A couple days ago I was walking around our neighborhood and saw a hawk land on a tree branch with a dead squirrel in his grip. I stopped to watch for a moment as the beautiful bird looked around and hopped from one branch to another with his catch.
I was a little sad for the squirrel’s loss of life, but still impressed by the hawk’s skill and beauty and majesty. And I wondered what it is about birds of prey, killers that they are, that captivates us even to the extent of making one a symbol of our nation. And I came up with a theory.
Hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey are apex predators just like killer whales and tigers. No one seeks to eat them. They occupy a position of freedom and power. Fear is unknown to them.
We humans, on the other hand, are a strange lot, an apex predator by virtue of our brains. Physically, we are not so impressive compared to other animals that could easily devour us. We are not the fastest or the strongest. We don’t have sharp claws or giant teeth. Other critters can see and hear far better than we can.
And yet we have these thumbs and these crazy brains that enable us to imagine and create and dominate. But these same brains that make us a threat to all other species by the way we can manipulate the world around us, at the same time, make us painfully aware of our precarious lot in life. So, even as we dare to dominate this world, our own self-awareness threatens our sense of security.
The hawk remains confident, powerful, and free from fear. And those traits make him very attractive to us. How we long to rise above the weight and fear and mess of this world… to fly in freedom.
How fitting then that our deepest longing is matched by our gracious God. He assures us that those who hope in Him 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.” (Isaiah 40:31) For Christ-followers, saved by grace alone, made new creations by the love of God, there is freedom from fear and sin and death.
Thus, we look at the mighty hawk with yearning and admiration, and find that our Creator, through Jesus, has even more so bestowed upon us the very traits we crave. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1) So go… fly!