A farmer was walking by a field one day, when he spotted a small bird on the ground. While carefully approaching, he realized that the baby bird was an eagle. Excited about his find, he brought the eagle to his barnyard, where soon it started living and behaving like the chickens.
Several months went by when one of the farmer’s friends stopped to visit. While observing his friend’s barnyard, he was dumbfounded when he watched the king of all birds pecking around like a chicken, refusing to fly. Since it had learned to behave like a chicken, it was no longer an eagle. “Still,” he told his friend, “certainly this bird has the heart of an eagle. Allow me to show him who God designed him to be.”
The man took the eagle to the top of the house, urging him: “You are an eagle! Stretch your wings and fly!” But the eagle was afraid of his unknown self, and thus quickly jumped down to his familiar surroundings. But the man was determined. He took the bird to a mountaintop, where he lifted the eagle high above his head and said: “You belong to the sky! Soar, my friend!”
The eagle looked up, then down again, quickly jumping to the ground. But the man would not give up. Day after day he repeated the exercise, as the eagle became less frightened by the heights. Finally, one day the man lifted the eagle straight toward the sun, and it happened that the bird began to tremble. Slowly, he stretched his wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared away into the heavens.
I’ve been a collector of eagle stories since my early teens. Some of them are true facts about this majestic bird, and others are simply tales that use the eagle’s makeup to illustrate a point.
In my favorite passage of Scripture, the prophet Isaiah used the imagery of a soaring eagle at the end of one of the most inspiring chapters in the Old Testament, where the prophet describes the greatness and inscrutability of almighty God.
When I read this eagle story for the first time, I could not help but think of how much my environment helped determine what I believed about myself during my formative years. I was blessed to be raised by parents who instilled in me the idea that I could accomplish anything, so long as I worked hard and kept my eyes fixed on my objectives. They encouraged me to face my fears and never back up from my beliefs. I am forever grateful for that.
But as I grew up, and as it often happens, I started listening to other voices. Voices that told me I was not good enough. Voices that laughed at my dreams and mocked my principles. Voices that called me away from a fulfilling and fruitful destiny.
Without realizing, I became insecure, fearful and anxious. The fearlessness and determination which, in my youth, filled my heart with the assurance that I could do anything, was replaced by a constant feeling of inadequacy and co-dependence. Even years of therapy did not erase the mighty voices that tried to silence the eagle in me. And so, I lived like the eagle in the barnyard for many years – designed for the heavenly heights, and yet content with a lowly life. Until God found me, took me to the mountaintop and started showing who he designed me to be.
I cannot help but wonder how many eagles are reading this column today, realizing that there has to be more to life than what they experience. Realizing that they have settled for a life that is far from what God has intended, either by compromising their beliefs and integrity by hanging out in the barnyard for way too long, or by refusing to acknowledge that they need help to come out of their current circumstances.
If that is you today, why don’t you give the Friend a chance to show you the heights of his wisdom, glory, mercy, forgiveness and grace? Maybe it’s time you believe in who he says you are: an eagle, beautifully designed to soar. Would you allow him to be the wind beneath your wings?
This article was originally published in Patricia’s column for The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Saturday, October 28, 2017.God designed you to be a soaring eagle. But are you living as a chicken in a barnyard? Click To Tweet