking, our problem may only be a scrub jay in significance, but when it is screeching and pecking at us, it can be extremely disconcerting. Even flapping your wings becomes difficult. Persistent and irritating small problems can seem much bigger than they are and their impact can be greatly inflated when they are right on you.
The eagles knew they could not outmaneuver or catch the jay in their talons to crush it. Engaging it in a battle would only prove a waste of their energy. Trying to wrestle with the jay would only make them look foolish and powerless. All they could do was rise.
How many times do we yap back at the scrub jays of life? How often do we try to fly wing to wing with them and deal with them on their terms? How often do we seek rest on a branch and hope the problem goes away? Instead of these futile efforts, we should mount up with wings of prayer, turn our eyes to the Lord, and meditate on Him. Circling higher and higher in prayer until we have risen above the situation. Once in His presence, and carried by the winds of His love, we can soar with the elegant peace that passes understanding.
On wings of eagles,