John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Soaring like Eagles. part 1

Sermon by Hilary Price -  May 2012

Soaring like Eagles.

So this morning we are going to look at how a parent gives a child roots and wings and how God gives His children roots and wings. And we are going to consider what the Bible calls a mystery. Proverbs 30:18-19 the writer says, “There are three things too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman.” And we are just going to look at one of those – we are going to look at the way of an eagle in the sky. And we are going to learn amazing lessons from the bird that is called the king of the air. It is a remarkable bird. Jesus said, “Look at the birds.” He often told us to look at the picture book around us to learn lessons from what we see. So today the eagle will be our teacher. The eagle starts off as a very scrawny buggley eyed little creature. And somehow it grows to be a majestic bird with a wing span of up to 7 ½ feet. It has talons that are four times stronger than a human hand. It can weigh up to 11 kg. It can reach speeds of up to 120 km. /hour. It can fly 50-100 miles a day in search of food. It can spot its prey over a kilometre away – some say 3 kilometres. It can fly higher up into the heavens than any other bird and it can live for 70-120 years. It is a majestic bird.
 So how does this little eagle morph into this amazing creature? How does the parent eagle give roots and wings to the baby eaglet? Actually it begins at birth. When the baby eagle is born in the shell, it has to peck its way out of the shell. So the mother can hear it, she can see the little beak coming. It can take three days for it to peck its way into the world. And in that time the mother does not help. I know as moms you will be thinking how hard that must be. You just want to go and just help and then the baby could get out. But this is the first test for the mother and the baby eagle. And being a mother is all about letting go. And in this situation you let go before the baby is even born. If the mother pecked a hole and let the baby come out, it would not be a baby that would survive. If it doesn’t have the strength and the will to peck its own way out of the egg then it is not going to be a baby that will thrive. So the baby arrives and it finds itself in a nest, a massive nest. I became a little bit kind of obsessed with eagles when I saw a pair this summer in Nova Scotia and discovered the nest that they had been living in. It was way up in a tree and it was enormous; it was the biggest nest I had ever seen. They can be three feet deep and they can be eight feet across. And so the little bird; at first it pecks its way out of its shell, its egg, sits in this little nest and it cannot see out. It can’t see over the top.
That’s the time to give the little baby roots, give them muscles in its wings, stability, routine, nourishment, all the things you pour into a child when they are very little. And the parent disciplines the child and prunes their roots, but you don’t cut, you don’t clip their wings; you simply prune their roots. There is a big difference. And those wings that stretch over two metres across start off as tiny little wings. And the wing muscles have to start developing when they are little so when the time comes to fly they will be ready. You don’t push your children out of the nest without helping them to develop first. And despite the fact (this amazes me) that eagles are the most competent fliers among the whole bird kingdom, they do not instinctively know how to fly. If the mother bird and the father bird do not teach them, they will never lift off the ground. They have to be taught. And what goes on between an eagle and its baby is what in the natural world is called imprinting. In imprinting there is a bond established between the baby and the first thing it sees. So a little duck was born and the first thing it saw was a beach ball. So it would only go where the beach ball rolled. And it spent its whole life trying to mate with beach balls. So the eagle locks on to its parents. That’s the first thing that they see. And the eagle simply learns by watching. This is a huge challenge to parents because they see what you want them to see and they see what you don’t want them to see. And the little baby watches the parents soaring in the sky and it sees it swooping down for meals and bringing it home to the nest. And little by little the parent is teaching the baby one day you will do this yourself.
So how will it get to that place to do it? Well, here the eagle differs from other birds as well. We have at the moment a pair of cardinals nesting in the clematis just on the garage on my neighbor’s house. And they are busy all day, busy all day. And in the little nest there are three little cardinals all just sitting with their mouths open. If you put a speech bubble above them they would just be saying, “Feed me, feed me, feed me.” And the mother flies around and she comes and she pops the worm into the baby’s mouth. Well eagles don’t do that. Eagles fly off. They get their prey, which is always fresh meat - eagles never feed on dead carcasses like vultures. Vultures will gorge at a carcass until they are sick. Eagles actually get fresh meat, they bring it back to the nest and they don’t put it next to the baby; they put it away from the baby. So the baby has to strengthen its legs to get to the food and then it has to learn how to tear off little appropriate bite-size pieces so when it does leave the nest it knows how to tear off the meat. And as the baby eats, its muscles are gradually being strengthened, not just because it is taking in food, but because remarkably, the mother sits on the edge of the nest while the baby is eating and she flaps her wings. And because the baby copies the mother, while it is eating it is flapping its wings. So it’s actually developing its wings as well as eating the food.
