When I witnessed an eagle in flight, I understood why God used this bird to describe a relationship with Him. The eagle—which simply opens its wings and soars—is wholly dependent upon air currents to keep it aloft.
In contrast, we oftentimes beat our wings trying to be better Christians. We resolve to read the Bible more or to improve at keeping our temper. We strive to escape old habits and temptations. But instead of flying to the mountaintops, we remain on the valley floor with tired wings. This is because we sometimes get confused about what makes a person spiritually mature. The godly believer isn’t someone who tries and tries to do well. I’ve been a believer long enough to know that I can’t live the Christian life. This flesh of mine isn’t any better today than it was the day I was saved.
Spiritual maturity means recognizing that we do not change ourselves. The flesh is corrupt, and it cannot be suppressed by any human means. But our omnipotent Father subdues our imperfect impulses through His Spirit. For example, God’s indwelling Spirit can calm anger and wield His strength to weaken the lure of temptations. While others tire from trying to be good, the mature believer relies on the Lord and will “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).
Isaiah reminds us that even young men stumble and grow weak. Anyone trying to change himself will burn out beating his wings against the world system and his own flesh. God did not make our human bodies, minds, or spirits to fly solo. He created us to soar on His strength.