God wants to do more than give His Beloved heart and strength. He wants to lift them up … He wants to give them wings so that they can soar like eagles. He wants to transform them from frightened, little mice to mighty birds of pray that dominate the skies above. I don’t know about you, but the thought of being transformed by God from frightened, timid little people to people with “heart and strength” takes my breath away.
God does want us to soar like an eagle. It is important for us to learn a few things about eagles so that we can apply their example to our lives, don’t you think? To begin with, birds basically use three modes of flight. The first … and most common … is called “flapping.” Flapping involves keeping the wings in constant motion during flight to counteract gravity. Hummingbirds, for example flap their wings up to 70 times a second. Flapping, as any hummingbird can tell you, is very labor intensive … it makes a lot of commotion or noise … it uses up a lot of energy … and it doesn’t usually get the bird very far … which is why you see most flapping birds going from branch to branch or tree to tree. Perhaps you are a “flapper” … making a lot of commotion … using up a lot of energy … never making much headway … always flapping from one problem to another.
The second method is called “gliding.” The bird flaps its wings … keeps going until it reaches a certain height … and then “glides” back down to earth. It’s not as labor intensive as flapping and is good for longer distances …. but it still involves fighting gravity. The bird goes up … and then comes down. The bird goes up … and then comes down … up … down … up … down … flap … then glide … struggle … then relax. I think that most of us are “gliders.” We struggle … we rise … and then we glide until we encounter the next problem … and then we struggle … we rise … we overcome … and then we glide until we encounter the next problem, the next obstacle, the next barrier.
And then we come to SOARING! Very few birds are capable of soaring. Soaring is powerful … soaring is graceful … soaring is a thing of great beauty if you’ve ever had the chance to watch an eagle soar in the wild. It flaps its wings until it reaches a certain height and then it spreads its wings and rides the thermal drafts and unseen currents in the upper atmosphere. Sometimes it just seems to hang there. At other times it can hurl through the sky at speeds reaching 80 miles per hour … all without flapping its wings or moving a feather.
God watches us as we flap and glide through life and it breaks His heart because what He really wants is for us to mount up on wings like eagles and soar with Him in Heaven far above our problems. Doesn’t that sound … well … awesome … incredible? Doesn’t that sound like something that you would want to do? Soar in the Heavens and get a God’s eye view on the world and on your problems? Well, guess what? God is trying to tell you that you can! Deuteronomy 32:11 describes God as being like a mother eagle teaching her children how to fly by stirring up the nest … hovering over her young … spreading her wings … taking them on her back … and bearing them aloft on her feathers.
There are seven things that have to happen in order for a young eagle to learn how to fly. These seven stages are also evidence of the way in which God “trains” us to live a life of faith. As I go through them, listen and see if you recognize any of them in your life. I’ll give them to you first and then come back and explain each one. The seven steps are:
7. And deliverance.
As the time draws near for a young eagle to begin their “flight training,” the mother eagle will frequently push off from the perch and hover above her young. In response, the eaglets will begin to flap their wings wildly in imitation. At this stage, the eaglets don’t have enough feathers to fly but flapping their wings in imitation of their mother develops their wing muscles.
This is the first stage … “demonstration.” The mother eagle is demonstrating flying for her young and they imitate her example. What a great picture to describe what God has done for us through Jesus! Jesus Himself proposed: “If you’ve seen me then you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). He demonstrated the kind of faith and the kind of life that we should be living. In John 13:15, He said that we should do as He has done before us and follow His example. In 1st John 2:6, the Apostle John says that whoever claims to live in Jesus or claims that Jesus lives in them must live as Jesus did. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children,” says the Apostle Paul, “and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Paul goes to say in 1st Timothy, “And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1st Timothy 1:16). God doesn’t just abandon us in the nest and leave us to figure it out for ourselves. Jesus was and is the perfect and indispensable demonstration of how we should live the life of faith, amen?
