George Bowers Sr.: We can soar on eagle’s wings
On Wednesday of next week, America will celebrate its 242nd birthday. Most will have a day off to picnic, swim, and enjoy fireworks. As we mark this milestone in our nation’s history, it’s a great time to pause and consider God’s creative genius demonstrated in our national bird, the bald eagle, and to contemplate what it can mean for us.
Although Ben Franklin proposed a national symbol with a wild turkey, Congress approved one in 1782 that included the bald eagle instead. Ever since, this regal bird has come to symbolize strength and resolve and is prominently featured today on our currency, the top of our flagpoles, and many other public locations.
Though threatened by extinction just a few decades ago, bald eagles have bounced back from the brink and now inhabit areas they never did previously. Even in our own valley, we are privileged to occasionally glimpse one perched way up in a tree or soaring high overhead. Aside from its dignity and beauty, however, this magnificent bird is truly an engineering marvel.
Weighing an average of 14 pounds, an adult can actually carry a 15-pound payload of salmon or other cargo, lifting it into the sky for consumption at a secure location. Although Agur was unable to understand the eagle’s ability to fly in Proverbs 30:19, we now know this is possible because of its enormous 7-to-8-foot wingspan and powerful flight muscles.
Most all birds were designed to fly with hollow bones and aerodynamic wings, but the eagle was given special gifts. The combined weight of all of her more than 7,000 feathers is less than a pound and half and her skeleton only weighs half that. These efficiencies enable this stately creature to fly some 45 miles per hour and dive up to 100.
God has also blessed this bird with incredible visual abilities. With eyesight that is four to five times stronger than our own, it can pinpoint prey from great heights. If we could see as well as they, we would be able to detect an ant on the ground from the top of a 10-story building. Eagles can also see into the ultraviolet end of the light spectrum that is invisible to humans and they can even correct for the refraction of light in water that could otherwise cause problems for them when they go fishing for dinner.
In addition to their vision, bald eagles have other particular advantages that make them superior predators. After locating a target from high above and rapidly diving toward it, upon impact, the eagle’s toes grasp the victim with up to 400 pounds of pressure per square inch. That’s about 10 times the average human handgrip. Factor in the razor sharp talons on the end of each toe and you have a lethal combination that has spelled doom for many unsuspecting fish and rodents.
Eagles also have strong family structures and typically mate for life. Their nests, or eyries, are the largest of any bird with a diameter of up to 10 feet, a depth of nearly 20, and a weight of up to 3 tons. The female lays an average of two to three tennis-ball-sized eggs per clutch and she will incubate them for five weeks until they hatch. Once they do, both parents assist in feeding the young, which are able to fly in 10-12 weeks. After several months of trial and error, they eventually learn to hunt for themselves and leave home to establish their own families, nests, and territories.
Eagles are mentioned different times in the Bible and Isaiah 40:31 proclaims a great promise that, “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.” This image powerfully reminds us that God can enable his children to not only soar high above many of life’s problems, but that he also gives us strength to carry loads heavier than we thought possible.
Indeed, the same God who created the bird that now represents our country made us. As we celebrate America’s birthday this coming week, let us thank him for the bald eagle and let us ask him for the same strength, resolve and vision that he gave them physically to face the challenges that come our way spiritually and morally.
In Jesus, George
George Bowers Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored 11 books in addition to contributing to “Everyday Grace for Men” by Worthy Inspired. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.