All along I kept thinking: Why does the Bible say “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) and “your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalms 103:5)? Today I finally understood the meaning of these words …
“The lifespan of eagles is the longest among the birds in the world. They can live more than 70 years. However, in order to reach this age, when they are 40, they have to make a serious and difficult choice. At that age, their claws are no longer sharp or agile and they even can’t catch prey; due to the aging process, their beaks become curly and long, to the extent that they can almost touch the breast feather; and their feathers become heavy as a result of calcification, which makes them no longer agile and have difficulty in flying. At this time, they only have two choices: Wait to die or experience a 150-day painful metamorphosis and then spread their wings once again. If they choose the latter, they would fly to the summit of a high mountain, nest on a rock and perch there, and temporarily stop flying. After that, they would peck the rock with their aging beaks despite of bleeding until the beaks fall out. Then they would wait for the growth of a new beak. After a long period of 50 days, eagles would begin entering a new phase of metamorphosis. They would pull their aging and hard nails one by one out of their claws with the new beaks. After regenerating new nails, they would pull out the calcified feathers one by one. This is a process of repeated bleeding, a process of experiencing the taste of death. While their blood is bleeding drop by drop, their life is revived day by day. The first flight after the metamorphosis shows that the only one transformation of eagles in their lifetime comes to an end. They again soar freely and the boundless sky again becomes their paradise. The metamorphosis enables them to live another 30 years. The rebirth of the eagles gives the old saying ‘Put the troops in death ground and they will live’ a true explanation!” (“How Do Christians Experience Transformation Like Eagles” on Gospel Website of Christianity).
After reading this story, I felt shocked in my heart. Eagles are valued as the king of birds, and according to their boldness and spirit they deserve this title. But who has ever thought that what eagles experience in gaining a new life is such a bloody test, and that it is just the metamorphosis that gives them a second life. They choose to give up the beaks, pull out the nails and feathers, and shed blood, because they clearly know that only after the pain of death, can they gain a new life, and that sharp beaks and claws and strong feathers will allow them to spread their wings again. We can’t imagine what eagles have experienced in that 150 days. But it must be a process full of battles between flesh and will, a combination of danger and rebirth, and even more an experience of pursuing a new life. Only after they have fully experienced such tribulations, can they once again spread their wings and fly in the sky.
The eagles’ second life gives me an inspiration: The path we Christians walk is the path of being born again. What we experience is a process from knowing sins to confessing sins, and at last removing sins. The Lord Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The Lord’s words tell us that if our old life doesn’t die, we cannot gain a new life, much less enter into God’s kingdom. If we want to be born again and changed into new people and enter into God’s kingdom, we can’t be satisfied with standing still, keeping those outmoded rules and laws in our life, or having some outward changes and good behaviors. Instead, we must step forward and attain transformation in our sinful nature. For we, though having been redeemed by the grace of the Lord Jesus and enjoying abundant grace from Him, still live in the situation of sinning each day and confessing each night, and are still caked in grime. The Bible says: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrew 12:14). “But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). From these verses, I came to understand that God is holy and righteous, and thus He absolutely doesn’t allow filthy and corrupt people to enter into His kingdom. So, how can we get reborn as new people and achieve purification? This question had puzzled me for years until one day I read two passages of words from a gospel website. “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.” “In the past, His means of salvation was showing the utmost love and compassion, such that He gave His all to Satan in exchange for the whole of mankind. Today is nothing like the past: Today, your salvation occurs at the time of the last days, during the classification of each according to kind; the means of your salvation is not love or compassion, but chastisement and judgment in order that man may be more thoroughly saved. Thus, all that you receive is chastisement, judgment, and merciless smiting, but know that in this heartless smiting there is not the slightest punishment, know that regardless of how harsh My words are, what befalls you is but a few words that appear utterly heartless to you, and know that, regardless of how great My anger, what comes upon you are still words of teaching, and I do not mean to harm you, or to put you to death. Is this not all fact? Know that today, whether it be righteous judgment or heartless refinement and chastisement, all are for the sake of salvation. Regardless of whether today there is the classification of each according to kind, or the laying bare of the categories of man, all of God’s utterances and work are in order to save those who truly love God. Righteous judgment is in order to purify man, heartless refinement is in order to cleanse man, harsh words or chastening are all in order to purify, and for the sake of salvation. And thus, today’s method of salvation is unlike in the past. Today, righteous judgment saves you, and is a good tool for classifying you each according to kind, and ruthless chastisement brings you supreme salvation—and what have you to say in the face of this chastisement and judgment? Have you not enjoyed salvation from start to finish?” These passages tell us that if we want to get reborn and become new people, we must receive God’s judgment and experience chastisement and refinement. 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” We mankind have been corrupted by Satan for several thousand years. Our corrupt dispositions, like arrogance, selfishness, craftiness, and maliciousness, have already been implanted into our blood and bones so deeply that we would produce conceptions about God at any time or place and resist and betray Him. So if we want to be changed into new people who are after God’s heart, we must accept God’s judgment which is like knife and sword and experience various trials and refinements. Only through the hard process of getting reborn and being resurrected, like experiencing the “eighty-one difficulties,” can we cast off our satanic dispositions, become new people, and enter the kingdom of God. Proverbs 1:32 says: “the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” As true Christians, if we want to get reborn and gain life, we must possess the courage to change our current circumstances and have the determination to get reborn, and accept the work of judgment and purification done by the Lord when He returns. Only in this way can we genuinely be reborn. Of course, the transformation is painful, but it is also necessary. After we gain our new life through the transformation, we can understand the true meaning of life and enter into glory with Christ.