We’ve all heard stories of how mother eagles teach their young to fly. According to common folklore, when her instincts tell her the babies have matured enough, the mother eagle pushes them one by one to the edge of the mountain nest and then out into thin air. As the baby eagle flutters and flaps ineffectively while plummeting to the earth, its mother swoops underneath, catches the desperate eaglet on her back, and then mounts up back to the nest to prepare for the next “launch.” It’s a wonderful picture of proactive coaching and caring, even if it isn’t exactly true. Turns out, a fledgling eagle, ready to launch from the nest, is already almost full grown. It would be quite a feat for a parent to catch its own weight plummeting to earth and then return it to the nest. The reality is that eagles’ nests tend to be rather large, and the fledglings after a few months of having watched their parents in action, practice by hopping and flapping from end to end, often perching on branches above or right next to the aerie before finally taking the plunge out into “thin air.” The parents are always nearby observing, but if the fledgling has problems making the transition, it usually ends up on the ground, and if not seriously injured by the fall will still be fed by the parents until it finally gets the hang of flying and is able to “mount up” to the old nest or a new home. Usually, however, the fledglings are successful in imitating their parents and using their wings to soar gracefully out into the world. Only rarely do the parents have to nudge reluctant fledglings to make their first solo flight.
One wonders if mama and papa eagles feel the thrill of satisfaction and joy at watching their babies launch themselves successfully into the big, wide world, growing into the next stage of eagle life as God intended. I would like to think they do, but of course that is between God and eagles. However that is certainly the way I feel about our two older children whom we visited while on our GA trip earlier this month.
I won’t bore you with the details, but I want to share with you my still somewhat inchoate but very real mixture of joy, enthusiasm, gratitude and contentment at seeing Brittany, now 26 in Minneapolis, and Strider, now 24 in the Chicago suburbs, living in their own nests and flapping their wings and soaring in their own surroundings. I’ve discovered the deep gratitude and joy before God which fill the hearts of parents who know that the successful launching of their children into the big, wide world is the result of divine grace and mercy. How many times I’ve looked back with regrets and concerns that my parenting mistakes and my irascible soul would handicap our kids with insurmountable hurdles and chronic emotional wounds. What a testimony to God’s healing power and merciful love that He has tended them so wonderfully in the midst of our often inconsistent, sometimes blind and always fumbling efforts! He has made their wings strong and given them a strong sense of their destiny as His beloved children.
It was truly a thrill beyond words to see them flying with grace all around the places where they have nested. My heart is thankful beyond words. May His grace continue to be the wind beneath their wings, and yours also….
In the next couple of days, I will begin a new blog series on what I believe to be the the major theological presuppositions underlying the liberal worldview expressed at our recent General Assembly, and why evangelicals like myself have such problems with these beliefs. I hope you will stay tuned….