I am giving you a lot of spiritual parallels here – I am not going to put up a big light every time I give you one because it would get tedious for you, but just ask the Lord to show you the spiritual truths behind the physical pictures I am giving you this morning because they are pretty remarkable. So the baby is in the nest, the food is coming, it is taking the food, it is flapping its wings, and it continues to grow. And then the mother starts to hover above the nest and she creates a down draft, which lifts the little chick off its feet and it finds itself for a moment flying in the nest and then it drops back down again. And I love this picture because the first flight that the eagle baby takes is tiny. It hardly realizes it has done it and it has done it within the confines of the nest. That’s adventure and it’s fun.
 And you need to have fun and adventure in your nest, your home, or your children will go and look for it somewhere else. If everything you do is boring, why would they want to be in your nest? They will be wanting to be in the nest of the family down the road who do the fun things. So incorporating fun is really, really important. The children learn, they learn what they can do physically and what they can’t do in their muscles, and that all goes on in the nest when they are little. So from the moment this baby is born it is learning to be independent. It has cracked its way into the world, it is tearing its own meat, it is testing out its wings, the mother is hovering. But the mother leaves the bird for long stretches of time by itself. Every baby and every child needs to have time in a place where the mother is not. Parenting is not about holding so tightly to your children as long as you can; it’s about gradually letting your children go.  And Alice Bradley said, “I knew there would come a time when I have would have to say ‘goodbye’ to my little boy. I just didn’t realize it would happen again and again.” And it does. There’s that first time you leave your child with somebody else to babysit. There’s that time they walk away from you into the daycare program. Depending on what their personality is, my children all did that very differently. Hannah had tears streaming down her face and kept waving and kept waving. And Laura didn’t give me a backward glance and just went whisking off into daycare. But they changed in their personalities. Hannah didn’t remain that little child who cried when her mommy wasn’t there, but it was hard at first. And sometimes it’s hard for you. And I have seen mothers standing at the gate bawling. “Bye darling!” And the kid’s like, “Mom, just go.” Letting go is not natural. It’s against all our instincts. We just want to protect but we’re in great danger of overprotecting. And unfortunately now we have a whole breed of moms, which we will call helicopter moms.
And this is not healthy helicopter stuff hovering above to let the down draft lift them up. This is very unhealthy helicopter moms. And what these moms do is they hover over their children’s lives all the time and they have several ways of doing it. They are invisible but they are there. Because they have a cellphone, so they send their kid off with a cellphone. And the kid thinks, “I am on my own.” Oh, but they are not on their own because they get to where they are going and they are doing what they are doing, and the phone rings. And they pick it up and, “Oh, yes, of course it is Mom.” And Mom says, “Where are you?” “Well, you know where I am – I am at Susan’s. I said I was going to Susan’s.” “What are you doing?” “Well we are watching the television.” “The television? What certificate is the film you are watching?” And they are just butting in on their children’s lives and then they start giving advice. “Are there any parents in the home? They’re not? You can leave that room you know; if you don’t like that film you can walk away.” And the child is actually being controlled – well, trying to be controlled by the mom who is at a distance but still wanting to be in there, interfering and not letting the child make their own decisions, not let them be responsible, not make them make their own mistakes and discover there are consequences when you make mistakes. I remember being at a friend’s house once. I was about 13. Her parents were out. We began watching a movie. We didn’t know it was a horror movie – it became a horror movie. To our horror, it became a horror movie. At that moment we had a choice whether to watch or not. Well, we were intrigued, so we started watching and watching and then this terrible image came on the screen and I just screamed and ran out. I was running down (she lived in this really old house with dark corridors) – we were running down the corridor and I didn’t know that she had screamed and run with me. I was running down the corridor and I looked behind me and she was there! We both ran away into another room and then I said, “Go back and switch the television off” and she said, “No, you go back. So we kind of crept in like this and switched the television off. Now why did I do that? I didn’t do it because my mom called me and said, “What are you watching? Are you sure it’s decent?” I did it because my mom never brought horror movies into my home. She brought fresh meat, good stuff. And I learned from my mom. I learned by observing. And I never watched a horror movie again in my life. I loathe horror movies and I learned by my own experience. I really feel sad now in the world of technology that the offensive to spy on your children has ramped up several notches with the world of Facebook. So now we have parents who can actually spy into their children’s worlds. And believe me, they do.
