The albatross is an amazing bird. With a wingspan of 3 metres (9.6 feet), they are amongst the largest birds that soar the Heavens.
And soar they do. You see, with wings that big, they can’t actually “fly”. They rely on gusts of air to keep them off the ground, but once airborne, they can swoop along at speeds of 115 kph (70 mph). Because of this, the next time you decide to visit an albatross sanctuary, make sure you go on a windy day. Though it’s pure ecstasy for albatross in the air, they are actually quite clumsy on the ground!
With such a wide wingspan, you would expect the albatross to be absolutely huge. And don’t get me wrong, they do have large bodies. But in order for their wings to be able to lay along their backs, like those of most birds, they would need bodies at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) long, which would make them so heavy, they would have trouble staying airborne! So in order to help them manage their extensive wingspan, yet still have manageable-sized bodies, God created them with a unique feature: When on the ground, the outer half of the albatross’ wing actually folds up under the inner half! Amazing! But as a result, when sitting on the ground, the albatross looks like nothing more impressive than a large gull.
Unfortunately, there are few in this world who can just “pop over and visit” an albatross sanctuary. The albatross is an endangered bird. Of the 21 species of albatross known, only two are not threatened with extinction. Your best bet for viewing these magnificent birds are the in the southern oceans between Antarctica and the southern parts of South America, Africa, and Australasia. Interestingly, these are areas of consistent wind, but remember: Without wind, the albatross cannot fly!
It was a windy day when we visited the Royal Albatross Centre in Dunedin, New Zealand, and I was delighted to see the numerous birds floating around overhead. They weren’t all albatross, however. As I would learn, the vast majority of the flying birds were ordinary gulls. I guess I had figured it would be easy to see the difference in the birds when they were in the air, after all, what gull has a wingspan of 3 metres? But in all honesty, when you’re just looking up at those little dots in the sky, it’s pretty hard to judge wingspan!
Unless you were fortunate enough to see a gull and an albatross flying together, that is! Then the difference becomes obviously apparent!
As a Christian, it’s sometimes hard to see any advantage in our lives over that of our non-Christian friends and co-workers. In fact, it may often seem like the lives of our non-Christian contacts are less restrictive and more fun than our own. In church we hear about “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:18c). We read about the “incomparably great power for us who believe” (Eph. 1:19a). We see other Christians who obviously know “the hope to which He has called [them]” (Eph 1:18b), but in all honesty, we don’t see these fruit in our own lives!
Could it be that we are like the albatross on a non-windy day, grounded by our human natures? Could it be that we are not filled with God’s Spirit, that Heavenly “Wind”?
Remember, albatross are clumsy on the ground, but once they are caught up by a gust of wind, they unfold their wings and soar into the Heavens! The same is true for us! Once we experience the winds of God’s Spirit, once we submit to that breeze of His presence, our spiritual wings will unfold and we will soar.
Let’s pray for one another, that we will be filled with God’s Spirit, that we will be able to experience the fullness of the life He has for us! “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength …” (Eph 1:18-21 NIV).
The sky is the limit, friends!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.