“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, spiritual teacher and writer, told the fable about an eagle that thought he was a chicken.
When the eagle was very small, he fell from the safety of his nest. A chicken farmer found the eagle, brought him to the farm, and put him in the chicken coop to protect him. As time went on, the little eagle grew beside the chickens. Because of his surroundings, the eagle grew up doing what the chickens did. Believing he was a chicken, he had no reason to think he could ever fly, so he never attempted to.
A naturalist came to the chicken farm to see if what he had heard about an eagle acting like a chicken was really true. He knew that an eagle is king of the sky. Imagine his surprise when he did indeed see an eagle strutting around the chicken coop, pecking at the ground, and acting exactly like a chicken. The farmer explained to the naturalist that this bird was no longer an eagle. He was now a chicken because he had been trained to be a chicken and he believed that he was a chicken.
The naturalist knew there was more to this great bird than his actions showed as he “pretended” to be a chicken. He was born an eagle and had the heart of an eagle, and nothing could change that. The man lifted the eagle onto the fence surrounding the chicken coop and said, “You are an eagle. Stretch out your wings and fly.”
The eagle moved slightly, only to look at the man; then he glanced down at his home among the chickens in the chicken coop where he was comfortable. He jumped off the fence and continued doing what chickens do. The farmer gloated. “See? I told you it was a chicken.”
The naturalist returned the next day and tried again to convince the farmer and the eagle that the eagle was born for something greater. He took the eagle to the top of the farmhouse and repeated: “You are an eagle. Stretch out your wings and fly.”
The large bird looked at the man, then again down into the chicken coop. He jumped from the man’s arm onto the roof of the farmhouse, but he did not fly away. The naturalist did not want to give up –he knew what eagles were meant to be. So, he asked the farmer to let him try one more time. He would return the next day and prove that this bird was an eagle. The farmer shook his head and insisted the eagle was now a chicken.
In spite of those words, the naturalist returned the next morning to the chicken farm and took the eagle and the farmer farther away to the foot of a high mountain where they couldn’t see the farm at all. The man held the eagle on his arm and pointed high into the sky where the bright sun was shining above. He spoke: “You are an eagle. You belong in the sky, not on the earth. Stretch out your wings and fly.”
This time the eagle stared skyward into the bright sun, straightened his entire body, and stretched his massive wings. Those wings moved slowly at first, then decisively and powerfully. With the mighty screech of an eagle, he flew.
Sometimes we allow our situations to determine who we are. But our heavenly Father has created us to be wonderful, unique creatures. If we forget that and instead try only to “fit in” with those around us, we will never stretch our wings to their full potential.
Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to us to remind us of who we are. This Spirit whispers deep inside each one of us, inviting us to lift our eyes to the heavens. Yes, the Holy Spirit will never give up on us, but continues to encourage us to soar to the heights God has planned for us.
Watering the Seeds
What wrong definition have you given to yourself that might be holding you back?
Whisper a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to help you hear God’s voice of love, calling you to become who God has created you to be!