“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” Exodus 19:4 (NIV)
As I sang the beautiful song in church this week, I saw myself standing on a mountaintop as all below burned and crumbled away, with smoke, and waves of steam rising up, as if it were the end of the world. I lifted my arms in praise to God. I lifted my face. I trusted that He is good, no matter the bad news I had received of a friend’s cancer diagnosis. As I stood there, in my minds eye, an eagle soared up to me, swept me onto its back and flew with me above the disaster.
In real life, we are not removed from the world and its troubles, yet somehow God carries us through, without us being destroyed. Jesus himself prayed this: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)
When our own family crisis hit back in December, I felt as if I were free falling.
I used to have a recurring dream as a girl about a huge tiger chasing me. In my dream world, I ran desperately away from the danger across an open plain until, suddenly, I arrived at a cliff and helpless to stop my momentum, I tumbled off. Cold, wind whistled past my face as I fell endlessly down into empty space. Each time, I woke up before hitting the ground – but I never was saved.
During this recent trouble in my family, I felt a physical presence holding me up during the worst moments, like an eagle with wings.
Numerous times in J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth, eagles come to the rescue of the human characters. The final time is perhaps the most dramatic – Frodo and Sam resign themselves to death as they stand alone upon crumbling Mount Doom:
“And so it was that Gwaihir saw them with his keen far-seeing eyes, as down the wild wind he came, and daring the great peril of the skies he circled in the air: two small dark figures, forlorn, hand in hand upon a little hill, while the world shook under them, and gasped, and rivers of fire drew near. And even as he espied them and came swooping down, he saw them fall, worn out, or choked with fumes and heat, or stricken down by despair at last, hiding their eyes from death. Side by side they lay; and down swept Gwaihir and down came Landroval and Meneldor the swift; and in a dream, not knowing what fate had befallen them, the wanderers were lifted up and borne far away out of the darkness and the fire.” (The Return of the King)
Each person was given an eagle to ride. Gandalf swooped down on Gwaihir and the two other eagles came to carry Frodo and Sam.
No matter what we face – or how our situations develop, God sees us with his “keen far-seeing eyes” and rescues us individually. Not only does His presence become tangible, others are with us, too. Support systems get activated when we look around to see who is there for us.
What is your experience of God’s eagle wings?