Do You Want to Soar Like Eagles or Scratch Like Chickens?


While grocery shopping over the weekend, I
spotted a thought-provoking bumper sticker on a
truck as I waited to turn in The Junction
parking lot. The bumper sticker, worn and faded
from harsh Iowa “el nino” no doubt, read “Do you
want to soar like the eagles or scratch like the
chickens?” It’s a pretty interesting question don’t
you think? Eagles roam the skies and live in
freedom. Chickens live in coops and end up…well,
on someone’s plate.
We were created to “rise up on wings like the
eagle” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB). Yet many people end
up living their entire life as chickens that
endlessly scratch out a limited existence in a
chicken coop. The following story by Anthony de Mello captures what can happen if we don’t
embrace our destiny and we lose our freedom to
be eagles.
A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest
of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the
brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks
did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He
scratched the earth for worms and insects. He
clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his
wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One
day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the
cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among
the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat
of its strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his
neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to
the earth—we’re chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s
what he thought he was.
What a tragedy. Born to soar into the heavens,
but conditioned to stay earthbound he spent his
entire life pecking at stray seeds and chasing
insects.Though destined to be among the most
awesome of all fowl, he believed his neighbor’s
counsel and never understood that he could have
joined those majestic birds in the sky.
What are chickens like? Chickens are crowd
followers. If a chicken sees a bunch of chickens
running across the chicken yard, he will take off
after them. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t
know where they are going or why they are going
there. He follows along because he doesn’t want
to miss out on anything the majority is doing.
Chickens just naturally “squabble and fight” over
things in the chicken yard. If one finds a nice juicy
bug to eat, suddenly they all want it. They will
chase each other all over the chicken yard, trying
to take it away from each other. They are funny
that way. They can walk all around a bug or a
grasshopper and not pay any attention to it, but
the moment one decides he wants it, at that
moment, they all decide they want it and the
chase is on. They are content to live in the
chicken yard, walking around with their eyes on
the ground, scratching in the dirt looking for
something to eat. Most of them will never try to
fly. They are earthbound birds.
What are eagles like? They rise far above the
ground and see life from a broad perspective.
They also know how to wait for the right moment
to soar. For thousands of years the eagle has
been respected for its grandeur. When you
observe its flight, its great wing span, and the
power of its claws, it is inspiring, to say the least.
In Proverbs 30:18-19, Solomon says, “There be
three things which are too wonderful for me, yea,
four which I know not. The way of an eagle in the
air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of
a ship in the mist of the sea; and the way of a
man with a maid.” The eagle does not travel in
flocks nor do they conduct themselves
irresponsibly. Strong of heart, they represent
qualities we admire. The eagle mates for life and
returns each year to the same nest, making
necessary repairs and additions. He takes his role
to provide for his family and protect them from
danger, and teaches the little eaglets to fly. With
all this: responsibility, liberty, beauty, stability,
and a lot more admirable traits of the eagle’s
makeup and such qualities, we agree with
Solomon’s view that it is nothing short of
wonderful. The eagle is committed to that which
he is destined to do, without concern for what is
below him.
Imagine how each bird handles a storm. They are
both birds, but they respond very differently when
faced with adverse weather conditions. The
chicken will immediately become worried. She’ll
run in circles and flap her wings. Of course, she
won’t actually fly, but she’ll flap and cluck and
run for the chicken coop and the company of all
the other scared chickens. She’ll try to get to
shelter so she can stay out of the approaching
storm. Now what about the eagle? The eagle
won’t run, and he won’t cluck and make a fuss.
The eagle will actually turn his face into the
storm, feeling the strong wind on his face. Then,
when the time is right, he’ll spread his wings,
leap off of his perch, and fly directly into the
violence of the storm. With his wings
outstretched, he’ll catch the violent updrafts
caused by the storm and be immediately swept
up above the clouds and into the bright sunshine.
He uses the pressure of the storm to glide higher
without using his own energy. The eagle is able
to do this because God has created it uniquely
with an ability to lock his wings in a fixed
position, in the midst of the fierce storm winds.
The eagle uses the adversity of the storm to
create an opportunity for itself.
Eagles, unlike chickens are raised to be risk-
takers. Eagles are raised in a manner that readies
them for any storm they have to face. In the Old
Testament, Deuteronomy 32:11 reads, “Like an
eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its
young, He spread His wings and caught them, He
carried them on His pinions.” To convince the
little eagles that the time has come to leave the
