Yesterday I was walking into the parking lot after church, somewhat weary from the morning’s events, when I saw a shadow swiftly pass by on the ground. I glanced up at the sky, and just a moment later a hawk glided over my head. Without a single flap of its wings, it smoothly wheeled itself all the way around the church parking lot in search of prey. It was low enough for me to see its outstretched wings, even to the wingtip feathers, but high enough to glide on the rising currents of heat.
I stood in awe and watched as it glided, still without a flap, out of sight. Immediately a familiar verse crossed my mind, but with new meaning.
but they who wait for 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.
Usually when I read that verse I think about how eagles mount up; they spread their majestic wings and rise with each powerful stroke. But, for birds of prey, most of their time flying is actually spent riding on currents of air. They sense the wind beneath their wings and skillfully use it to guide them on their way. They are, to some extent, at the mercy of the air. But they know how to leverage it for their benefit. The result is something beautiful enough to stop us in our tracks as we gaze in wonder at creation; it seems so effortless.
Yes, the verse means that God can give us strength if we wait on him. But I wonder if we think too much about God providing us with incredible “mounting” strength and not enough about God providing us with humble “gliding” strength. Am I sensitive to the providential currents of air God has placed in my life? Am I wasting my energy fearfully flapping when, if I were patient, God could teach me to spread my wings and glide? While gliding appears to be effortless, we all know it actually requires an immense amount of trust. Both gliding and mounting demand spiritual strength that only God can give, but I think the majority of the Christian life is sensitive, skillful gliding.
What new heights could we soar to by simply being attentive to God’s leading? Today is your new opportunity.