If someone were to ask you, “What picture from nature best describes or depicts the Christian life?” what would you think of?
After the other evening, I know what I would answer. I had stepped outdoors into an evening that sang of spring. Peepers and other frogs trilled away in the pond, birds called goodnight to one another joyously, and the wind sweeping through the pine branches was warm and refreshing. The evening felt clear, but there were dark clouds in the western sky, between which the sun was playing hopscotch.
Then I saw two great birds soaring low over the hills. Their great wings were spread out, and they were catching the wind, leaping on top of the invisible columns of rising air, swooping with the ever changing currents, and looking overall like they were having a splendid time. I thought how wonderful it would be to be one of them.
But then, I looked toward where the sun was setting. A gigantic column of cloud, dark and majestic, rose towering into the air, breaking the sun’s rays into scores of lighted columns, which reached all the way to the ground. It was hard to believe that the cloud was just a collection of water droplets; it all seemed so surreal, like the pictures of nebulae in space. It seemed like the closest thing possible to a representation of God, in all His glory and majesty. The picture hardly begins to capture it.
I gazed in awe—and then I saw something more beautiful still. One of those birds was up there, right by that cloud, right by the golden rim where the sunlight burned a white hole in my vision. No longer did it seem like a great bird able to harness the power of the wind. It was only an insignificant speck, utterly incomparable with the power that surrounded it, but fearless and free.
Doesn’t that picture one aspect of the life that God wants us Christians to have in Him? No power in ourselves, no match for the winds of life, no comparison to God Himself, and yet living a life of victory, freedom, and perfect security. The winds were so much stronger than that bird, and yet it had no reason to fear them because God has given it wings, and in fact the wind only serves to lift the bird to greater heights.
Life on this earth is hard; the days often hold monotony, sorrow, disappointment, and frustration for us. Often we don’t feel like a soaring bird, but more like a Canada goose, beating its wings endlessly, day after day, heading for a goal that seems so far away. Like the geese, we work together, one breaking wind for another until he wearies and they trade places. Life is a lot of hard work. God allows that. But He also calls us to mount up spiritually on wings like an eagle, facing the hard things in life but not wearying because He has given us wings to ride the wind. It’s the rest of being so weak that we have to rely utterly on Him. Of realizing that apart from Him we can do nothing, and trusting Him to do everything. It’s the joy of the bird who ceases to beat its wings, only spreads them out and, resting on the wind, soars up to meet the sunset.