nest, the parent eagles “stir up the nest.” That is,
they rough it up with their talons, and make it
uncomfortable, so that sticks and sharp ends and
pointy spurs stick out of the nest, so that it is no
longer soft and secure, ruining their “comfort
zone.” The nest is made very inhospitable, as the
eagles tear up the “bedding,” and break up the
twigs until jagged ends of wood stick out all over
like a pin cushion. Life for the young eaglets
becomes miserable and unhappy. Then the
mother eagle pushes them off the cliff of their
nest into the air. As they shriek in fear, father
eagle flies out and picks them up on his back
before they fall, and brings them back to the cliff.
This goes on for sometime until they start
flapping their wings.
The following quote by Theodore Roosevelt
captures the difference between a person who
would soar like an eagle and the thinking of a
person in the chicken coop, “Far better it is to
dare mighty things and win glorious triumphs,
even though checkered by failure, than to rank
with those poor souls who neither enjoy much,
nor suffer much, because they live in the gray
twilight that knows neither victory nor
defeat.” People who soar like eagles are risk
takers. They are willing to “dare those mighty
things” even when it means they may fail. They
will not allow the fear of failure to rule their lives.
They cling to the grace of God and this frees
them to try new things. What if we put our whole
heart and soul into a direction and it doesn’t
work?Whenever we move forward with our dream,
that is the risk we have to be willing to take in
order to live as one who rises up on wings like an
Noah was a risk taker. He invested one hundred
and twenty years building a huge houseboat in a
place where there was no body of water and it
had never rained. I can’t imagine how devastating
it would have been for him if nothing had
happened after over a century of trusting God for
what didn’t make sense. Yet, Noah was willing to
take that risk and his inspiring story is now
etched for all time in the history of mankind.
Peter was another risk taker. He said yes to
Jesus when the Lord invited him to get out of the
boat and come toward Him. Peter’s leap of faith
didn’t fully succeed. He did look down and sink
and he needed to be rescued. Yet it is far better
that he tried, even though he sank, than be
unwilling to try because he didn’t want to face
the possibility of failure or take the chance of
looking like a fool in front of the other apostles.
The worst thing that can happen to us is not that
what we attempt doesn’t work, but if we don’t try
at all. We also can’t lose if we try and we don’t
succeed. Whatever we learn from taking that
courageous step always enriches our life and
prepares us for what lies ahead.
The motion picture Elizabeth: The Golden Age
reminded me of the eagle-like ability to turn
adversity into opportunity in any age or season;
that is the exemplification of courage to ride out
the storm. This sort of manifest courage is borne
of resilient hope, which is based in faith: the
ability to see and therefore believe what may not
be visible. When the Spanish Armada was
defeated in 1588, Queen Elizabeth I recovered
from odds too astounding to contemplate.
Outnumbered she and England faced
extermination at the hands of the Spanish.
Incredibly, history records a stupendous victory
for England.
What struck me about this movie however, was
its climax… the interaction between Elizabeth I
and her trusted and wise astrologer. With the
supremely powerful Spanish Armada bearing
down on England, the Queen is at her depths and
desperate for fresh hope, when she implores the
astrologer for a positive prophetic message. This
he cannot give, but he does say:
“But this much I know…
When the storm breaks,
Each man acts in accordance with his own
Some are dumb with terror,
Some flee,
Some hide,
And some spread their wings like eagles and soar
on the wind.”
The rest is history. The turning point in the movie
is reached and England goes onto an inspired
victory that would pave the way for extended
peace and prosperity for that land. And there is a
personal message in this for us. Those with the
resilience of hope driving a stern sense of
courage, conquer their fears as did Queen
Elizabeth I. As the winds of ignorable change
come, it’s those with courage of conviction that
can indeed soar on that wind, rising with the
updraft under their wings. They go onto a better
We, too find ourselves in the midst of a storm. We have an important choice to
make. We can either face the storm head on like
the eagle does and use this moment to our
advantage or we can run for the shelter of the
chicken coop. We were all born eagles, but unfortunately, a lot of us have been running
around like chickens in a storm. Like the Israelites
exiled to Babylon in the Old Testament Book of
Isaiah, we have seemingly forgotten who we are.
Uncertain of what the storm is going to bring, we
run about chasing after this idea or that. We
squabble over little things that we lose our focus on the bigger
picture of restoring our eagle nature. We seem content
to peck at every little reconsider theory that
comes along while losing sight of the need to
seriously vet opportunity.
Some of us have gone as far to say that we will take a neutral stand when required to make a decision.

Hiding in the chicken coop during a storm is not
going to do any of us eagles any good. We were
made to fly.

I need to find a way to move
forward, make a difference, and make my voice
heard. I need to fly into that storm and make the
most of it. We can face the storm head-on or
scratch at the ground, pecking at each other, and
following the first group of chickens that runs
past to the coop. Are you willing to end up as
someone’s chicken dinner or are you going to
soar like an eagle?

Miss Anyetta. Thank you.


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