I’ve never been a great fan of winter. Sure, as a kid I had fun sledding, building an occasional snowman or two, and battling a bit in snowball wars. But I’ve always preferred the warmer days of spring, summer, and fall. Part of the reason for my distaste for the cold weather is surely due to not having the proper attire to keep warm. In recent months, I’ve tried to rectify that a bit. I love the outdoors, and it began bugging me that I spend too much time indoors during the winter months. So, I got a few key essentials to stave off the frostbite on some of our bitterly cold January days. And am I glad I did!

Our family lives less than half a mile from the Rock River—flows from the north and eventually empties into the Mississippi. With the sub-zero temperatures, the river has frozen over in most places, the most notable exceptions are near the dams. Those small oasis of still-running water, then, become feeding ground for a wide variety of birds looking for the fresh catch of the day.

On one of those mornings when the temperature hovered around 0, I drove Chris to work, taking a road that hugs the river and was stunned to see nearly a dozen bald eagles, some soaring high above the “oasis,” some swooping down near the surface of the water, a few perched in trees along the river bank. After dropping Chris off at her office, I retraced my route, stopping by the side of the road for a few quick shots. The next morning, I dressed for the occasion, took my good camera, and spent a leisurely thirty minutes snapping photos of these majestic creatures. The cold didn’t bother me at all…in fact, it was invigorating!

But the eagles! They were inspiring! I knew there were references to eagles in the Bible, so I did a quick search to see what I could discover. Some references bring hope and encouragement, such as the well-known Isaiah 40:31 – “but they 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.” Others are designed to be more of a warning. For example, in Jeremiah 49:16, the Lord warns against pride alluding to the seeming “arrogance” of the eagle perched on high: “‘The horror you inspire has deceived you, and the pride of your heart, you who live in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill. Though you make your nest as high as the eagle’s, I will bring you down from there,’ declares the Lord.” Yet another passage serves as a warning to those who claim to be God’s people, but in reality are far from Him. God declares in Hosea 8:1, “Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.”

Those are just three of more than thirty “eagle” references in the Old and New Testaments (all but four, by the way, are in the Old), but they serve to highlight the stamina, strength, and swiftness of these awesome creatures. Next time you see one, let it serve as a stimulus to meditate on God’s Word, to think on how the eagle illustrates timeless truths.