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Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his wisdom is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

Among Native believers, this is one of the most beloved passages of scripture in the entire Bible.

Like the Gospel of Mark, this passage starts with the voice of one messenger crying in the wilderness. In this case, the voice is calling God’s people to come home.

That journey would be more difficult than we can imagine.

It had been 70 years since the people of Israel had been forced to march to Babylon. This was their trail of tears. Many died on the way. Two or three generations had been born in captivity. No one knew the way home.

Isaiah said it doesn’t matter. The Creator is calling us back to a home we have never known. This time we won’t fall along the way. When we get weary we’re going to soar on eagles’ wings, all the way to Mount Zion.

For the past 400 years Indians have also been struggling to undo the trails of tears. We know the Creator is still calling us home. Sometimes it seems impossible to carry on, but those are the very times when God sends eagles’ wings to lift us up.

This is not just pretty poetry.

Native people have countless stories of literally being lifted up on eagles’ wings. One of the best known is the story of Billy Mills, the only American who has ever won Olympic gold in the 10,000 meter race.

Mr. Mills is Oglala Sioux. After losing both parents he turned to running to heal his own soul. After training his whole life and coming close, his body began to defeat him. He developed hypo glycemia, and low blood sugar prevented him from finishing races.

In the 1964 Olympics he had run a world record pace, but two other runners were still faster than him. His vision began to fail and his limbs grew numb. He was ready to give up. Then he saw an eagle on another runner’s jersey, and he felt his father’s spirit urging him on. He knew the ancestors were counting on him, and that he would never be this close to victory again.

“At that moment I felt that my father was helping me fly,” Mills said. Dick Bank, one of the television announcers, grabbed the microphone screaming “Look at Mills! Look at Mills!”

Billy Mills crossed the finish line first in 28:24 – 46 seconds faster than he had ever run that distance.

After the race Mills went back to find the runner who had an eagle on his jersey. He wanted to thank that man for helping him to find his own eagle wings. But there was no eagle to be found on anyones’ shirt. It was a vision. “Just” a vision? Those wings gave hime the courage to say, “I can win! I can win! I can win!”

Click here to listen to Mr. Miles tell the story in his own words:

Or, if you want to hear the final seconds of the race, you can check this out. With just 20 seconds to go, Billy mills has fallen out of sight of the camera. Then Dick Bank starts to scream!

If God can give eagles’ wings to those who need them most, what power can God give you today?

O Creator, when my eyes fail and my limbs are numb, lift me up on eagles’ wings. Let me hear my Father’s words cheering me on.