Life can be undeniably rugged. I was reminded of this while watching a reality show filmed in Alaska. The family homestead was in constant motion. Kids galore, parents, and grandparents were feeding animals, harvesting fields, storing up for winter’s blast, which was right around the corner. Certainly, no one was sittin’ round the campfire—it was all work before winter’s blast.
I put on a coat when the next episode started.
By show’s season end, it was undeniably clear that surviving Alaska’s untamed frozen tundra was for a select few. I would become dreadfully mean, irritable, desperate with a hacking, wet cough.
Yet there is something indescribably pristine about Alaska. Snowcapped mountains wrapped with miles of thick ice. Rivers bursting with eager salmon swarming upstream to spawn. Soaring eagles sinking their claws into food for their young. It’s wild creation—colored canopies, wooded scents, mossy soil, mysterious icy caverns—especially delightful to behold from the comfort of a warm home with running water and indoor plumbing.
The Wild Life
It’s one thing to see the wilds of Alaska; it’s another thing to live in the wilds of Alaska. Those who live in the elements are forced to cultivate survival qualities that are impossible to develop merely by watching a TV program or reading a book. The same thing can be said about the Bible. It’s one thing to read the Bible, to watch a biblical account on TV, to learn passages of Scripture; but to develop one’s character and to live by faith is like being dropped into the wild. To grow as a Christian, we must experience those grueling climbs out of our dark caverns, survive some treacherous cliffs, swim against the tide of a lusty, fallen culture, and wait in the freezing-cold-to-the-bone tundra . . . often all alone.
Virtue is beautiful; growing virtuous is hard.
Alaskan eaglets are great examples of this principle. From birth, it’s survival of the fittest; sibling rivalry knocks out the weak ones, and the few who survive are in for a whole new game of “catch and release.” When it’s time, the mother kicks her offspring out of the nest—she punts that baby out in order to teach it to fly. (I would prefer a video or instruction manual, but she prefers to just punt.) The eaglet screams and squeals, flopping its downy feathers in the frosty air without much luck. Just before impact, some of the time the parent will swoop down and catch the terrified ball of fluff, lifting it back home.
How I wish this was more comforting, but the reality is that these flying lessons usually last several hours—punt and swoop, punt and swoop—until it’s finally punt and fly. What may seem ever so mean is the necessary act required for an eagle to survive.
Free Falling Is Terrifying
Has God put you through flying lessons lately? Have you been punted out of your nest—your comfort zone that keeps you insulated from life’s harsh realities? The Christian life isn’t for the faint of heart; the wings of your faith will never grow strong and thick and hearty if you stay in your nest. And there is nothing fun or fancy about the free fall—it’s terrifying. Yet our God promises to swoop down, to catch our flailing lives and carry us in the shelter of His wings—safe, secure, warm (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11). But He will not allow us to stay there indefinitely. His love does not coddle us; it renews our strength so we can grow and change—and soar.
How badly do you want to soar? How high do you want to fly? Remember, the Lord will lift us on wings like the eagles, but you have to get out of the nest. Maybe it’s time to stop complaining about the free fall, to let go of bitterness and resentment. No nest is perfect: parents blow it, friends take off, pastors mess up, and leaders can be totally lost.
When life’s circumstances push you out of the nest, lean in. Lean into the free fall as an opportunity to learn to fly, and trust the Lord to help you land. Yes, it’s painful, it’s hard, it’s not fun or comfortable or easy. It wasn’t for Christ either—He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Don’t wait another minute. Get out of that nest of comfort and predictability and trust God. I promise; the view is indescribable!
Let Me Hear from You
From one eaglet to another, let’s fly together. I long to connect with you, to lift your spirits, breathe life and hope into your life, and to be a wind beneath your wings. Let me know what you need, and let’s enjoy the view together.
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