While visiting my son Geoff in Nanwalek where he taught school, we walked up a trail alongside a river. He wanted us to see where he live trapped a mink to show his class. After hiking about a mile we started back down the trail. Then we saw the eagle perched on a stump by the trail. Wondering how close we could get before it flew off we slowly walked towards it. Instead of taking flight with its huge wings, it hopped off the stump and clumsily ran through the brush, dragging one wing.
Now what? Do we just let it be or do something to help?
We followed it back to the river where it got tangled in the alders that had fallen in the river. When it struggled to get out from the branches, its head went under the water in the swift current.
My son Mike quickly jumped in the river to help, but how to get the eagle without getting bit or clawed? From the safety of the riverbank, we shouted suggestions to him while he stood knee deep in the cold rushing river. I took off my windbreaker and tossed it to him to put over the eagle’s head. He then scooped up the huge bird and held it upright against his chest by its legs.
The hike back to the village was interrupted often by the struggles of the eagle to get free. Its legs kicked and its head and sharp beak swiveled under the coat. Its strength was amazing, even with a broken wing.
We put it in Geoff’s classroom in a large box for the night. We contacted Homer Air for a flight and the Kenai Wildlife Refuge. After driving back to Soldotna, we turned it over to the park ranger.
The eagle was shipped to the Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. The wing was too badly damaged and had to be removed. They named it “Chatty” for all the noise it made. Fortunately, it survived the injury in the wild and the ordeal of having its wing amputated.
In the Bible, the Lord reminded the Israelites of their deliverance from Egypt. He likened their rescue to a flight on eagles’ wings and said, “I brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4).
When we become weary the Lord invites us to wait on him to renew our strength. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
While the wings of eagles in these passages are figurative, the rescue and help from the Lord are real.
So it is with the promise of Luke 4:18. Jesus will perform a rescue because he said he preached good news for the poor, healing the brokenhearted, deliverance for the captives, recovering of sight for the blind, and liberty for the bruised. While these human dilemmas may or may not be literal, they certainly occur spiritually as well as emotionally and mentally.
Thankfully, we can know what it is to be rescued by the Lord’s love, and hold that hope out for others. He still does miraculous works of deliverance and rescue.