The next stage in the young eagle’s training is the “discomfort” stage. Deuteronomy 32:11 describes how the mother eagle stirs up the nest. It one thing for these young eagles to imitate their mother and flap their wings in the security of their down-filled home … and quite another for them to hop up on the edge of the nest, look down, and imagine stepping out into nothing but air. Naturally … they don’t want to do it … so mama eagle beings “stirring up” the nest. She actually begins to poke through the bottom of the nest and tear it apart. The young eagles are forced to hop up on to the edge of the nest before the bottom literally falls out of their home.
God does that to us, doesn’t He? When we want to stay in our secure, down-filled nests, God “stirs up” our lives. We begin to be troubled … bothered by something. We feel disturbed … anxious … a little worried … something isn’t right. You know what I mean? Have you ever felt that way before? A little anxious? A little disturbed? Unsettled? Just can’t put your finger on it?
That’s God stirring up our nest. He’s getting us ready for a change. He’s preparing us to face something that we have been avoiding. Maybe it’s our neglected finances. Maybe it’s a relationship He wants us to mend or break off. Whatever the case, there is a growing discomfort and uneasiness in us that is hard to ignore. The trouble is … like the eaglet … we are reluctant to get too close to the edge … to take a risk and get out of our comfort zone. We don’t want to get out of our nest and look down and face our reality.
Some people live their entire lives at this stage. They live in fear … clinging to their nests like terrified eaglets … afraid to do anything about their problem or problems. They would rather live with the discomfort than take a risk and jump out of a nest that’s falling apart.
Does that describe you? At least the discomfort is familiar, predictable … or so you convince yourself. If you were to take a chance, who knows where you might end up. You could end up splattered all over the ground … so better to stay with the devil you know and are familiar with, amen?
Here’s the deal. As much as the eaglet wants to stay in the nest they can’t because mama eagle keeps making the nest smaller and smaller and smaller until the eaglet has no choice but leave the nest … and God does the same with us. The pain and discomfort get so bad that we can no longer ignore it … our options become so limited that we have no choice but to move, to respond, to do something. This is called the “danger” stage.
God often allows a crisis or some danger to come into our lives so that we will wake up to what’s happening and move the issue that we’ve been ignoring off of the back burner. Suddenly we get fired … or we have an accident … or a serious illness. Perhaps a spouse is threatening to walk out … or a creditor starts foreclosure proceedings. Like the eagle’s nest, the bottom suddenly falls out from under your life and you find yourself falling at the rate of about a hundred feet a second and realizing that you better do something … fast!
Consider this … have you ever seen a full-grown eagle perched in the nest, peeping like a baby chick, waiting for its momma to bring it some food? No … you haven’t, have you? Because somehow … in some way … that mother eagle is going to get her young eagle to leave that nest … and as the young eaglet plummets towards the ground, he or she better start flapping, amen ?
Eagles weren’t meant to stay in their nest forever … and neither were we! Like the eagle, we are meant to fly … to soar! If you are in a crisis right now … or have had one recently … could it be that God is trying to motivate you to take a leap of faith and begin flapping your wings so that you can learn to soar?
The next stage is the “decision” stage. Danger has a way of forcing us to make a decision. With the nest suddenly gone from under it and the ground coming up really, really fast … the young eagle has a decision to make, doesn’t it? He or she can do nothing and keep falling until they smash into the ground … Youch! Or they can begin flapping their wings like crazy, amen?
God will take us to that place … especially if we have been reluctant to grow. He will put us in a position where we have to make a decision. Are we going to do nothing until we crash and burn? That’s always an option … an unpleasant one … but always an option … or we can begin to do something about our situation, can’t we? We can face the situation … or run away. We can take a risk … move forward … or stay right where we are or possibly retreat. Are you caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? Between a rock and hard place? Is God trying to force you out of the nest? Does it feel like you’re free-falling, caught between Heaven and earth? Then you, my friend, have a decision to make.
