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Walking in the Spirit: Soaring Above

Walking in the Spirit

Soaring Above

Paul J. Bucknell


Walking in the Spirit: Soaring Above uses the analogy of birds and air to help us understand Spirit-filled living.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

The Christian is often confused regarding his spiritual walk because he is not used to the concept of walking in the Spirit. The problem stems from a mixture of problems: the world, temptation, the flesh and sin. I would like to speak of another problem, though, that was brought to my attention through a couple of birds flying through the wintry sky.

Those rather big birds were going back and forth over the deep valley, tucked between two large-sized hills. They would at times vigorously flap their wings; at other times they would glide in all different directions.

We can't identify with them too much because we walk, run or jump. We just don't fly unless it is on the airlines.

What can we learn from the birds about living in the Spirit?

1) Made for the Sky

Birds are conscious of the air’s presence. They are dependent upon it for movement. In times past, people believed air was a nonentity. Isn’t this much like secularism which claims there is no Spirit of God? We now know air is something that is real even, even though one cannot see or hold it in one’s hand.

Christians need to be much more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. They must not think He is there or here just during certain times. He is always everywhere. He is real and our lives are dependent upon Him for all our physical and spiritual movements.

Spirit Living is like the birds in the air.Yes, we realize that birds can walk. They have feet like we. But they are chiefly made to fly through the air. Just like Christ’s followers, they can walk and eat, but we are specially designed to ‘walk in the Spirit.’

Many times Christians are totally unaware of the Holy Spirit's presence and depend on their fleshy feet. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that our real struggle is not in what we see but in what we do not see.

"And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints," (Ephesians 6:17,18).

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12).

Our real life starts when we begin living in the Spirit. Just as we would despise a bird that only walked, so we must scoff at the Christian who walks by the old world's order. God has released him for a greater life, a much more glorious life where one soars rather than merely walks.

Illustration of Walking in God’s Presence

If I am consistent about this teaching of the sovereignty and omnipresence of God, then I need to put it into practice. I still need discernment and judgment, but opening my eyes to His shaping of circumstances allows me to see things differently.

Our car has been in the shop for two weeks. It was suppose to be there for only two days. I could have made trouble for the repair shop. I sensed God wanted me to be patient for He was in charge. I suppose this only made sense because my car couldn't easily be moved due a drastic oil leak. I was content, though. I spoke several times very patiently to Kathy at the desk and Dave the manager.

We didn't know if we were going to have to junk the car because it was too expensive to fix or that this was the time to trade our car in for a newer one. We have been praying for a good year on this matter. In my soul, I wondered if somehow this would lead to a new (used) car. For the first time in a long time, we did have a little cash.

As we went to pick up the car, my wife noticed a van for sale right in front of the shop. He doesn't usually sell cars. We asked about it. It was just the kind we had been looking for. I mentioned whether he was interested in a trade. He said, “He wasn't thinking about it.” I asked again at the end and asked him if he was interested in some kind of deal. He said it had a very good motor. He would get back with me.

I sensed this deal would somehow work out. We needed to keep praying. I already did a little comparison to see how much I could get for my car. The Lord is able to provide for us if we notice that the world is His workshop. The Lord is my Provider.


2) Learning to navigate

Although I am not a bird, I have watched many a bird flying. How would one describe this act?

We are not speaking about the technique of flying. We will touch upon that topic in a moment. We are speaking of the way they get around. They lift their wings and lower their heads. They move their tail and change the contour of their bodies, all very unconscious.

The Christian must also learn to navigate. We rarely see a bird go straight from one point across to another. They swoop down or curve around objects. When responsive to the wind, the bird pays close details to its presence. Eagles find warm up-going currents so that they might receive an extra lift.

The Christian likewise must learn to walk along with the Spirit. Many a time a Christian knows what God wants, but the way to get there seems a big detour! They must learn how the Spirit leads. The Spirit might seem against him but is always for him. This confidence always helps the believer persevere along with a heart of joy.

When conscious of the Spirit all about us, we can pray without ceasing. God wants us always to pray. He wants us always to give thanks. He desires that we would always walk in the Spirit bearing forth the fruit of the Spirit.

Only by soaring above will we be able to bear forth these fruits. Many prayers are like a rocket. We send them up toward God. Why are we in such a hurry? Can we not take thirty minutes, an hour or even two hours to spent time with God flying high above and there made our requests known to God?

I'm afraid many are afraid to stay above in the Spirit and learn the ins and outs of turning, rising, descending, finding the heat sources, etc. We are much more comfortable in our board meetings with human wisdom.

We should know better. It is in prayer that we see the great acts of the apostles done (Act 1-2). Jesus spent all night in prayer before facing many days. We need to stop thinking that walking in the Spirit describes a momentary experience rather than a perpetual Spirit dependence.


Yesterday, I sensed rather strongly that I should look at a rebate that I should send in. I was too busy. I was busy today, too, and didn't want to be bothered but started to fill out the first and then started on the second form.

Then I noticed that there was a twenty day period to fill it in. I just made the deadline. I sensed this prodding was from the Holy Spirit. He didn't wait until the last day but started prompting me a bit earlier. I could have overrun this deeper sense, like I did the day before, but figured it might be from God.


3) The Technique of Flying

Birds both flap and glide. They at times expend lots of energy but also know how to effortlessly coast along above the shores of the earth. Christians need to know how to do both.

Birds are at times hard workers. They must struggle hard against contrary spirits. These unseen spiritual forces are both unseen and yet real. We don’t see why they have to flap so hard but from experience know some strong wind is countering their movements.

