My most favorite sermon has been Ern Baxter’s “Eagle Christians.” In this sermon he compares mature spiritual Christians to grand eagles. Ern takes us through the life of the eagle from birth to death. He uses it as an illustration to explain the maturing process of the Christian from first being saved, through to maturity where they sore to grand heights in the unity with God. The ability to soar does not come easy, because it is mostly learned through trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations will either cause fear that drives us from God, or they build trust that brings us intimately closer to Him. For some, salvation is pretty much it.
I know because I spent a lot of time there. For years I wondered why all of these difficult things kept happening to me, a child of God, never realizing they were opportunities to learn how to fly to the very presence of God. Sooner or later we have to realize these trials are not stones to stumble over, but building blocks to stack. For some, however, they are not content to just stack blocks to get closer to God, they want to learn to fly and soar to Him and with Him.
Now, to learn to soar as a Christian does not come from simply reading the bible and jumping as high as you can, any more than it would be to read a flight manual and jumping off a cliff! Though it may be just as traumatic. Ern explains when it is time for the mother to teach the little eaglet to fly, her teaching process is very abrupt. She starts by throwing out chunks of the down feathers or soft rabbit fur from the nest until there is nothing of comfort left. Then she throws the eaglet out!
As you would expect, the little eaglet panics and flaps its wings all over the place as it desperately tries to fly before he hits the ground 10,000 feet below. Just when the little eaglet thinks it’s done for, the mother swoops down and catches the little guy on her pinions. She takes him back up even higher only to drop him off again. Again and again she does this until the little bird figures it out and flies off.
Mr. Baxter then goes on to another event in the eaglets maturing process. But, I would like to examine in close detail how the little eaglet goes from shear panic to flying. For too many of us have been in that panic situation and failed to learn how to fly, thus we either hit hard or live our Christian lives in quiet desperation. How the little eaglet learns not to panic can teach us a valuable lesson.
Let’s pick up with the little eaglet being thrown out of the nest and dropping like a rock. In his panic state he flaps his wings all over the place, or like us Christians, BEGGING AND PLEADING WITH GOD TO HELP US!!!!!!!!!
Eventually after being dropped several times the little bird tires out and can no longer flap its wings, so it gives up fighting and relaxes his exhausted extremities. Instantly something changes. Good old gravity kicks in. The body of the bird being heavier than the wings, drops down and wings go up, causing the little bird to stop tumbling. He knows he’s still dropping but he also notices he’s no longer tumbling, and this gives him hope. With its panic abated, it can now think. He remembers his mother doing something just before he was thrown out of the nest. She jumped out of the nest, stretched out her wings caught an air current and just hovered. So he tries the same thing. He musters all of his strength he has left and stretches out his wings. Suddenly he’s no longer dropping he’s gliding! Hallelujah!
He then flaps his wings down hard and up he goes! He’s no longer an eaglet he is now an eagle.
Let me give you a practical example of this phenomenon in the Christian perspective. This is a little embarrassing but here it goes. In early 1990 I was in construction and had just finished a project. I decided to take a few months off and remodel my house. A few months went into several months. Once more, the phone stopped ringing. No one was calling me about going to work. As the months went on my bank account dropped until it was becoming dangerously low. Panic set in. I actually spent more time begging God to do something than I did working on my house. I had become paralyzed with fear. I was about to lose everything. When there wasn’t enough money to pay the mortgage at the end of the month, I sat on the couch, and like the exhausted little eaglet, I gave up. I mean I really gave up and was just going to let whatever happens happen. In that moment of letting go of my panic, a peace came over me. And for whatever reason, call it a Word of Knowledge, a Prophecy or just getting knocked upside the head with God’s Grace, I knew in two weeks that phone was going to ring. When it did I was going back to work full time. This is not something I believed, it was something I knew for a fact. I had such confidence that I took out my last $1,800 dollars, bought building materials and went to work on my remodel as if I had a two week deadline.
In exactly two weeks to the day, the phone rang and a four hour consulting job ended up in a four year project. For the last 26 years I have had not one unscheduled day off. For the first time in my Christian walk I flew!
Unfortunately, as you can tell by the answers to my morning prayers, I haven’t become an expert at it. I may still doubt, but prayerfully and thankfully, I no longer panic, and that is the biggest step in learning how to fly.