Since the beginning of the year I've been mixing it up a bit, going to some services at my regular church, and to others at a nearby church. I confess it's been reviving for me to attend a church where I don't really know anyone. I love just going in, getting lost in the worship, hearing the Word and leaving. Maybe it's just the stage I'm in right now.
The membership at my church is predominantly Nigerian and at this other church, it's mainly people from various Caribbean islands. The style of worship, and to some degree, the preaching, remind me of some African American churches. It's vibrant, powerful and very colourful. I also leave extremely encouraged, and Father knows I need the encouragement, as I'm sure do so many others in these trying times.
Last Saturday I got home late from a family outing and was quite tired. I toyed with the idea of staying in all day Sunday, but when I woke up on Sunday morning I knew I couldn’t miss service. I’ve noticed that whenever I don’t feel like going to church but do go, I end up not just really enjoying the service but getting blessed. This time was no exception. As I was getting ready, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and at the service, the pastor confirmed that word. I love when that happens!
Something else that really stuck with me is what I learned about the eagle. Please be patient with me if what I’m about to share is old news to you, it just gets me so excited every time I think of it.
The sermon was titled “He heard my cry” based on the first two verses of Psalm 40. There are times when we go through difficult circumstances, be it in our relationships, finances, health or careers. Life can be tough and let’s face it – sometimes it just sucks. And you pray and hope, but every now and then things don’t change quickly enough, in fact there are times when things don’t change at all and through the process of time you learn to live with it until you’re changed and it becomes part of your new normal. BUT GOD. Ah! Thank God for the hope we have. Sometimes you can’t see beyond one step in front of you, but by faith you take that step and then the next one becomes clearer until you get to where you’re supposed to be, many times wondering how you got there. BUT GOD.
Okay, back to the eagle. Another scripture we looked at on Sunday was Isaiah 40:28-31
28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on 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.
There is a richness and maturity that comes to our lives through the process of waiting on God, a richness and maturity that we don’t get from anything else. There is something that happens that, for want of a better phrase, brings life out of death.
In verse 31 of Isaiah 40, there is a promise that those who wait on the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles. During the service the pastor described what happens during an eagle’s molting stage.
When an eagle reaches a certain age (some say old age, some say 30 years), it goes through a terrifying process called molting. Due to age and use, its beak and talons become increasingly coated with calcium causing them to become less sharp, and even dull. In addition, its feathers also become heavy with dirt. This of course means that the eagle is not as adept at hunting as it once was, and invariably not able to fend for itself as skilfully as before. This is not helped by the fact that its vision is not as keen as it once was.
At this stage the eagle finds a rock on which to molt. It scraps or even smashes its beak and talons against the rocks until they break off and become no more that nubs. It also plucks out its own feathers! Understandably the eagle is now weak, vulnerable and defenceless. Apparently some eagles give up and die at this stage because they can’t feed or defend themselves. Doesn’t that sound like a wilderness experience? Have you ever felt helpless and powerless? Even ashamed that you don’t look the way you used to, or you can’t do the things that you once found easy or took pleasure in? Sometimes you even feel like no one understands what you’re going through or that others even exacerbate the problem?
The beauty of the eagle is that if it survives the molting process its beak, talons and feathers grow back stronger and more lustrous that before. They regain their energy and vigor and even their eyesight becomes sharper. You could call it a better and wiser youthfulness.
I’m learning that being in the valley is not the end and neither is it unusual. It’s a process of growth. Nothing happens to God’s people without His permission. God is not cruel, He doesn’t dangle carrots. He knows where we are and He is with us in everything we face. He knows that we can take more than we think as He works out His purposes in our lives. I pray that in my wilderness I will wait well, remembering all the times God has delivered me in the past. Sometimes I may need to cry, so I’ll go ahead and cry. I’m not alone.
Ufuoma Daniella Ojo is a Technical Author and Software Trainer. She lives in London. She is working on some new stories about relationships and is trusting God for connections leading to publication.