This effort to reach where they want known as flight is like prayer. We know God wants something greater. We pray and seek Him until we obtain it. The birds need to fly hard against certain wind currents. This is natural and should be expected. Our greatest strength will be seen in the way we mount up against these contrary winds. God uses these times to test and strengthen us and bring us to a higher level of blessing.

The birds don’t give up. They might have to retreat a bit but only in search for a way through. They seem purposed. They are willing to go nowhere, so it seems to the observer down below, and yet they reach their distant destination. The Christian is sensitive to his God, and when given a burden, directs his life and prayers in that direction, though felling many contrary tensions.

Christians also need to know how to glide. The scriptural term for this is ‘waiting upon God.’ We have done what we have done. Now we wait. Sometimes it is to sit back and see how God will answer our prayers. The waiting is the abiding in the Spirit, knowing full well that He will be doing something. We can trust Him for our needs during this time and find special refreshment close to Him.

While flapping all our resources are engaged, but here in the quiet and yet powerful glide, we rest on past effort. At these times we can gain a much greater perspective of the Lord and His purposes. We can pay more attention, being still, and glory and be enriched through observing God’s marvelous works around us.


We have great difficulty in slowing down to pray and meditate on God’s Holy Word. When we do, however, we find how special these times can be when He meets us.

I don’t always have ‘great’ times, but I usually have good times each morning and afternoon. This morning, I got up early as usual so I could quietly meet the Lord. Even still, one of my sons got up because he was ill. I comforted him and then put him down. I was reading through the Gospel of Matthew. As I read this certain passage, my heart began to be overwhelmed with awe. I sensed the Lord was so near.

"And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light" (Matthew 17:2).

I couldn't help but think the Lord was very close to me. He wanted me to know more of His glory. I was really humbled in spirit at His great love and glory. Who am I? But I wanted to know Him more and more. I wanted to be there on that mountain. I want to be with Him forever and ever. This experience has shaped all my thinking today. I sing. I pray. I counsel.

Times like these with the Lord, along with all the more normal times, begin with being sensitive to what the Lord wants in my life. I was first willing to rudely awake myself from sleep so that I could glide. (Did you ever notice that the birds are out there very early singing away?)

He strengthens me and meets me so that I can patiently live out my day. This is the Lord’s grace. Maybe it was a bit special, but then He is the One who has directed me to write this down and wanted me to have something to share from my experience today about living a Spirit-filled life.


  • What parts of your life right now are more engaging (taking up time)?

  • Which parts of your life are more like waiting?

  • Do you have a tendency to give up on waiting and just do it yourself?

  • What particular areas in your life does the Lord want you to grow in? These are probably the same that He wants to work more deeply in.

4) The Purpose of Flying

Flying has a lot of advantages. One can streak across the great sky at wonderful speeds. Crossing difficult terrain is almost effortless. While in flight they gain that high vantage point from which they can spot a little fish far awy in that little stream.

By praying in the Spirit, we also are able to accomplish what man could not do. Remember, it is not us. It is us in the Spirit. The bird doesn’t travel by itself. He travels in the Spirit. The wind is his means of travel. We cannot isolate the bird from the air or wind just like we cannot separate the Christian from the Spirit of God.

God has things to accomplish through His people that only can be done when they ‘travel’ by the Holy Spirit. Anything good or admirable from a Christian’s life comes from the time enveloped in the Spirit. The Christian can love only because he has been close to God or Heaven as Matthew calls God. God is our heavenly Father. Man can draw close to God but only as he soars high in the skies.

People tend to confuse spiritual gifts. They think they are just earthly talents. They don’t realize that the impartation of these gifts only really function when soaring and dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

A person with the gift of giving will only be able to give in faith when depending on the Spirit. The teacher, filled with the Spirit of God, is not only in the classroom preaching God’s Word but also soaring high above in God’s presence. The Spirit-filled student of God’s Word is not confined to some desk but is liberated to the heights above the earth, gleaming wonderful truths from God’s Word.


As a writer, I feel very inspired at times. By this I mean an idea jumps into my mind. I take no credit for it. In this article, I had lots of things to do. But as I sat at my desk chair and saw the birds flying through the air, the idea for this article filled my mind.

The more I thought, the more this analogy became alive in its ability to teach me. As I wrote, step by step each section came to my mind. I sensed this was the Lord helping me in the work He had right now called me to do. I have ignored Him before because of the busyness of obligations, but I always find that if I do not do it right away, the chance or inspiration passes.

Sometimes during prayer I take notes down. That works too. In a sense I let the Lord dictate my schedule. This sometimes puts me in a ‘bind,’ but I trust that He will help me out. He will help me in this case too. When I work with Him, it works out smoothly. My faith, then, is that He will help others be blessed through this article. This has happened literally hundreds of times. The Lord is my Help.


  • What does the Lord desire to do through your life?

  • What spiritual gifts do you have?

  • Do you spend adequate time with the Lord to understand His work in your life?

  • How do you respond to Him when He interrupts you with another assignment?


There might be some who scoff at spiritual words, thoughts or gifts. They shouldn’t. How can one judge what they have not experienced?

These experiences are as real as the birds that fly among the clouds. What proves the Spirit’s presence is the faithful Christians who have learned to pray and abide in Christ. They live in God’s presence.

Surely like the bird they have earthly needs and must come down to feed. But their glory is the heavens. The spiritual is more important than the feeding. They are willing to fast so that they can stay longer in the air. Remember, there is the Feeding of the 5,000 and the oil that filled the empty jars. God has provided special means when the situation demands.

Soar with the Lord above. Be enriched by God’s presence and empowered by His Spirit. He will lead you places that you otherwise never have gone and accomplish what you otherwise could never even dream of.