Monday, April 22, 2013

Eagles and Geese

When I was in high school I remember going on a youth retreat where the theme for the weekend was Eagles and Geese, and how as Christians we are to be like eagles and geese. These two concepts may seem mutually exclusive but are not necessarily so. When I see eagles, I always see them high in the sky and alone: always soaring, and very majestic. Geese are different. They move in groups and are seen on their migration packs in a V formation and move in a flock, never really alone. So, how are we to be like both of these birds?
In Isaiah 40:27 Isaiah asks the question

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
To me this verse speaks of the pain of being alone, of feeling alone. There are times when we may be physically surrounded by people, but feel alone; feel as if there’s no one we can go to, and no one we can rely on except ourselves. Isaiah refutes the theory that we are always alone having only ourselves and our strength to rely on. The rest of the passage states that we have God! By ourselves we cannot do it, we do not have the strength and the fortitude to persevere (verse 30), but through God and His strength we will (verse 28, 29, 31). Isaiah tells us in verse 28 that He is the everlasting God, in 29, He grants strength to those who need it, and in 31 that He will make us soar like eagles. 
Sometimes we are also asked to stand alone, be the only voice of truth. The same concept applies. We are not alone, we are not called to bear the burden alone, but through God and His strength we will make it. Verse 31 is one of my favorite verses, it’s a promise that God will not leave us or forsake us but be the wind beneath our wings and the power that we soar majestically on. 
But also, we are to be there and bear the burdens of others. Have you ever watched geese fly when they migrate? The fly in a V formation, the bird in front doing the majority of the work, making a path through the sky for the rest of the geese making it easier to fly, especially the further back in the V the bird is. When the lead bird gets tired, he moves to the back of the V and another bird automatically takes the lead. In the back of the V, the bird is not flying on his strength, but the strength of the birds before him. Romans 15:1-7 talks about this:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 
“Bear with the failings of the weak”. I love that phrase. I know I feel like I’ve failed when my strength gives out. I feel like I haven’t given my all or tried hard enough. But that’s what the friends I have around me are for. They aren’t there to complain to, but to be the shoulder, to tell me that I’m loved, to edify and encourage me when there is nothing left but feelings of failings as verse 2 tells us to do. Christ was our perfect example with this. Christ took on all of our failings, all of our sins (and feeling like you’ve failed when you ran out of your strength is a sin because we did not rely on God) when he died on the cross. He gave us the eternal supernatural strength that we need, and this strength can come through our fellow Christians, our Sister’s, lifting us up and encouraging us. I won’t lie, there are times when we are the lead bird, bearing the brunt of the burdens of others. I have also found out that most of us prefer to be the lead bird, it’s our comfort spot, but God in His infinite wisdom gave us a way to recover and recoup from the brunt of the work. There are times when we need to let someone else lead and lift our wings for us, to be our strength. God does not expect us to live off of our strength alone, but by the edification of Him and His word, and the others around us.

Bible verses taken from the NIV