A few years ago, I was on the verge of my dream job, one I had been working towards for years. Other than a few logistics to settle before I officially signed on the dotted line, it was finally mine– almost. In a last-minute surprise, a shift in funding at the company eliminated the position. I was devastated.
I felt disappointed with God. All of the signs had pointed to this job being His will. It felt like He had done a bait-and-switch.
I knew I was supposed to say that God was good and I just needed to accept the fact that He had a different plan. I didn’t want that plan though if I was really honest. There were too many good reasons for Him to do it the way I wanted. But I had to let go of it, and from my perspective, it was for no good reason.
Around that time, I ran across this quote from Eugene Peterson’s book “Run with the Horses,” in which he tells a story of seeing an adult swallow teaching its chicks to fly:
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.
That story hit me hard as I realized that I was that third little bird, the one whose talons were locked onto the comfortable branch of having my dream job. God wasn’t going to have it though. God was going to peck, peck, peck at my talons and do whatever it took to set me free from my desperate attempt to hold onto something that was supposed to make my life complete–something other than Him.
Several years later, I look back at that frustrating time and notice something: Letting go of that branch taught me how to fly in ways I never would have otherwise. I didn’t say it made me good at flying – the storms of life still fling this little bird around. It feels unfair and hard. I seek the comfort of new branches, and the Lord actually allows me to rest on them for a while. But before long, He’s nudging me again.
Year by year, with each plunge of faith, my little wings are getting stronger. I’m learning to trust the one who made those wings and believe that, in the end, He’ll use them to get me just where He wants me to be.
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