Listen With Your Eyes

“Guys! You aren’t listening! I just told you what we are doing and you ran it wrong again! Run the play again. Run it the right way!”…“Stop! No! Guys, what do you hear with?!” [crickets] “I’m asking you. What do you hear with??!” Thinking this had to be a trick question a few of us looked around at each other and finally mumbled, “Um…our ears?” “You hear with your ears, but what do you listen with? You listen with your eyes. If you aren’t focused on my face when I’m talking to you, you are hearing me, but you aren’t listening.”

Scientifically, this may or may not be true for everyone. But for most people, it’s safe to say that if you are looking at someone while they are speaking to you, chances are higher that what they are saying is more likely to be absorbed. Coach’s words spoken that day landed in a special place in my memory. I can still recall the cadence and delivery of this mid basketball practice lecture like it was yesterday. It resonated then, and it resonates now. I’ve even caught myself using it on my son a few times, especially during those times when I’m trying to have a teaching moment with him and I know he isn’t listening.

Recently, I’ve felt like Holy Spirit has been having this same conversation with me. I am always open to hearing, but am I taking time to listen? In much the same way as we try and have a face to face conversation with someone while staring at our phone, we do this to God, almost always without realizing it. It doesn’t work and it saddens the person standing right in front of you. Our undisciplined eyes lead to distracted hearing, not concerted listening.

It is so easy to go about an average day with only passing thoughts about God. Sometimes we just offer up token prayers during our ritualistic times like before a meal and before we fall asleep. Yet when we really need to hear His voice in pivotal moments we wonder why we can’t. I know in my own life this has been the case. Why is this? It’s because we are exhibiting signs of a lack of eye discipline.

Here’s the thing…God is always speaking, but we aren’t always listening. God speaks to us through His Word, in prayer, through our spouses, our children, in nature, during worship, etc. However, unless we are looking for Him, setting our face toward Him, we can totally miss it. Again, I know this because I have a load of first hand experiences at totally whiffing.

Scripture confirms in several places how important our eyes are to our relationship with God. It reminds us of where to fix our gaze, where to look. It’s eye discipline.

Here are a few that stood out to me referring to eye discipline:

Psalms 123:1-2 – I lift my eyes to you O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master.”

Psalms 25:15 – My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.”

Proverbs 4:25 – Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.”

2 Corinthians 4:18 – “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

If I could sum up the central theme of those scriptures into one sentence, I would say…Where we fix our eyes is where we place our trust. Our eyes can get us into trouble if our gaze is misdirected.

In the sports world, if you have a good coach, they know when to stop the practice to drop a teaching moment on you. They know how to get you to refocus. They remind you that they are the ones with the winning formula and not you. Then you remember that if you want the play to work correctly, you’re going to have to wipe the sweat from your brow and get your eyes on the coach and listen. You might be so exhausted from all that effort you are putting forth that you are just hearing what you can and surviving practice. The key and probably the hardest thing you can do in those moments is to realize you need to take a deep breath and get your eyes on the coach. You don’t want to keep practicing the wrong play.

To excel in games, it is important to practice well. Larry Bird is quoted as saying, “I’m a firm believer in that you play the way you practice.”

When the game gets intense, you are in the trenches, and you need to score a bucket, you want to be able to run the play the right way. The opposition is going to be bearing down on you and applying pressure. In those moments, having listened to the coach during practice is going to pay off.

Thankfully, we have THE Greatest Coach of all time and He is loving and gracious. He will always be instructing us on how to live our day to day lives the right way. The question is, where is our gaze directed? Maybe we messed up and we know we didn’t run the play right. It’s going to happen because we aren’t perfect. But as Christ followers, we have an Ever Present Coach waiting for us to look to Him.  Once He knows we are listening He instructs us, then calmly says, “Run it again.”

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Access Point – Where’s the Wi-Fi?

In the year 2018, there are four essential requirements for the survival of humanity: food, water, shelter, and Wi-Fi. This is a bad “First World” joke of course, but in the realm of information technology (IT) support this doesn’t feel too far off the reservation.

Over the last 14-16 months or so, my IT team has been in the process of rehabilitating an old network infrastructure in a large school building that our church has recently relocated to. A few small items remain for completion before the network will be restored to 100%. However, even at 20% one of the first orders of business we took care of was to bring up enough of the network to activate a few wireless access points (AP’s…aka Hotspots), so that our users could connect their mobile devices to the Internet. Due to poor cellular signal inside the building it was imperative that our staff members be able to continue working, even during construction. Without at least one access point there would be no communication with the outside world.

