Have you ever watched a baby eagle learn to fly? His mom pushes the unsuspecting baby out of the nest. He then flails as he falls through the air, scared and feeling completely helpless as his life flashes before his eyes, surprised when his mom catches him before he reaches his death. The baby eagle was worried and anxious for his impending doom that he was sure was about to happen. “Why would she do this to me?”
We have a tendency of asking this same question of God in our lives. When we’re stuck in horrible storms and we can’t see a glimpse of light or hope that signifies it’s almost over, we question why God would allow this to happen. It’s such a miserable time–why would a God so good put us through something so bad?
Because in our times of falling, we learn to fly.
And as our “mama bird” (or Papa, technically), He knows that. And you know what?
He never lets us hit the ground.
On Sunday, one of our staff members, Scott, talked about trusting God in uncertainty, and he used this baby eagle example (if you haven’t heard his sermon, it’s good. Here’s a link). I won’t take credit for that ridiculously fantastic analogy, but it definitely resonated with me and led me to a little reflection.
When I was in Colorado last summer, I went on a 14-mile round-trip hike with a group of friends on our day off. Our destination was Bluebird Lake, which is pictured above. It was beautiful, and the company was phenomenal. As we began our trek back down the snow-covered mountain, some people decided to slide down the snow to get to the bottom, since it was a giant slope instead of a drop-off. I didn’t want to because I’m a pansy, but I slipped and ended up joining them anyway.
Unlike my friends, who gracefully made it to the bottom of the snow and hopped right off, I took an accidental detour.
I started veering to the left and came face-to-face with the side of another mountain, a 90-degree angle of solid rock. There was nothing I could do but brace myself for impact while my friends helplessly watched from the bottom, expecting to need care flight since we were still 6 miles from the trailhead.
By the grace of God, I only came out of it with some huge scrapes and bruises, and I didn’t even feel it because I was sliding down the snow for so long that my legs went numb. God was watching over me in that time, and I knew that.
For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. – Psalm 91:11
It could have been so much worse, but it wasn’t, because God protected me. I trusted Him in that, but 4 days later, the uncertainty came and I didn’t understand what He was doing.
I had worked the day before (wearing shorts because wearing pants was still painful), but I felt a little nudge to call off, although I didn’t know why. At this point in my life, I had never missed a day of work besides my first work day following the mountain incident. I didn’t like to admit that I was physically unable to work, which is a pride issue that I won’t get into right now. Reluctantly, I called off of work, and as soon as I hung up the phone I burst into tears. “Why would You make me do this?” I asked the Lord. “I’m fine!” Those were the last words I spoke to Him that morning at 6am before ignoring Him until maybe 2 in the afternoon.
I was angry, and I didn’t trust Him in that uncertainty. I didn’t want to, and I had no desire to talk about it.
After cleaning off, I ran into my roommate, who was unaware of my adventures earlier in the week. I explained why I wasn’t at work, pointing to the massive scrapes on my leg. She asked if it was infected, but I didn’t think anything of it.
A couple hours later, as I attempted to do homework and continue ignoring God, I remembered what my roommate said and I looked up symptoms of infection. I compared the images online with what was glaring back at me as I looked down, and I went to the nurse to confirm it.
It was infected.
Very infected, actually. The doctor at Urgent Care told me it was a good thing I came when I did before it got worse.
By the time I had gotten my necessary antibiotics, after chatting with God about finally understanding what He did, it was 3pm. I would have only been off work for a half hour. In the time that I would have been working, I discovered I had an infection, went to the nurse, went to Urgent Care, and bought antibiotics. If I would have gone to work, I wouldn’t have run into my roommate, and I wouldn’t have even considered the possibility of my leg being infected.
God asked me to take off work for a reason, and now I understand why.
Scott brought up a quote by Philip Yancey that makes sense to me now that I’ve experienced this:
“I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
We don’t always see or understand what God is doing in our lives. We do, however, have the power of hindsight, which allows us to look back and see how He used that time in our lives. For me, He taught me the importance of trusting Him in uncertainty, before I had a phrase for it, and to have faith in Him.
We may not understand why God is pushing us out of the nest, but He will always catch us. He’ll always be with us, in good and bad times. For it’s when we’re falling that we learn to fly.