Growing up, family devotions were a priority in our home. They were usually right after supper, followed by piano practice, homework, gabbing on the phone and a little r&r. Most of the time they were a struggle as trying to coordinate 5 schedules got harder and harder the older my sisters and I got. But my dad ruled with an iron fist and come hell or high water, we were having them.
Devo’s usually consisted of us talking about our days, reading a passage of scripture, talking about that passage and praying together. As a 5 year old I was too wiggly to pay much attention and too distracted to really get it. As a 10 year old I had more fun sneakily pinching my sisters and getting them into trouble than I did understanding the substance of what my dad was trying to teach us. By 12 I was an eager beaver wanting to be the one that read the passage and be the one that prayed. Then 16 hit and I lived in my own world called ‘Attitude City’ and begrudgingly participated with my faithful buddy chip (who sat perfectly perched all high and mighty on my right shoulder). Now, as an adult who looks back in hindsight, I’m a sentimental schmuck. Those were important times that I wish I could have appreciated a little more and I give props to my ol’ man for stickin’ with it.
Enter Isaiah 40:29-31:
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but 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.
Del was a firm believer that scripture memorization was and is a vital part of your devotional life. When asked why, he gave the same response every time: “Cause one day a hard time is going to hit and you’re going to need encouraging words to fall back on.” So the eagle verse (as my sisters and I liked to call it) became the Keating’s mission statement (so to speak).
Fast forward to 2007 when a hard time hit, and wouldn’t you know it – the eagle landed.
I was totally discouraged with where I was at in my life. I was mad at God. I was mad at myself and I was mad at the world. So I’m not joking when I say that out of thin air this positive sentence floated through my thoughts: Poof! “…but those who hope in the Lord with renew their strength…”
I decided to dig a little deeper and here’s what I discovered about eagles…
*Eagles are known as powerful creatures. In fact, they are creatures of SUCH magnitude, that they soar high above all other birds in the kingdom. With a wingspan ranging from 72-90 inches, the bald eagle holds 7000 feathers. They weigh 14 pounds and can reach 37 inches in length, and with eyesight that is 4 times stronger than that of 20/20 vision; the bald eagle sits at the top of the food chain. And yet, they, like us humans, go through a painful transformation phase where they become very weak and defenceless. It’s during this phase that they retire to a hiding place out of reach from predators so they can pluck out their talons to make room for new ones to grow, they pluck out their feathers and wait for new feathers to replace the old and they break off their beak so a stronger one can take its place. They wait defensively and patiently for 150 days until everything grows back. And when that 5-month painful transformation is completed, the eagle reclaims its place soaring above, with his head held high, stronger than it was before. * Wow. Who knew?
Here’s what I discovered about myself…
With my feathers gone (insert labels/titles/success’s/responsibilities), I was left naked, exposed and vulnerable. With no talons left to give me traction (insert job/leadership/vision/drive), I was like a 5 year old stepping out onto ice for the first time. And without a beak (insert strength/insight/confidence/passion), I had nothing left to say. Yet, it was in that weakened state that I found the real me. That sounds cliché I know, but it’s the truth. I fight to keep that Cindy the prominent one even today.
What I’m trying to say is this: Del was right! The hard time hit, the eagle landed and the encouragement came.
Have you memorized any scriptures lately?