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Weekly Devotion

June 15 2020


Check One Off the Bucket List

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all
the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He
gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and
young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar
high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-

31; NLT)

In the summer of 2018, I got to fulfill a Bucket Wish. I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. The
occasion was my daughter and son-in-law moved to Tempe, Arizona in 2018 and my wife and I decided
to fly out to see them in July. Before we left, they asked if there was anywhere we wanted to go. We
told them the we wanted to see the Grand Canyon. So, on the second day of our visit we took the three-
hour drive to Williams, Arizona. I was delighted to see that not only did we have a town named after my
family, but the founder of the community had the same name as my grandfather- Bill Williams.
The next day, we took a train ride to the Grand Canyon. It was more than what I imagined it would be,
both good and bad. The sights were majestic and beautiful, but the walking was brutal, especially since I
wasn’t feeling well. Luckily, there were shuttle buses that were available to take us to the different
points where the public could see the Canyon. If I had attempted to walk all that way, I doubt I would be
here today. At one stop, there was a large lodge that had a restaurant and a souvenir shop that the
ladies wanted to check out. Fortunately, there was a large patio out back with benches to sit on.
I sat down and looked over that part of the Canyon, enjoying the view. Then in the distance, I saw a
speck, circling and I heard the whisper of God in my ear, “Watch carefully.” As I watched, the circling
speck slowly came closer, revealing itself to be an eagle. I was thrilled. Anyone who knows me realizes I
have a fascination with eagles. My father and I used to go fishing at the Sardis Reservoir and I would
always take my binoculars, hoping for a sighting of the family of eagles that lived in that area.
I had recently read that an eagle was once clocked over the Grand Canyon as traveling over 100 miles
without once flapping its wings. As I watched this eagle, I took note that it had not once flapped its
wings. It’s not like the eagle didn’t have occasion to do so, as it would circle for several minutes, slowly
descending into the Canyon. But before it would absolutely need to flap the wings, it would catch an
updraft and rise to the heights again. This happened several times in the 15 minutes I was able to watch
it.
It wasn’t like the eagle was going places in a hurry. Sometimes it would backtrack, others it would circle
for a couple of minutes, sometimes it would descend, others it would ascend. All the while, the eagle
was making slow progress straight at me. When it got close enough for me to see it clearly, it circled
again for a minute or so, and then it caught a strong breeze, shooting through the air straight over my
head. As it passed about 30 feet above me, it let out a screech that I interpreted as being a cry of
triumph, because the eagle had never once flapped his wings in that span of time. And then, it was gone.
Later, I sat down and reflected on what I had seen and how it related to the verses about eagles in Isaiah
40. This is what I learned:
First, it is possible to travel great a great distance spiritually without expending a great deal of energy.
Most of us spend a great deal of energy on life. To be honest, most of us are more like a chicken trying
to gain altitude than like an eagle soaring overhead. We are a lot of motion and activity with little
progress and growth in our lives. One reason the chicken cannot soar like an eagle is that the chicken
spends energy on gaining altitude while the eagle spends energy focusing on wind currents.

In the same manner, we can choose to focus on “doing our best for God” or we can focus on following
the Spirit of God; but we cannot do both. “Doing our best for God” can only produce what we can do but
following the Spirit of God means that we can produce what God can do through us.
This is a hard truth for achievers to accept. That is, until one day, the Lord allows something into our
lives that we cannot handle on our own. But, you say, “God will never give me more than I can handle.”
That sounds good on a postcard or a meme, however it isn’t true. When you are a follower of Jesus, you
are asked to do things that you cannot possibly do on your own. If you don’t believe me, try this one on:
love your enemies. I mean sometimes I have trouble loving my friends, much less my enemies. Instead,
you should say: “God will never give me more than He can handle.”
I think the person in the New Testament who demonstrates this contrast between “working for God”
and being led by the Spirit is Peter. Before Pentecost, Peter accomplished very little spiritually other
than providing comic relief for the disciples. After Pentecost, the man could not be stopped. He
impacted entire cities, healed and raised people from the dead, spread the gospel effectively, and
bravely endured martyrdom for his Lord. What was the difference? The Holy Spirit’s activity in and
through him.
I have contended for years that the main responsibility of the follower of Jesus is to search for and
discover what the Spirit is doing and find out how to get involved with it. If we do this, I think that when
we reach the end of our days, we will be able to shout out in victory as we soar over the finish line of our
lives.
May God grant you the ability to soar on wings like eagles today and every day the rest of your lives.
Amen.