When God Stirs the Nest Flying lessons from our creator
Robin Weidner, June 2010
A great eagle with powerful wings sits besides you. He’s always seemed grand as you’ve watched him soar over you. He’s lovingly provided for your needs and tenderly cradled you under his wings. Today, he has a different agenda.
Suddenly, with his powerful talons, he begins digging, dislodging all that made your life comfortable. “Ouch!” you exclaim, as newly exposed thorns prick you. Then with ease, he rises straight above, furiously beating his wings. The raw power stirs everything around you— and sheer chaos erupts. You hold on for dear life, watching as all that comforted you flies away. “Why are you doing this?” you cry.
A few days ago, wanting to hear God’s voice, I picked up Springs in the Valley. The book fell open to a devotional based on Deuteronomy 32:11, “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions..."
Intrigued, I kept reading the devotional… “God, like the eagle, stirs our nest. Yesterday it was the place for us; today there is a new plan. He wrecks the nest, although He knows it is dear to us; perhaps because it is dear to us. He loves us too well not to spoil our meager contentment...”
Amazing and challenging words.Amazing, since we had just returned from Vancouver Island, where we saw eagles soar overhead. Challenging, because Dave is currently waiting for word (after almost 2 decades of service to his company) whether he’ll still be employed.
And like an eaglet, I can get so comfortable in what appears to offer security that the thought of change fills me with fear.
A lesson from the eagles
It turns out that an eagle’s nest is quite an elaborate affair. A pair of eagles may take up to 6 weeks to build a nest, usually in the top of a tree, lining it with soft grasses, moss and cornstalks. To complete the next, they tenderly line the bottom with their own feathers.
For the first twelve weeks of life, the eaglet relaxes, trusting her parents to provide everything she needs.
When it’s time for the eaglet to learn to fly, the mother and father use their sharp talons to pull apart the soft materials that lined the nest. Then the mother eagle rises up and hovers over the nest, flapping her huge wings, stirring the nest.
As she does this, all of the comfortable stuff that kept the nest cozy flies out. This sends a clear message to the eaglet—it’s time to leave your life of comfort!
If needed, the mother will literally knock her baby out of the nest, and then follow it as it falls, swooping it onto her wings at the last moment. The mother eagle knows that her young one can only survive by learning to fly.
To fully grasp the implications of God “stirring our nest,” let’s dig a little deeper into the passage in Deuteronomy. The Jamieson-Fusset-Brown Bible Commentary explains how Deuteronomy 32:11 relates to God…
"This beautiful and expressive metaphor is founded on the extraordinary care and attachment with which the female eagle cherishes her young… She, in their first attempts at flying, supports them on the tip of her wing, encouraging, directing, and aiding their feeble efforts to longer and sublimer flights. So did God take the most tender and powerful care of His chosen people..."
"Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites. Then have them sing it, because it will be my witness against them.”Deuteronomy 31:19 (New Century Version)
“Like the eagle that stirs its nest,” comes from a song written by God and then given to Moses shortly before his death. God told Moses he wanted the Israelites to memorize it and sing it in their homes, so that it would be passed down to the next generation.
This way, when difficult times came after their sin and disobedience, they could remember God’s heart of love for them, his heartache when they wandered, and his desire to renew his compassion. Most of all, they could remember how God alone enabled them to soar on the heights!
I picture Moses, now old and grey, standing before the people ready to impart his final words.Still glowing from his conversation with God, he lifts his voice and perhaps also his staff, as he begins belting out the song written by God himself…
“Let my teaching fall like rain,
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants...(Deut. 32:2)
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does not wrong,
Upright and just is he... (v 4)
In a desert land he found him [his people],
In a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
He guarded him as the apple of his eye...
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest
and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
and carries them on its pinions... (v. 10-11)
See now that I myself am He!
There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of my hand.” (v. 39)
What better way for God to express his heart than writing a song, and then teaching it to Moses to hand down to those he loved?
But what strikes me is that of all the analogies he could choose to depict himself, to win the hearts of his people and generations to come…God chose that of an eagle. And that analogy simply drips with grace.
You see, unlike the eagle and its eaglet, I haven’t been with God from the day of my birth. Rather he found me in a “barren and howling waste” and then brought me to himself, shielding me and guarding me.
And like the Israelites, even though there have been times when I’ve pursued my own selfish ends, and taken some hard falls, he’s still been there ready to renew his compassion.
The lesson of the eagle sheds so much light on a covenant relationship with God.
I entrust myself to God, while he guards me as the apple of his eye. Sometimes he wounds me in his stirring of the nest, but he also is quick to heal. He promises to catch me, and I promise to jump!
And then no one, including the evil one, can steal me out of his hand!
Soaring like Eagles
Think of it this way. Whenever we pray…“God enable me to help more people, help me to live today with Jesus as Lord. Please use me for your purposes.” What we’re really asking is to be able to fly.
And part of God’s natural answer to that request is, in his perfect timing, to start stripping away whatever would keep you bound to the earth…whether home, career, relationships, status, possessions, security or more.
Shouldn’t we then…
Depend on our only true footing, God our Rock (rather than cling to what’s comfortable!)
Praise him for the perfection of his plans, even when our own plans crumble.
Believe that the one who created us knows what is best for us.
See thorns as God’s way of preparing us to fly.
And, most of all, when we go tumbling out of the nest, shouldn’t we trust that he’ll stretch his wings to catch us?
As we do so, I believe in a way that is mysterious and powerful, we take up wings and soar like the eagles.And we take a step closer to true security of heart.
“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Apply: What attributes of God do you see in these passages? How do you see God's care and provision? What response does he expect from us?
Ask Yourself: Think of your "nest" as the God-given gifts that sustain and comfort you, i.e. home, relationships, career, or health. In what ways has God "stirred" your nest during your Christian life? Is there any part he is stirring right now? What is your response - to cling to the nest or to jump out and cling to God?
Meditate: Go back to the visual image at the beginning of the article. Picture yourself as the one sitting beside the eagle. How is he taking care of you and providing for you? Now, picture him beginning to dislodge, then rising above you to stir the nest. How do you feel? What are you afraid of? Why is it important to jump?