On my 54th birthday this past Friday, five barn swallow babies too big for their nest took a leap of faith. Their first flight, from front porch nest to front porch railing, was short but successful. Wings worked. And there they perched, waiting for parent to come and feed, then gobbling up the nutritious offerings.
The same morning, our son Nick snapped photos of me at our post office, packaging manuscript, addressing priority mail envelope, and sending it off flying to Alaska to land in the hands of a woman I have not yet met, but will in just a few weeks. Another leap of faith, flying into unknown territory—Alaskan wilderness, first manuscript, first time having a writer work with my writing, offering growth-producing advice.
Remarkable symbolism. Perfect timing. No coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe in an extraordinary, intimate God who guides perfectly, meticulously, according to His will. And He desires to bless—to blow us away with His awesomeness—more than we could ever imagine possible—if we would just follow His lead.
And that’s what I’m trying to do. Trying to discern His voice—trying to follow His lead—trying to let Him breath through me—through my mind, my heart, my hands as I write.
How do I know when I’m in God’s flow—when my wings are being lifted by His spirit? I don’t want to take off blindly from nest and splat-land. I want to fly. I want to soar. But I’m just a fledgling, a baby bird, inexperienced with flight. And what if I fall? What if I crash? What if I just plain die? Why am I trying to fly at all? Maybe I’ll just stay in the nest where it’s safe and cozy warm and I have the company of other scared birds?
Nope. Can’t do that. I’m too big for the nest. My heart is too big. My hope is too big. My God is too big. And He’s calling me out. I can hear Him, just as the swallows are calling their young. We were MADE to fly!
It’s time! Come out! Spread those wings! You’re ready to fly, even if you’re scared, even if you’re weak! Because the only way you’ll ever soar is if you start to fly. So don’t worry about falling, just start flapping! You can do it! I’ve got you covered! Come on now . . . JUMP!
Wings shaking but flapping . . . oh God, here I go!
I tried to imagine the baby swallows’ thoughts and feelings the moment their little feet left the edge of their nest, the moment they jumped in the air, the moment they experienced their wings working, flapping through invisible, keeping them aloft. Amazing faith, these little birds have. Amazing parents, too! Because the parents were close, cheering them on with each chirp. And when possible dangers came their way, like yellow lab or people entering or exiting right by their flight path, right by their landing and take-off rail, the parents were right there to protect, to guide, to counsel their young.
What an amazing birthday gift God gave me Friday! Swallows. Following leads. Feeling protected. Jumping out in faith. First flight.
I’ll be flying soon, on metallic wings bound north and west. But I’ve been growing and strengthening my wings for 54 years, by His grace. And now it’s time, He says, time to take a leap of faith into the unknown. But even in the unknown, there’s always a known . . .
I know my God. He is the one who made me and you. He is the one who nurtures me and you. He is the one who strengthens me and you. He is the one who will help me fly, and you. And He is the one who knows where I’m going—you too . . .
All we need do is fly and follow.
Just like the swallow, with faith.
And I believe we will soar like the swallows, one day.
We WILL soar, with God.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31