Enjoying the Word of God is fairly new to me. Although I am familiar with its stories, it is only within the last few months that I have found myself longing to spend time in it. With the exception of Psalms and Proverbs, I never really paid much attention to the Old Testament. Then, this past year, I participated in a Bible study that went through the life of Moses. That meant I had to read the first five books of the Old Testament. Yes, that meant reading even the book of Leviticus! Truth be told, though, I learned so much from those first five books. Of all the stories and verses that are contained in those books of Moses, one small section in particular really caught my attention. As I studied it more, I was touched by how God really cares for us as His children.
Deuteronomy 32:9-11 says, “For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.”
These verses are part of a song of praise that Moses was singing to God. Moses had led the often rebellious and whiny Israelites for forty years through the wilderness after God had rescued them from bondage in Egypt. The book of Deuteronomy is mostly a retelling of the events that took place from the day they left Egypt until the death of Moses. It was verse eleven, though, that made me want to dig deeper. What did Moses mean when he compared God to an eagle stirring its nest? Since research is one of my favorite things to do, I decided to learn more about the ways of the majestic eagle. What I found struck me anew with love and awe for my God.
To begin with, eagles typically mate for life. From what researchers and naturalists can determine from eagles that have been banded and studied, an eagle will only stray from its life partner in the case of the death of its partner or a partner unable to reproduce. The eagle newlyweds build large, sturdy nests, comprised of sticks and lined with softer materials such as grass or cottonwood. Eagles’ nests are thought to be the largest nests of any bird. They build these nests high up in trees, usually near water. Each year, the male and female eagles produce two eggs although sometimes only one is produced and sometimes three are produced. The eggs are tended to by both mom and dad eagle. For the first two weeks after the eggs have hatched, one parent is constantly with their offspring. Both mom and dad hunt for food to bring back to the nest to feed their new little ones. They tear the food into pieces and feed it directly to the little birds for the first few weeks. Eventually, they just drop the pieces in the nest and the little birds feed themselves. Baby eagles are ready to fly around the age of ten weeks.
Here is where the majesty of God and the beauty of Moses’ song come in…
A baby eagle is pretty comfortable in the nest mommy and daddy built for it. The baby is well protected from predators not only by the location of the nest, but also by mommy and daddy keeping a watchful eye on their offspring. Eagles, though, weren’t designed to sit in nests all the time. In fact, one of the most majestic sights one can witness in nature is that of a bald eagle soaring through the sky, showing off for a potential mate or hunting for food for its family. The eagle parents know that it is going to take a little persuading to get the little one(s) to try out their wings. So, momma goes through the nests and “stirs” it. She pulls some of the sticks out of their carefully intertwined design so that they protrude into the inside of the nest. Enough sticks are disturbed that whenever the baby eagle, which by now is almost too big for the nest, moves, it is poked by the end of a stick. Home is no longer as comfortable as it once was. The small eagle may still be reluctant to leave the safety and security of the nest, so mommy and daddy give it some help by nudging it out of the nest. Of course, momma loves her little bird so she isn’t really going to allow it to fall to the ground, but she desires her little one to learn how to use its wings so it can survive in the world in which it has to live. The little bird frantically flaps its wings but does not have the strength yet to prevent a crash to the ground. No worries, though, for momma bird is watching closely and swoops down to grab her little one and carry it in the protection of her strong and developed flight wings. After several exercises like this, the little bird gains strength and learns to use its wings to fly on its own power.
As I read about this process and compared it to the verses found in Deuteronomy, I was struck by how Moses likened our God to the protective mother eagle. Sometimes, God has to “stir” up our nests to make us uncomfortable. Maybe we’ve allowed our walk with Christ to become nothing more than routine habit. We read our Bibles because it is the first (or last) thing on our to-do list. We go to church because it is what a “good Christian” is supposed to do. We sing because it is expected of us. Our prayers have become nothing more than a laundry list of things we bring to God to make our lives more comfortable. But, like the mother eagle, God knows that our comfort is really a disservice to us. Then, after stirring our nest so that we get poked by sharp sticks and we are not quite as comfortable, God takes us a step further and nudges us completely out of our comfort zone. He refuses to let us stay where we are, for He knows we need to learn to survive in this world in which we live. But be certain, God does not push us out of the nest and then watch as we fall helplessly to the ground, scratch His chin and say, “Well, I thought she was ready. Guess not. Oh well. I have other children I can work with.” No. God doesn’t do that. Instead, He keeps a close eye on us and, like the eagle, will rescue us and protect us under His wings. He will not let us crash to the ground. Time and again, God will push us out of our comfort zone in order to strengthen our wings—our faith. Each time He rescues us, we are reassured that He is there, He is in control, and He loves us.
What “push” has God applied to your life? What has happened that made you think that you would for sure crash and burn, yet here you are, still standing because God rescued you? I’m not saying that every difficult and uncomfortable event in our lives is caused by God. We live in a world that is full of evil and pain and sadness. But, nothing comes into our life that isn’t filtered through the hands of God. He may not cause it but, for whatever reason, He allows hard times to fall on all of us. He wants us to turn to Him during those times of discomfort—He desires that we trust Him to rescue us and protect us under His wings. Sickness and disease and pain may permeate our bodies. Anguish and sadness can torment our emotions and mind. Anxiety and fear can paralyze us. The ground is still there. The storm rages on. The nest is still uncomfortable. But under the loving wings of our Savior we can be sure of one thing—we are safe from ultimate harm.