I began 2015 with this vision. While riding my bike on the edge of Orange County, I saw this eagle. It is neither easy to sneak up on an eagle while on a bicycle nor capture a picture of the sky king.
Closer to the city, I found other birds much more complicit in my picture taking. Almost posing, they allowed me to take several.
The contrast in images and in birds was clear asking me, “In 2015 will you soar like an eagle reaching high for all God has to offer or be content like a crane, only flying stretching your wings when absolutely necessary?”
I remembered the promise of Isaiah 40,
Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for 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.
I vowed to take the eagle as my example and sang out the words of Steve Miller, dooo dooo dooo dooo, I want to fly like an eagle.
A similar contrast and challenge is in the story of the Magi coming up for Epiphany Sunday presented clearly in the difference between the approach to life and God by Herod and the citizens of the city of Jerusalem and the Magi in Matthew 2,
2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Herod and Jerusalem lived in a culture known for their traditions, titles, and luxuries, valuing stability and security over stars and adventure. For them the poverty of some was a prerequisite for the palaces of others. In contrast, for the magi, the world was their home, their life was in the skies where stars shined, God spoke, and Messiahs could be found anywhere. They were not known by their titles but their gifts. They were not characterized by their comforts but their visions and their journeys. Treasures were for sharing, not protecting. They were like eagles, not cranes stuck to the ground, but flying to the skies of God’s heavens.
Two clear images. Which will you choose? Who will be your role model in 2015?