Eagles are amazing creatures. Unfortunately today most of us get to see them only in zoos or protected habitats. The days where eagles soared readily above the skies over America are diminishing rapidly.

There are a few places where eagles still congregate during certain times of the year. The knowledge of these regal birds being visible in these areas bring the tour guides running. But as inspiring as they are to watch you have to imagine how awe inspiring it would be to be able to join them.

To be able to lift off from an aerie or tall tree and to take to skies at will - depending on nothing other than the strength of our own wings. To ride the rising air currents for hours on end and we seek sustinence from some small game animal below. To realize that our very shadow drives hundreds of rabbits and squirrels to their lairs. It would be an amazing thing.

Apparently Isaiah wanted us to understand that having trust and confidence in the Lord brings us this same sense of freedom. We’re free because He was willing to suffer and die to bring us that freedom. Not because of what we are - but because of Who He is.

“Even youth grow tired and weary and young men
stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. They will soar on wings
like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they
will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Comparisons are natural. Comparisons are normal. It seems that every human being compares him or herself to others all of the time. The whole idea of ‘keeping up with the Jones’ come from this concept of comparison.

The list of what we compare is as long as the list of what we own.

Our car vs. their cars
Our kid’s school vs. their kid’s school
Our wardrobe vs. their wardrobe
Our bank accounts vs. their bank accounts

Some things are just beyond comparison.

Our thoughts vs. God’s thoughts
Our concept of heaven vs. the reality that God has created.
Our ways, at our absolute best, vs. the goodness of God’s ways, at His worst (as if He had a worst)

I guess as long as there are at least two little boys - each one with a marble - we’ll be suffering through comparisons. But we need to learn to look past the ephemeral to the eternal where we know that everyone will have whatever they need. After all - heaven couldn’t be heaven if our thoughts were going to be focused on who had the most. I believe that God spends much of His time helping us prepare for that kind of future. After all - it’s going to be here whether we’re prepared for it or not.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

The leaders of a small African village were meeting to discuss how to respond to a request for help from a far away village. Sickness, pestilence, famine, and drought were afflicting them and the leaders of the remote village were crying out for help.

All of the village families are gathered together and bring everything that they can spare to send to the aid of their countrymen in the remote village. One orphaned young man stands near the periphery and listens. His heart hurts for these people that he had never met.

He struggles with wanting to help them, but due to his own abject poverty he has nothing to give. He has been blessed during his own struggles after the loss of his parents by those members of his own village - they’ve made sure that he was fed and had shelter. A young man growing up being imprinted with a view that when people are in need you help them - no questions - no surveys - no focus groups. You just do what you need to do to be sure that they have what they need.

The village elders call for the families of the village to bring their gifts and offerings to the middle near the fire and put them down. The head of family after family brings their extra blanket, bowl, or bag of flour that could be given to their suffering countryman. Each man lays his gift at the feet of the elders and backs away.

The young man, seeing the continued generosity of those who had helped him in his time of trouble slowly makes his way to the front to the line. When it is time to offer his gift he moves to the middle of the growing pile and sits down. Having nothing to give he decides to give the only thing he does have - himself. He volunteers to take all of the contribution to the remote village and stay until those he has gone to help are able to care for themselves again.

The young man who learned of care and benevolence through his own needs becomes an extreme example of this same attitude of generosity. Maybe there is a lesson in this - that when we think we have the least to offer we are actually able the give the most.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: “Here am I.”
Isaiah 58:6-9

In our culture we tend to want to say that we are self taught, self directed people. We want to claim that we’re in control of our own destiny and determine the direction of our own sails.

As grandiose as it sounds…it is seldom true. I’m sure that there are those individuals out there who can honestly claim that there has been little to no influence exerted on their lives by anyone other than themselves. They listened to no one…heard no one…and learned from no one. Some of the roughest times in my own life have come when I thought that this was the correct way to live and I, too, resisted.

I remember reading Joshua’s speech to the Israelites when he said for them to “Choose this day whom you will serve….” and was struck by it. The logical, idealistic, independent American in me rebelled instantly. “Serve! We don’t have to serve anyone. We’re a free people who stand on their own.”

Let a few years pass…let some bad things happen to you. Let the props get kicked out from under you a couple times. The pink slip…the certified letter…the knock on the door…or the red lights in the rear view mirror and pretty soon you figure out that you’re not always in control. And, if we want to be truthful with ourselves, we’ll admit that we out of control more than we’re in it.

Control is something that should be exercised with care and caution. I believe that we might find that it is often better to allow the One who made us to have control over our lives. After all, He built us….he just might know what is the best course of action for us.

Now if we can just get control of that ego so that we can more easily turn ourselves over to Him….now that takes work.

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches
you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”
Isaiah 48:17b

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