Access Points, Firewalls, Switches, and Networks in general have been an integral part of my life for the last 17 years, but until the recent restoration project I have never really considered the significance of how wireless devices must interact with the network in order to have a pathway to the Internet. It has always simply been a process or method. Neither had I considered the similarities we have with those devices when it comes to our relationship with God.

To most people, WiFi is a glorious mystery. They don’t care how it works, they just know when it doesn’t. Without geeking out or risking reader disconnect, I just want to provide a simplistic overview of how your wireless device is able to find it’s way to the Internet. Every networkable device, whether, printer, computer, or phone has a unique identifier (a combination of 12 letters and numbers) associated with it called a MAC address that serves as it’s sort of finger print. No other device will ever be created with the same combination of characters.

My job as a Systems Administrator is to configure the Wireless Access Points and strategically place them on the physical network in a variety places throughout the building. If you get close enough to one of these Hotspots you will find that it is already there broadcasting itself, it’s sending out an invitation for connection. Some networks require a password, some are open, and some require that you pay per hour. What happens when you successfully connect using one of these methods, is that your device is then qualified, registered, supplied an address, and given access to whatever the Administrator has determined, which is usually at least a pathway to the Internet. The AP’s are typically able to communicate with all sorts of wireless devices regardless of type, make, model, printer, laptop, Android, iPhone, cheap, expensive, etc. If accepted, all devices gain access to the same Internet.

If you aren’t picking up what I’m laying down here, this is basically it… We are a unique people, we are not ordinary, but special. There is no one exactly like you or me and there will never be. What I find to be amazing is that God, through His infinite grace, is always broadcasting. He is always sending out an invitation for connection. You don’t even have to walk around and try to find Him. His proximity is wherever we are. The Divine Administrator has provided His son Jesus as THE access point by which we are able to obtain access to Father. It doesn’t matter whether you feel qualified or not. It doesn’t matter your background, where you came from, or what you’ve done. He has given us all access. The best news is that there is no password. All that is required is that we accept the “Terms Agreement” which says, “Yes, I surrender my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ”. At that moment, all qualifications are met and full access is given. We now have the ability to commune with The One who holds the galaxies in the palm of His hand.

My prayer is that you and I would remember this every time we connect to a wireless network and remember to spend time with The Lord. He is always broadcasting.

Clutter

I wanted coffee (nothing new there). After all, we were on a quick weekend getaway in Nashville, Tennessee (aka coffee heaven) and that’s what you do. As I rounded the corner of the Eighth and Roast building to return to my car, I discovered my wife with handfuls of random items walking toward the garbage can near the street. She had that look on her face and I knew instantly that she wasn’t exactly pleased with me at that moment. In life there are moments where you just know instantly what’s going on and there’s no need for explanation, but you know it’s coming anyway. This was one of those.

For months, maybe (probably) years, I have gone through periods of time where I have allowed my vehicle to become a sort of locker…a catch-all for random papers, kid art, lego’s, softball cleats, old restaurant menu’s (because Google isn’t good enough?) etc. I always justify this in my mind by thinking things like, “I drive a lot, it just happens. I basically live in this thing.” or “I have a kid and kids are just messy.” or most often, “I am so tired. I just want to get inside, put my things down and eat.” Although these thoughts aren’t necessarily inaccurate or untrue, the problem is I rarely did anything about the mess that continued to clutter my SUV.

One look at my wife’s face and I knew I was in trouble. As her lips pressed together tightly, almost as tightly as her hands grasped the trash that had littered the floorboards of my back seat for too long, I instantly knew she was done with the clutter (and as a result, so was I). Of course, we are talking about my car here, but to me I felt as though it was a microcosm of things that were going on internally. In my mind and in my spiritual walk I had allowed clutter to slowly accumulate to the point that I was unable to focus consistently on anything really. I had the hardest time praying or even making time to read a book. Life’s clutter leaves little room for valuable things. It left the floorboard of my life covered with so many random items that it became hard to focus on a few.

Webster’s Dictionary defines clutter as: To fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness. Some synonyms are: Waste, distraction, no value, interference.

The interesting thing about clutter is that it isn’t usually one or two huge pieces of distraction that hinders us, it’s the collection of all the small things accumulated over a long period of time that becomes the problem. Every day we are so bombarded with distractions of all kinds. We may live in the most distracted society ever to exist. We take on way too many things, our phones buzz continuously, we watch excessive amounts of news, spend too much time on social media, and the list goes on.

