Flying Forward Flying lessons from our creator, Part three (Read Part one)
Robin Weidner, August 2010
The great eagle has baited you out onto the edge of the nest with food, causing you to lean so far that you fall out. Now as you tumble downwards, you flap your wings madly, shrieking. As the world spins around you, you’re not sure which end is up.All you know is that you need to survive this fall…somehow.
As you near the earth, your wings catch a gust of wind and you begin to level out. Surveying the land ahead, you look for a place to get your feet back on solid ground. Seeing a grassy field, you pull up your legs and prepare to land. Hitting the ground for the first time, you take a tumble, roll to a stop, but then stand up, shaken, but unharmed.
Pleased, the great eagle flies by and drops a blessing…your next meal. You pounce on the food and eat, amazed that for just a few moments you experienced what it means to fly. There will be more flying lessons ahead, but one thing is for sure, life as you knew it in the nest has ended. It’s time to fly forward.
Two weeks ago, Dave got the call we’ve dreaded for many long weeks…telling him to be at the district office at 8:00 am on Monday morning, lodging a knot in his stomach. Prayerful all weekend, Dave set off early Monday morning to spend time with his maker.
To fill the hour drive to the meeting, he counted off all the blessings God had given through his 17 years of employment.
What he received was still painful—a cold and clinical push out of the nest. Two statements were read, a list given of what equipment he had to return. When Dave tried to offer his thoughts, he was politely informed they had no interest in discussion.
Four hours later, after giving back his company car, Dave rode home in a taxi stunned that his company offered him no severance...his pay would end immediately.
But it wasn’t just Dave’s world that had radically changed. In some ways, I was more disoriented than him. Dave’s loss circled me back to other losses, reminding me of the day my sister died in an automobile accident, the day my mother left this earth overcome by cancer, my father’s death not so long ago.
As Dave called his mom and dad, it struck me that I had no mother or father to call.
Exhaustion set in as I struggled to find my bearings.Falling out of the nest was disorienting. It felt like the world was spinning around me, while I had come to a complete standstill. At the same time, I knew that I had nowhere to go but forward.
Designed to Fly
“…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.”Isaiah 40:31
Eagles have inspired writers and artists throughout time.In fact, some early cave drawings were of giant eagles! But although eagles build impressive nests (up to 9-foot in diameter) our awe of them doesn’t come from their ability to build or sit in a nest.We’re inspired by the way they fly!
One thing’s for sure. God created eagles for flight. Consider their physical make up…
Eagles have powerful vision. Bald eagles have two centers of focus that allow them to gaze forward and sideways simultaneously. From several hundred feet above the water, they can see a fish skimming under the surface.In fact, with eyes four times sharper than a human eye, they can see a rabbit from a mile away.
Eagles have natural flying mechanisms.For instance, a special oil gland behind the wings holds oil. The eagle uses her talons to squeeze the gland and extract oil, which she can use to preen and maintain her wings.The eagle naturally loses its feathers, a few at a time, to grow new ones, renewing its strength.
Eagles are equipped to soar. It’s been determined that on average, an eagle only flaps its wings for two minutes out of every hour. Because powering such large wings takes twenty times more energy than gliding, eagles seek out thermal currents that allow them to soar for long distances.
The truth is that as God’s precious children, we are no more designed for life in a nest—attached to and fulfilled by this world—than the eagle.
We have powerful vision — Upon becoming God’s children, we were given an amazing second center of vision…a spiritual one.This is meant to tune us in to the power of God (Acts 26:17-18), open our eyes to God’s will for our lives (Colossians 1:9), and to help us see those parched with thirst for God down in the valley below (Isaiah 41:17-20).
Our strength is renewed — In Isaiah 40, God promises to renew our strength through our hope in him!When we feel entirely weak we can lean on His perfect power through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).Like the eagle, every “feather” lost is an opportunity to grow new perseverance and trust in Him (James 1:2-4).
We’re equipped to soar — Like the eagle, we’re not meant to endlessly beat our wings (of control, performance and perfectionism) to make sure we don’t hit the bottom. Rather, we soar when we rest in Him (Isaiah 30:15).
Dave saw a glimpse of this just a week before he lost his job.
I had just finished part two of this three-part series, and had called Dave on the phone to read it to him. The very next morning his company’s human resources gave him a call…grilling him about a work situation. When he tried to explain all the ways he’d sought to bring this situation into the light, it was clear they didn’t want to hear.
Knowing that his days were drawing to an end, Dave decided to use his lunch break to go out jogging along the river. Thinking of my article, he yearned to see an eagle, but several weeks back he had been told that the eagles had all left for the season.
As he jogged and prayed to God, suddenly a shadow rose up over his left shoulder.As he glanced up, a huge white-headed bird was soaring overhead. Dave could hardly believe his eyes…a massive eagle so close. For several long moments, the eagle flew right above him, as if he was accompanying Dave on his jog.
God’s message was crystal clear…Dave, I’m here with you. Don’t be afraid…I’ll help you fly!
Tumbling out of the nest…with God!
“How gracious he will be when you call for help! As soon as he hears he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more, with your own eyes you will see them.” Isaiah 30:19-20
I was comforted by Dave’s encounter. And on the very most challenging day, the day Dave found out he’d lost his job, God had much he wanted to say to me as well.The first message came shortly after Dave’s phone call that he was jobless and on his way home.
With pain mounting up like a menacing wave, I picked up my phone to check my e-mail, not sure what I was seeking. Finding a Mind Change Moment, I clicked through to read the message. Framed by my Blackberry screen, the words appeared in large print…“Relax, your God reigns.” I started crying, touched at how directly God spoke to me.
A couple of hours later, as I was helping Dave clean out his office, anger rushed over me.Who do they think they are to treat my husband that way! As I straightened his books, one fell off of a high shelf, almost hitting me in the head. The title?Forgive and be free!
But God wasn’t quite finished. A little later, while making a big pile on the floor of company files (and relishing the thought of kicking his ex-company out of our lives), I pulled a gift bag full of folders out from behind the cabinet. On the front were the words, “Trust God.”
God had a message for me... Robin, know that as you tumble out of the nest, you aren’t alone. I planned for this moment, willed this adversity,and am right here beside you to teach you how to fly.
What is God’s plan for our future?How will we find sustenance now that we’ve lost our twice-monthly financial feedings? Honestly, we’re not completely sure. But we are sure of this. The same God who reigns in times of prosperity, also reign over times of adversity.
And just as it would be strange to see an eagle looking back over its shoulder as it flew, God wouldn’t have us dwell on the past. Rather, he would urge us to fly forward.Because as we fly forward, we fly straight into his good plans for us.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”Isaiah 30:21
Read: Isaiah 40.Note verse 27 as a pivotal verse in the passage.Have you ever felt that your way is hidden from the Lord? That he has disregarded your cause?Write down God’s answers from this chapter.
Ask Yourself:The eagle has incredible nest-building skills…mainly for the sake of their young. Yet eagles were not designed by God to make the nest the focus on their life.What “nest-building” skills do you have? How can you shift the nest more into the background and “taking up wings” more in the forefront of your life?
Journal:In this article we see three characteristics of followers of God: powerful vision, renewed strength, and being equipped to soar.Look up the scriptures listed, and then write down some ways you’ve experienced each of these.Which of these do you need to grow in the most?
Meditate: Listen to the song “Flying Forward” by Alyson Stoner and focus on the lyrics. What does this song tell you about the meaning of moving forward?