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The world headlines scream with grueling details of torture and slaying of helpless innocents. The nation roils as hateful chants billow across a land erupting with violence. Local newscasts reveal cases of abuse and oppression lurk behind neighboring doors, too. Disease, poverty, and despair buzzes throughout the social media posts and text messages we receive from our loved ones. Misery’s intensifying din bloodies our ears.

Longfellow’s hymn penned during the Civil War echoes into our modern lives with eerie relevance.

“And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’”1

A hundred and fifty years after mothers watched their sons kill one another in battle, we still wring our hands at the horrors around us. The battles differ, but ravage our country with the same merciless fervor. Addiction, cancer, and depression besiege us. Homelessness and trafficking invade our communities. Our backs crumple as endless crises add burdens to our hearts. Another untimely death. Three more terminal diagnoses. Hopeless murmurs swarm. How much more can we take?

None. The weight exceeds the limits of our design. We search for respite to brace ourselves, but the efforts prove futile. Human relationships and man-made attempts at solace fail to sustain our needs. Earth cannot manufacture peace. Our only hope begins with unchaining our hearts from self-reliance. We were not designed to bear increasing burdens, but to carry them to Someone stronger. One Who exchanges them for magnificent peace surpassing any known to the earth or even comprehensible to human thought. The Lord alone grants solace powerful enough to protect and strengthen us.

He wraps us in the wind of His Spirit, insulating us against the chaos. His embrace uplifts our souls, as if suspended among the clouds and renewed with strength to soar. Our hope and breath rise full once more. Christ revives us to bear His life’s peace. His solace compels us to reach out from our solitude and share it.

The pain of the world has not ended, nor are we dull to its groaning. Christ shapes our lives and compassion into His likeness. Anxiety removed, our hearts hold more room for love. With this revitalization, God equips us to glide on His power. Not above the suffering, but into the midst of it. We carry the message of divine peace to this despairing world. For there is no peace from this dark earth, but He sends rays of divine solace into it through us.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

1 I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864, Available at http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/h/iheardtb.htm

Talons gripping the crag’s edge, the eagle gazes across miles of sheer rock face. Treetops and low clouds obscure the stream on the floor below. He attunes each feather to the wind’s whisper. When the call embraces his pinions just so, he leaps. Not a trial step or tentative wiggle of his pinky toe, but a headlong dive over the ravine. Sunlight meets a twinkle in his fearless eyes. The wind catches his wings and buoys him aloft. Proving the substance of his confidence. As it had done before.

I teeter at the edge of a windy ravine when

  • a challenge demands training and experience I don’t have
  • resources shrink
  • crises overwhelm me
  • a calling requires more time than I can spare
  • Inefficacy hobbles my dreams

Have you been there with me?

My toenails grip the precipice until its chalky edge crumbles. I cry out to the Lord, “I can’t do this!”

He knows I can’t deal with this on my own.

Of course He knows. So, I might ask, “Why did you let me get into this situation?”

I cannot discern an answer, but the wind seems to beckon me. Not into an argument, but a leap. Will I abandon my futile grip, my intent to figure it out, my delusion of control? Dive into the divine embrace and trust Him to bear me up?

The option to back away from faith looms in my shadow. Ahead, immense depth gapes with nothing to uphold me but the power of an invisible force. And the wings He crafted for me. Oh, yes, how could I forget? He and I have done this before.

When my strength and resources fell short, He showed up. Every time I asked. Every time I stepped out in faith to answer His call. That updraft always proves stronger than the gravity of my life.

I find myself pausing to ask why less often. Without glancing back, I shout into the gale, “It’s all up to You!” I squint and leap into the majestic rush. Wings spread in faith, I soar along the sun-spangled drafts I’d never witness on my own power.

Thank You, Lord, for opportunities to strengthen my faith and empowering a thrilling flight.

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

 “I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).

Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:7-8).

 

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Gravity sucks us to the earth. The weight of our flesh drags us through the grime of this world. We expend all the energy we consume in the effort to sustain ourselves. At the end of the day, we collapse with exhaustion with nothing more to look forward to than another day of survival. Breaking away from the dust attraction seems impossible. In the natural course of survival, tomorrow carries no more hope than today.

Sin imprisons the earth-bound in despair. An ever-loving God extends us a way to rise from captivity. Like all freedom, ours comes at great cost. Christ suffered torture and death to pay our way free from the spiritual forms of both. He rent His body to craft wings for our souls.

We need more than a “thing with feathers” to break the gravitational pull of sin. Christ offers us wings of divine hope, which lift us from the natural pull of our depravity. Why should we live any longer as if our only means of living is a trudging through slime dragging tons of baggage? He invests His Spirit in us to lift our souls away from earthly prisons. No longer mired in addictions, bitterness, or greed. No more snares of fear, rage, or ambivalence.   We have a great deal more to look forward to than these dusty trails, today and in the eternal future. Let us set our focus higher, on things beyond this dirt at our feet. Let’s take wing and live free.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

in the day of salvation I will help you… to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’” (Isaiah 49:8-9)

 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

From the sun’s wink at the zenith, a blue of immeasurable depth extends in all directions to the horizon. I squint at the brilliant sky, wishing it could swallow me whole. Through a gullet of downy clouds, the stuff of daydreams would carry me into the heavens. I could float, suspended just below the stars. I’d peer through breaks in the clouds to watch over those still locked onto the landscape. A unique perspective for prayers. The rare snap of autumn chills my arms, reminding me a vertical dive would prove colder than I imagine.

What if all our dreams of flight were meant to show a lost part of our inner design? Could the Lord have inscribed upon our unconscious minds that we were meant to fly? The notion remains absurd if ascribed to our mortal bodies, but I have long pondered the spiritual meaning of our penchant for soaring. After all, we were not created for an eternal attachment to things of dust.

Since our souls must rise above earthly desires and things temporal, examining the spiritual aspects of flying could provide significant insights. The need to rise beckons us toward faithfulness in our entire journey with God, not merely the post-mortem span. Christ redeemed us for more than this life, even while we are still living it.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore these magnificent benefits through which Christ provides wings to believing souls.

Freedom

Perspective

Wind-Reliance

Peace

“those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles” Isaiah 40:31

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