In his book Run With the Horses, Eugene Peterson tells a story of seeing an adult swallow teaching its chicks to fly.
Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched over a lake, and what happened next must have been terrifying for the little chicks:
One adult swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch – pushing, pushing, pushing. The end one fell off. Somewhere between the branch and the water four feet below, the wings started working, and the fledgling was off on his own. Then the second one.
The third was not to be bullied. At the last possible moment his grip on the branch loosened just enough so that he swung downward, then tightened again, bulldog tenacious. The parent was without sentiment. He pecked at the desperately clinging talons until it was more painful for the poor chick to hang on than risk the insecurities of flying. The grip was released, and the inexperienced wings began pumping. The mature swallow knew what the chick did not – that it would fly – that there was no danger in making it do what it was perfectly designed to do.
If you’re anything like me, there’s something you’re holding onto for dear life right now, and you can sense the Lord calling you to release it. Everything in you is convinced that you’ve got to stay where it’s safe and stick with what’s comfortable. And He says “no” – but not audibly – He just keeps using circumstances and people to peck, peck, peck at your weary talons.
God knows it’s time for us to let go. He knows that the branch has served its purpose, and it’s time to fly. Yes, it’s scary to let go, but personally, I don’t want Him to peck at my little talons anymore. It’s time to loosen my grip and plunge into His grace. It’s so scary – believe me, I know it is – but let’s release our grip on what’s comfortable and see what it feels like to soar.
Many thanks to Clay Cochran for the lovely photograph above. I sent him a text the day I wrote this and asked if he had a photo of a baby bird – a couple of hours later, he came across this female Pine Warbler who let him pick her up. God is everywhere.