For the young eagle plummeting towards the ground, the decision is pretty clear and pretty obvious … start flapping and change their direction from going down to going up. For us, the process of changing direction is called repentance. That’s right … repentance. Two things have to happen in order for repentance to occur. First, it starts with a decision to turn away from evil and turn back to God. Now … we can think about our situation … we can think about doing something about our decision … but nothing’s going to happen until we start flapping our wings.
The Apostle Paul warns us about this in 2nd Corinthians 7:10: “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” According to this verse, two people can say that they are sorry and want to repent … but only one goes to Heaven and the other doesn’t. The difference? One of them had a sorrow that produced repentance … a change in direction … the other was just as sorry but their sorrow produced no change in direction, no repentance.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that we get to Heaven by our own merits … but the “decision” stage has to be followed by the “doing” stage. The eaglet has a decision to make as it is hurtling towards the ground. The eaglet is the only one who can make the decision to flap or not to flap. The mama eagle can teach her young to fly but she can’t fly for them. Learning to fly takes effort on the eaglet’s part. And that goes for us too.
Consider this. God often gave His blessing in Scripture while the recipients of the blessing were still in the midst of the crisis. The blessing came as a result of their obedience. For example, when the Israelites came up the Red Sea with the Egyptian army hot on their trail, they had a decision to make but it wasn’t until they obeyed Moses’ command to move forward and step into the Rea Sea that the waters parted. The same happened at the Jordan River. The first time they came to the Jordan River, they decided not to cross the river and, as a result, did not inherit the blessings of the Promised Land. The second time they came, the waters of the Jordan River parted when they obeyed God’s command and they stepped into the river. When Jesus healed the ten lepers at the border between Judea and Samaria, the lepers weren’t healed until they obeyed Jesus and turned to show themselves to the priests. The Bible says that “as they went, they were made clean” (Luke 17:14).
It isn’t until the young eagle is falling through the air and begins flapping its wings that it experiences the freedom and joy of flight. The eagle learns to fly by striving against the gravity that’s trying to pull it down.
You see, a beautiful thing happens when we make that decision and take that leap of faith. We experience the “deliverance” stage. Here’s the thing … the impending danger of hitting the ground inspires the young eagle to take action and try to save itself but what the eaglets doesn’t know is that the mother eagle has no intention of letting her children crash into the ground below. The mother eagle keeps her eye on the young eaglet and … just before it hits the ground … she will swoop down and catch her offspring on her back and carry the young eagle to a place of safety so that it can try again.
What a truly beautiful picture that is of what God does for us. It would have to be a pretty cold mother to push her young eagle out of the nest and then hover above and watch as her young eaglet struggles and crashes into the ground, don’t you think? But that’s how some people see God … like He’s pushes them out of the nest and then just hovers overhead and watches them crash and burn. If I believe that, I’d fight God tooth and nail to stay in that nest, wouldn’t you?
But that’s not what happens at all. The Bible says that God spreads His wings, swoops down, catches you before you hit the ground, and bears you aloft on His pinions to a place of safety (Deuteronomy 32:11b).
You’ll never know if God will deliver you out of your troubles … you will never know if He will give you the power that you need when you are faint … you will never knew if you can run and not grow weary … you will never know if God will renew your strength or lift you up on eagle’s wings if you fight Him and stay in the nest. But if you take that leap of faith … you will discover that He will deliver you … He will give you the power you need when you are faint … He will renew your strength when you grow weary … and He will swoop down and catch you before you hit the ground.
Is God trying to teach to trust Him? Is He pushing you out of your safety zone so that you can soar like never before? Then have faith, my brothers and sisters, and let Him. Trust Him. Work with Him. He knows what He is doing and He knows what’s best for you. He doesn’t want to see you fail. He doesn’t want to see you crash and burn. He wants you to fly with Him. Remember the mother hovering over the eaglets? Their desire to imitate her comes from their desire to fly, . to fly like her and to fly with her. When they couldn’t fly, they were stuck in the nest as the mother flew off. Now that they can fly, they join her and soar together in the Heavens. And that’s what God wants for us. He knows what we’re capable of but He also wants us to know what He is capable of so that we can be with Him and soar in the Heavens with Him.