This is a great story courtesy of my dear friend, Pastor Chris Williams at Woodleaf Baptist Church in Woodleaf, NC. (Chris refers to me as an...."Old Eagle")
The Eagle is the most majestic bird in the sky, but something happens to all Eagles at least once in their lifetime. They molt.
In the life of every Eagle, they will go through a molting process that can bring with it a great depression. This is a wilderness time that all eagles will face. Certain eagles live for about 30 years or more but then they begin to lose their feathers, Their beak and claws begin to alter as well.
The experts tell us that during this time, the eagle will walk like a turkey and they have no strength at all to fly. The molting eagle finds himself in the valley, unable to fly, with his feathers falling out. They lose their ability to see as before with their vision weakening during this time. Calcium builds up on their beaks and they can't hold their heads up. Now this is so traumatic to the proud majestic birds that Eagles truly are.
They lose their desire to eat. They only eat fresh meat and they have no strength to hunt. It is during this time another phenomenon takes place.
When the molting eagle gets in this last state, often times they will begin to peck on each other, occasionally killing another molting eagle, as they gather together in one place. Now listen to this.
At this time they will choose some area of a mountain range where the sun can shine directly on them, and they will lie on a rock and bathe in the sun. During this time some have observed other eagles coming and dropping food to the ones going through this "molting" stage. Yet its never the younger eagles that are dropping the food, it is always the older eagles that have survived this experience and know what the "molting" eagle is going through. One writer, with knowledge of these things states...
"It is a most pathetic sight to see. Four or five eagles molting in the valley, where they once would only soar over to look for fresh kill. Now, If they don't renew, they will die. "They grow weaker and weaker. Suddenly there comes a sound from the sky over the valley. Screaming loudly, another group of eagles fly overhead and drop fresh meat over the dying birds. The screaming is encouragement. That's what they reckon; the screaming is encouragement from other Eagles who have already gone through this same molting process.
Some eat and recover, but others roll over and die. Don't you think all of this speaks of something in our Christian lives as well? There is a time in the life of The Christian believer when it looks as though, and it seems as though, they've been stripped down to nothing, Lets look at some of the marks of this molting process the Eagle bird goes through..
1. It takes place in a valley
You know, there are valley experiences in our Christian lives. It’s not always on the mountain top. It's not always soaring in the heavens. Peter, James & John were privileged to join The Lord Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration
Now, after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mountain.
And what a time this was. What an experience! But they didn't stay up there. They had to come down and they were brought into a valley. That is a reflection of our state as well sometimes in life.
There will be times when we feel we are in a valley / a wilderness maybe… but I love to read Genesis 26:19 because it talks about Isaac being brought into a valley. We are told that he had to dig there and when he dug, he found a well of fresh running water.
When the Eagle is like this…
2. They lose their desire to eat
They should be eating. They need to be eating now more than ever before, but they lose all desire for food. Isn't the same true of us sometimes as well? In the state we find ourselves in, we lose even the desire for the food of God's word. You know this is true.
Then there is another thing.
3. Their vision goes
That sublime vision that we talked about a few weeks ago that is so awesome, so inspiring, the Eagle could spot a rabbit miles away… It has vision like no other bird, but while it is in this state of molting we are told that vision is lost. You know if you lose your vision in God, you've lost everything.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
When I came into the Christian ministry, there was a song that my friend Keith Barry sung called, "Broken Hearted Warriors.” The lyrics go on to say, “ On the battle field of lives, lose yourselves Jesus." And there is a line in it that says…
"Don't let them cloud your vision…"
That has always meant so much to me, right up to this day.
A. Hurts can cloud your vision
B. People can do the same
C. Church life can with it’s bickering and squabbling
Then something else happens to the Eagle at the time of molting..
4. Calcium builds up on it’s beak, and they find themselves looking downward.
This is self explanatory. Brothers and sisters, I've got a little advice for you.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace…
But then they tell us…
5. The Eagle begins to help himself out of this state of trial and depression.
They scratch at their own claws until they are down to nothing and soon grow new ones.They will knock beaks until the calcium that has been weighing them down falls off. Brothers and Sisters, the truth is this.
Some will not be content to sit and die, they will do something to help themselves. I said something a few weeks ago that I still believe to be true. “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”
This is not scripture. It is simply good common sense. If we make the effort, God will respond to that effort in the fullness of His glory. Sitting around moping is not the thing to do. The greatest thing of all the Eagle does to benefit himself while in this state of molting is to choose a spot were the sun can shine directly on him. The experts tell us they will find a rock and they will lay on it. They will do so as they bathe in the presence of the sun. They will let the sun beam down on them. Listen to me, they will wait there, and it is here that they begin to be renewed. Listen to the word of God again..
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.