Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Eagle's wings


Exodus 19: 4' You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession My Peculiar people among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

The Eagle in Isaiah 40:31 takes advantage of air currents to fly with little or no effort. The eagle does not escape the strong winds and the storms. It simply uses them to lift itself higher. When the storms of life come upon us, we can rise above them by setting our souls toward God allowing his mercy an faithfulness to lift us above them. It is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we entrust them to the what Deuteronomy 33:27 calls the everlasting arms beneath. The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms." We must wait on the Lord, until we catch the wind of the Spirit. Eagle believers are those who seek to find out where God is going, and then go with Him. They don’t sense fighting against the wind currents. They find out what God's doing and enter into it.

When the eagle is teaching its young to fly, it pushes the young chick out of the nest and lets it flab and flop for a while, but then swoops down and picks the struggling eaglet on its own strong safe wings. Deuteronomy 1:29-31 "The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did ... in the desert. He carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." We are to run to the one in distress and not to faint or forget.

Scott Hahn subtitles his book on the Covenant: The Father who never forgets his promises. He tells of an Armenian father who told his son, Armond, “No matter what happens, I’ always be there for you.” In 1989 there was an earthquake in that country that in four minutes left 30,000 dead. The father thought immediately of his son at school and running through the streets he made for the class-room where he knew his son would be. He started digging through the rubble with his bare hands, even as a bystander muttered “Forget it , the’re all dead in there.” But this man could not forget or forsake his son. So he kept on digging and scraping for 36 hours. At last from under a wallboard, he heard a groan and he called, “Armand” and a shaky voice cried: “Papa!” When the same father had dragged out 14 more still alive, Armand hailed his classmates “See I told you, my Father wouldn’t forget us.”

The word "covenant" means "come together", as found in such words as "convention" and "communion" A covenant is a solemn agreement, whereby not only goods are exchanged but there is a commitment of persons to each other. Note the two elements in marriage. It is a contract—“This gold and silver, I thee give and with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.” But more so, there is the giving of Bride and the Bridegroom to each other. “With this body, I thee worship…” That is the covenant of marriage which binds husband and wife to each other until death do them part. Your heart and mine are one! This is what the Lord is saying to us and this too is our response to his Covenant.

The contract proposed to the Jewish people is that they would be given a land to live in and Promised Land. The Covenant promise is that they would be a Chosen people. But the contract was not to inherit a mere patch of physical territory. It was to to take possession of an inner land, to discover for themselves a land of heart’s desire,--- a place of settlement.

We all have our personal land which flows with the wine and milk and honey of the spirit. We are invited to discover that inner land where we can find rest. We must not allow strange gods to take over this sacred space. We know the hurt that comes from having forces of occupation parading and prowling over one’s native land. But more importantly there is an inner land that must not be violated or trampled on. This is were the prayer of stillness and silence as exercised in this group does its saving work.

In Bible terms we speak of cutting a covenant where blood flows and where the blood of the parties are mingled and they become a family of Blood Brothers and Sisters. Blood is thicker than water! Blood brother can refer to one of two things: two males related by birth, or two or more men not related by birth who have formed a union and sworn loyalty to each other. This is usually done in a ceremony, known as a blood oath, where the blood of each man is mingled together. The process usually provides a participant with a heightened symbolic sense of attachment with another participant.

Stanley the New York Reporter in his search for the missioner, Livingstone, tells of his trek through the African jungles. Stanley was confronted by a warlike tribe and was too weak to struggle with them. He was advised to enter into a covenant with them and was told that this would mean drinking each other’s blood. While he did not relish the idea, it was explained to him that is he did so, their lives would be one and everything that the Tribal chief had would be his if he needed it. The only thing that would be asked of him was to hand over the white milk goat.

The New York reporter was in such poor health that the only thing he could stomach was goat’s milk. This would be the end of him. But he was assured that this was merely symbolic of what Stanley himself could offer and there was no intention of withholding the milk from him. In return the Chieftain handed over an ornate seven foot tall spear. The Chieftain announced to his people, “Come trade with Stanley for we are blood brothers.” It was only later that he understood the significance of that spear for as soon as others saw the Tribal chief’s weapon they would fall over themselves to heap gifts son Stanley. They knew that the two had cut a covenant and that they could work together in confidence and fidelity.

The Hebrew Tradition associates two qualities with the idea of Covenant: They are Mercy and Fidelity. The Biblical terms are Hesed and Emet. These are the two binding forces that hold the Covenant in place. The Bible treats them as if they were Personal forces, like nouns standing up on their own rather than mere descriptive adjectives.

Let us pray that in the hour of need we may experience that Hesed and emet Jahweh--the merciful and never forgetting fidelity of our God.
But if we are to enjoy the Covenant protection in our lives, we are called to become eagles ourselves-- showing our brothers and sisters them the same mercy and faithfulness and carrying them in the palms of our hands.