Gift #244: Eagles of Grace

J.R.R. Tolkien - illustration for The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien – illustration for The Hobbit (Photo credit: deflam)

Who has read or watched Lord of the Rings or Hobbit, and not had their hearts stirred by wild joy upon seeing those great eagles come flying over the horizon?  My heart invariably soars when I see them come out of nowhere to the rescue of our heroes and they save the day when hope is all but gone.  I’ve thought of making a wise saying to needlepoint on a pillow:  “When all seems lost, look for the eagles.”  My parents gave me Finding God in the Hobbit by Jim Ware for Christmas and I’ve been reading it during my quiet time with God in the evenings.  Today’s reading was about the eagles, and I was thrilled about that.  Mr. Ware views the eagles as agents of grace in MiddleEarth.  Now, grace has been much on my mind of late and I wasn’t a bit surprised to find it showing up here.  In his chapter, Ware wonders why the eagles didn’t just show up before the crisis of MiddleEarth, work their magic, and end the problems before they got started?  Why do they wait till the last possible moment to save the day?  In viewing the birds as symbols of grace, the answer to that question becomes crystal clear.  

Because grace isn’t something you can control.  Like Bilbo and Frodo, you can only look up and receive it with a sigh of relief.  You can only give thanks and shout “Hallelujah” when it swoops down to snatch you out of a hopeless impasse.  To experience grace is to be left speechless and awestruck – not wondering how you might have found a way to take advantage of it earlier on.”

This explanation really resonated with me, especially as I thought on Biblical passages that are close to my heart.  It’s not by accident that Tolkien chose eagles to be agents of grace, rescuing those without hope from the clutches of evil.  God repeatedly describes Himself as various animals in the Bible (especially in the Old Testament), but when He describes Himself as a bird, He’s always an eagle.  In fact, in my Bible reading tonight this is what I read: “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft, the Lord alone led him. He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields.” Deut. 32:11-12.  I love to think of God as an eagle…fierce, majestically strong, no match for its enemies, yet incredibly tender and gentle with its family.  What a special image God gives us of Himself by this comparison.  Like the eagles that swoop out of the night to catch away Bilbo and his friends, Frodo, and Sam; God carries us on His feathers to a good land and feeds us with sweet things.  Mr. Ware sums up his chapter with these words that seem a fitting way to end today’s post. 

No one could compel the eagles to rescue Thorin and Company from the wargs and goblins of Misty Mountains.  Here too, Tolkien seems to whisper that deliverance from certain doom and defeat is always a matter of pure, unmerited grace – the same grace that seeks us when we’d rather not be found, goes before us at every moment of our lives, prepares paths for our footsteps without our knowing it, and draws us irresistibly toward the loving heart that beats at the center of all things.”

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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