revjoaquinwillisweb.gifMy friend, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, whose sermon, “The Audacity of Hope,” inspired – in my opinion – a national political movement, tells a great story about an eagle.

The eagle grew up in a chicken coop and, thinking it was a chicken, would fly no higher than its coop mates.  One day, a stranger saw the eagle for what it was, took it to a mountain, and threw it up into the air.  Out of desperation and fear, the eagle began to flap its powerful wings, discovering it was no chicken.  Soaring above the coop, and seeing the chickens on the ground, the eagle gained new perspective.  

This year, God calls upon us to take a new look at our lives.  Through the wisdom of Isaiah (40:31), God provisions us.  “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 intransitive verb “soar” means to rise or to ascend to a more exalted level. God calls us to spiritually raise the bar we have set for our life; He challenges our spirits to rise to majestic stature.

The King James Version of the Bible uses “mount up,” and the New International Version uses “soar.”  How do we mount-up? By waiting and trusting in the Lord to reinvigorate our hopes, dreams and visions. When we show our trust in Christ, we mount up on the wings of eagles.

Another avian story related by my friend and pastor, the Rev. Dr. P.M. Smith of Baltimore, Maryland, is about a young eagle with a fear of flight.  The eagle had become too comfortable in the nest built by its parents.  Eagles build nests of thorn branches tightly knit together with overlays of soft leaves and moss. 

As the baby eagle grows larger and wiggles in the nest, the moss and soft leaves dry out and scatter. The remaining thorny branches become uncomfortable, forcing the young eagle out. 

Like eagles, God has prepared us to “Soar to New Heights” in 2009. It is up to us to leave our comfortable nests, and to mount up upon the wings of eagles.  With a new president in the White House, and a new year on the horizon, we must remain accountable to each other as we “run and not get weary, and walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

If we work together as a community of believers, we can perfect our individual and corporate performances.   Our greatest need now is to believe God, who has raised the bar for us.   God calls upon us to soar to new heights, trusting in Him.

Our challenge in this New Year is to, “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts, lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways to acknowledge Him and (to trust that) He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at