Amazing Sustained Flight - The Warrior's Journey®

Amazing Sustained Flight

Author: David Causey, USA (Ret.)

F-35 Integrated Test Force. Photo by US Air Force is licensed under CC By 2.0

A recent study has confirmed what scientists have suspected for decades.

Some species of swifts remain in the air, without touching the ground, for months at a time. Research teams from Lund University in Sweden, tracked specimens of swifts from two different species. One was the common swift (Apus apus) and the other was the pallid swift (Apus pallidus).

The researchers discovered that the pallid swift remains airborne—both eating and sleeping—for up to three and a half months at a time. In fact, the only time it touches ground is during the two times it breeds each year. The pallid raises chicks twice in Italy before migrating south to western Africa for the winter.

The common swift, however, stays airborne for ten consecutive months. Its perpetual flying is only punctuated by a period of breeding, just once each year. Thus, it appears that if a common swift didn’t breed, it would remain in the air indefinitely.

Each of the studied birds was tagged with a tracking device. This device sent activity data to the researchers every five minutes, around the clock.

How is it possible for swifts to remain in the air for such extended periods of time? Clearly they are designed for flight. The researchers learned that swifts expend no more energy flying non-stop than do species of other birds whose lives center around a nest. Swifts fly to high altitudes and then ride along thermals and air currents. They consume flying insects and take short naps—all with wings extended, allowing the wind to do the work of keeping them in the air.

In a way the common swift pictures the life of a Christian believer. Christ does not call us to live a difficult life, but an impossible one. Jesus commands us to live above the world, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to pray for those who abuse us (Matt. 5:38–48). He tells us to deny all worldly desires and to set our affections on things above, where He dwells (Col. 3:1–5). He orders us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48). How can we possibly rise to such a challenge?

Obviously, we cannot keep Christ’s commandments in our own strength. We need His transforming and sustaining power. Unlike the Old Testament law which gave us commands, but gave us no power to obey, Jesus does something different. When we embrace Christ by faith, his blood cleanses us from every sin (Acts 15:8–9; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5). But Jesus does far more. He sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts who inwardly transforms us and then motivates and empowers us to do His will (Ezekiel 36:26-27; Galatians 5:16; 6:15; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:27-29).

In a real sense, we extend our faith to God and allow Him to do the work of keeping us airborne. The power of God’s Holy Spirit keeps us aloft and, day by day, transforms us into the image of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:17–18; 4:16–17). As the prophet Isaiah foretold, when we “wait upon the LORD,” i.e. look expectantly to Him in faith, we “will renew our strength” and “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).

Do not look to yourself and your own power to face today’s challenges. Grab hold of God and let Him lift you up.


Dear Father in heaven, I cannot fulfill Your Law’s demands or rise to Your glorious standard by my own power. I confess my weakness to You. Please come and fill my being with Your divine presence. Empower me by Your Holy Spirit and make me equal to the task with which You have honored me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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In article photo: Faciot #1 by pau.artigas licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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