Over the past few weeks we have been thinking about how eagles learn to fly (see previous blog). We have considered the various stages involved in their process: from being young and nest-bound, to flapping wings and floating inches above the ground, to finally spreading their wings in full flight and soaring high. Every eagle begins with fear and awkwardness, exerting much effort flapping wings. At last they enter the thrill resulting from practice and confidence and discover that their own efforts are merely a launching pad. They learn that the wind is their friend and that thermal currents rising from the earth will keep them aloft for hours with minimal effort – as long as their wings are spread. Flapping their wings and trying leads them into the unexpected revelation that they were born for life in the air rather than perching in the trees; they were created to swoop and dive, to survey the world from great heights. Not only were their wings an exquisite gift but their eyesight was sharp and they could spot small creatures from a great distance. None of the wonder of what they were created to be and experience would have been realized by them if they had remained in a nest high in a tree and relied upon others to feed them.
“Yes John, that’s a great metaphor but what do I do to soar, I have no idea…. all I get from you is that I’m not doing enough and it’s discouraging…” Have you felt like that? Others have told me they do. It may surprise you to know that I share such experiences as well. I find discouragement very easy to cuddle up to and before I know it anger and frustration join the party and the world can very soon be cloudy, dark, without a trace of sunshine. So what’s the answer?
Back to the eagle in the nest. It watches it’s parents flying off empty-beaked and returning with food that is the best it has ever tasted and it wants more and more. What a wonderful world! Eventually when the parents believe their offspring are ready to fly they cease the home deliveries. The consequence of this alarming turn of events is the young ones become increasingly hungry. I guess they could sulk in the nest and have tantrums because their parents are unfair, don’t love them anymore, and keep ignoring their cries. They can’t understand what is going on or why their parents beat their wings next to the nest creating so much wind. They start flapping as well because there’s nothing else to do – all of a sudden their lighter bodies begin to lift from the ground they were born onto. They sense a difference and a twinge of excitement ripples through them encouraged by the affirming sounds from proud and persistent parents. After a few days of the same routine one of the parents nudges them from behind and they are out of the nest.
The shock is terrifying as they screech and squawk in protest, a sinking feeling in their stomachs, hearts pounding; beating their wings in sheer desperation they stop falling – welcome to flying! Suddenly their whole world is opened up and the sky’s the limit.
Within a few days they are unable to comprehend what they were afraid of. The thought of being stuck in that nest is beyond their imagination. In fact their whole perspective has been turned upside down…..
The place they most feared is where they love to be, and the place they clung to no longer holds any attraction or excitement. With flight comes the joy of soaring wing to wing with one another, playing, hunting, learning how to do all the things eagles are capable of when they live outside, above and beyond their nest.
When Jesus walked this earth he revealed the will of his Father for all creation – they were born to fly like Jesus did as citizens of his Kingdom – on earth as in heaven – born aloft by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. “Come on John,” you protest…”Don’t be so idealistic and poetic…. in the real world you have to work and attend to stuff.”
“But if the real world in God’s eyes was revealed through Jesus, maybe what is also exposed is the emptiness and blandness of the unreal world – the kingdom of darkness – everyday life lived without thought, reference or interaction with ‘our Father in heaven? That ordinary natural world is symbolized by the eagle’s nest…. it’s what they know when they are born… it’s where they initially feel protected, secure, and safe.”
Learning to fly and soar is first of all about realizing there is the possibility of more to life than I know it to be at the present moment. If I want to protect my ‘status quo’ and the nest I am in then such suggestions will be threatening and discouraging. If in my heart of hearts I sense there could be more, then the same words may be the breath of life and hope to which I respond with curiosity and some degree of excitement. The metaphor is a principle that can be applied to any part of our life and growth…. whether it be career, marriage, faith, overcoming a bad habit, entering into a new area of life…. Bearing that in mind, and understanding that these cycles and principles are part of spiritual and human growth throughout our lives – here are a few words of encouragement:
- The nest is any area of life where I am comfortable, secure, and possibly somewhat indulged.
- The parents of the baby eagles are God working through Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and others.
- The baby eagles have absolute trust in their parents…. they have bonded and the image of the parents is imprinted in the minds of the young. First application: Our relationship with Jesus, the love of his Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit needs to be something with which we are growing in confidence and familiarity. If that is a missing reality then it’s a good place to start…. establish a personal relationship with Jesus and feed your faith. How?
- Eagles don’t learn to fly on their own…. they need mentors, parents, or someone who is already flying to teach them. Ask other people about their relationship with Jesus, read books, watch DVD’s, but most importantly interact with people. Interaction will build your confidence, help you discover that we are all the same, and accelerate your learning curve substantially. It’s also a great way to get rid of pride, insecurity, and the nonsense of always thinking we are not good enough. Ignite passion – enter into worship and discovering first-hand what that means 🙂
- Read the Bible…. daily – accounts of Jesus’ life and the growth of the early church in Acts. Ask God’s Spirit to help you understand and always converse with him from a posture of being loved, adored, and his favorite child. God wants you to soar more than you desire to; he’s on your side!
- If you want to know where God is desiring to teach you to fly and soar pay attention to where you are hungry, or possibly feeling uncomfortable right now. Your answer may seem very boring but that’s what nests are…. nothing spectacular… in our world they restrict and limit, in God’s perspective they are launching pads. Talk to someone and work out practical ways to exercise muscle in preparation for flight. God’s Spirit will energize and empower what we offer when we show we are serious and begin in our own strength to do something. Keep it private and failure will block you every time. Learn to enjoy the process of becoming – more than perfection 🙂
- Embrace the reality that learning to fly in a new area always involves trusting others, risk, some degree of apprehension…. and then the exhilaration of breaking through… flying – then to soar!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)