They look at what their children are wearing, they look at who they are hanging out with, they look at what they are saying. And if they don’t like it, they call them up and tell them. “I noticed you said…” We have to give our children space where the mother is not present and trust them that what they have learned will equip them to deal with whatever happens in that space. I don’t do Facebook. Please don’t ask me to be your friend. I am not going to be your friend. I don’t like it personally. I don’t want people knowing everything about my life. And when it came out I made a decision, really because of this mother spying thing that I loathe.   And my son was a teenager and I know it was his darkest fear that I would be able to get into his world and see what he was doing. So I don’t do Facebook and I have this horrible feeling that if I asked if I could be a friend, he would reject me, so I didn’t ask if I could be his friend. The time to leave the nest will come. It’ll come soon. But the children have got to have taken responsibility and started making decisions for themselves and discovering “if I do a bad thing then there will be a bad consequence and I will get hurt.” And sometimes they get hurt and sometimes they eat bad things, but they won’t be bad things that you have brought into the home and exposed them to. And when it is time to leave the nest – and this is the amazing thing about eagle parents – they do two things to encourage their babies to fly: it is so simple – they stop feeding them. So the baby sits and sees the mom and the dad out there. We watched this this summer circling around, a big juicy rabbit hanging out of the beak. They watch mom and dad coming – “Oh good, dinner’s coming.”
Dinner flies past. Dinner flies around the lake. And the baby starts to scream. So the mom comes back again. Now Dad comes. Now he has got something bigger and juicier. And the baby in the end is just yelling. We heard him. “Feed me!!” And they won’t and they don’t. And not only do they not feed the baby, what they now do is they make the nest a very uncomfortable place to live in. So they stir it all up and all those lovely feathers that she plucked off her heart above her chest to line the nest that is so symbolic, she clears them all out. “Okay, we are done now. All the grass goes. All the soft hay goes. All the toys that apparently eagles pick up anything they bring back – rattles, dolls, all kinds of things are in the eagle’s nest. Those go out. No food, no comfort, no toys; you are on your way. So now this little bird has a choice, and we have a choice. Parents of Canada: I don’t know there’s any nation on earth that has so many adults living in the basement of the parents in the homes in Canada. This is not a problem in Britain because we don’t have basements, so that’s it. They have to go. I wonder how many of you (I am not going to ask you to put your hands up) have a kid over the age of about 25, they’re done university and they’re living in the basement.
Let me just tell you something. If you are still doing your kid’s washing and they are 26 years old and the only time they ever come up from the basement is when they smell the aroma of your delicious cooking and they plop themselves down at the table and you feed them yet again, they will be there until they are 56 years old. And the only time they will come up and stay upstairs is when you cease to be shuffling around up there because you have shuffled off your mortal coil and they think, “I get the house.”  It’s so dangerous to just keep your children at home and let them stay there. It’s time to encourage them on their way. And we can do that by stirring up the nest. We take away all the soft stuff and we leave these little pointy bits sticking up, which are really hard to sit on. This is exactly what God did. Deuteronomy 32:11 says, “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest” (makes it uncomfortable) “hovers over its young” (showing them how to fly), “spreads its wings to catch them” (he pushes them out of the nest) “and he carries them on his pinions.” So is the Lord God with His people. God stirred up the nest of the children of Israel when they were living in Egypt. He sent plagues, pointy, nasty things, so that they would no longer want to live there, so they would want to leave, so they would learn to depend on Him. So He could guide them and He could rescue them and He could provide for them, not the masters they were living under in Egypt.
It might well be that your children have just become far too comfortable in the nest. Nothing is expected of them. It might well be that you have become far too comfortable in the nest. Sometimes God will destroy our nests because we have started to put our confidence in them. I have spent years building this house, Lord, this business Lord, this retirement plan. And now I just depend on that instead of God being the anchor of my soul.
 Source: Livng
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Rev. Billy Graham