I saw this hawk flare before landing on my neighbor’s pine. 

The evening sun lit up its white pale breast with golden light.  After I went inside to get my camera, hoping it would be there when I returned, I raised the lens and it turned to stare at me. -- wondering but not worrying about my intentions.

This hawk brings back to the wonderful closing verses of Isaiah 40.  It’s as close as I am going to get in my house-bound life to an eagle.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

The word for hope here can mean looking forward with certainty, patiently waiting or trustfully resting.  It’s a much richer word that our vague and wistful hope.  Biblical hope is relational.  Our certainty comes from the reliability of God’s unchanging, always dependable character.

And that relationship is the source of renewal.  The sense here is of a constant strengthening, no matter how draining the external situations are.

On my walks lately, I’ve been noticing the street more.  As I passed this patch, I thought, “Yeah, I know how you feel, buddy.”  The comically dismayed face reflects my mood of late.   My wife and I are beset with tricky situations that seem beyond our ability to understand, let alone control.

In addition, it has become hard for me to generate new observations for this column.  This complex jumble of restrictions and responsibilities has made writing 8:18 a constant puzzle to solve, rather than a joyful sharing of where I am finding God in the world around me.

So, I’m going to take a break.  I thought doing this on my birthday would be a fitting turn.  For a while, I’ll run some past entries.  I have over 240 of them to choose from.

The fact is, I need renewal.  I need to be recharged by my relationship with Jesus.

An eagle (or red tailed hawk) is a perfect symbol for renewal because it causes us to turn our gaze. I may find the word on the street, but the answer is not in looking down, but looking up.  As Paul says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.” (Col. 3:1)  I need time to look up.

Thanks for coming along so far on this journey.

Hopefully we’ll have more of it to walk together.

Father, renew me.  Renew us.  You are our only source of life.  In this time of great confusion and weariness, we take refuge in you.  And our hope is strong because it is focused on you.

Reader: Thoughts?  Comments?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.