Once the accumulation of clutter has begun, it becomes a slippery slope to a number of unwanted guests. The first one I always notice is complacency. I hate complacency because it takes the edge off our lives. It lowers our defenses. It lies to us and tells us things are “fine”. No need to try super hard…no need to stay on the offensive…no need to clean that floorboard. No one really sees it but us anyways right?? So, we walk around with an “oh-well” mindset.

I will now quote Nick Saban, because football. He said this before Alabama played an undefeated Number 6 Texas A&M team in 2016 after the Tide’s 19th consecutive win, when asked how he was going to keep his players focused on the game with all the success: “We encourage our players to stay focused on the things that matter…External factors that I call clutter really can affect your phycological disposition about how you need to compete in the next game, because you can get satisfied with people patting you on the back for what you did last week, then you get punched in the nose the next week.”

We have an enemy who wants to keep us in a distracted, cluttered, and complacent state. He wants us to think all the junk in our floorboards are “fine”. All the while, his fist is pulled back and ready to strike us in the nose when we least expect it. You see, I had every intention to take the time one day to clean my car. However, having intentions to remove clutter isn’t the same as actually getting it done. It took my wife, basically saying, “enough is enough”. Thankfully, her action provoked me to not just clean my car, but to evaluate my life…to “focus on the things that matter”.

So what do we do to minimize clutter? Every person is different and deal with various things, but I love how Saban approaches this with his players. He tells them to win the next play. Beat your guy. Do not focus on the overall game, just win the next battle. In our lives, it can be as simple as saying no to responding to emails for the next hour. Maybe we can take five minutes to walk outside and look at the sky instead of down at our phones. Maybe before we race into the kitchen to start prepping lunches for the day, we find our kids, look them in the eye, and tell them good morning and how much we love them.

As it relates to my car, my wife suggested I make a habit of removing junk each time I get out of the car as to prevent the build up before it ever happens. This is also a fantastic way to maintain our souls, our thought life. If we can find five minutes a day and quiet ourselves before the Lord with no distractions and at least give Him the opportunity to speak to us, chances are high that He will. If not, at least we can find some scraps of distracting paper to place in the nearest garbage container.

Trust Issues

By the time our son had entered into our family at age one, his previous caretaker’s unschooled practices and interactions with him had already shattered his fragile trust into a million pieces. He had already determined, because of those past experiences, that those put in charge of taking care of him were not reliable and that he would need to look out for himself as much as possible. Ultimately, he didn’t see his old caretakers as “good”. We call it a part of “the old blueprint”. Little did these rookie parents comprehend that we would be spending the next several years trying to rebuild that broken trust of our little boy. However, when trust has been broken or when it has never truly been established, it is a daunting mountain to navigate.

As we fast forward eight years the process continues, but dramatic improvements have been realized. It has literally taken years of repetitively “coming through” for him, to reestablish trust. No longer does he have to depend upon himself or an unreliable source for survival. No longer does he have no voice. He now has a loving mother and father, a reliable source. He has loving caretakers that know what he needs before he even realizes he needs it. We are by NO means perfect parents, but our son now knows that we are good, and because we are good he can trust us.

As Holy Spirit began speaking to me about what trust means, that picture of our relationship with our son would not leave my thought process. It is really a microcosm of our relationship with our Father. We all have or have had our own trust issues that we battle. Maybe it’s because we have been burned by someone in our past and we put that on God. Maybe it’s because we feel like He didn’t come through in the way we wanted Him to. Maybe it’s because we haven’t received healing for a physical problem we might be facing. Maybe we don’t feel that our basic needs will be attended to. In any case, I believe if we dig below the surface we might find that the root cause has a lot to do with whether or not we believe in the goodness of God.

What does trust actually mean? The dictionary defines it like this: “A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

There are a ton of scriptures about trust, but one that stands out to me is Psalm 9:10, which says in the NLT, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

The AMP version says it like this, “And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You,…”

This scripture is basically saying, If you know Him…if you have experienced Him, you know He is good. If you know Him, you are confident in His reliability and you can bank on His strength. If you know anything about Him, you can rest assured that He loves you. Therefore, trust comes easily. But before we can really trust, we must actually believe that God is good.

A quote I read recently by Mother Teresa said this, “Total surrender involves loving trust. You cannot surrender totally unless you trust lovingly and totally. Jesus trusted His Father because He knew Him, He knew of His love.

As it relates to our son, there are times that we still have to remind him that his needs will be met. We still have to revisit the fact that we will come through for him. We still have to meet his needs and be there when he’s having a hard day. But God doesn’t have to remind us of this fact or prove anything to us. We must remind ourselves about who He is. He doesn’t change, but our circumstances do. Life get’s difficult sometimes and when it does, it is really easy to lose sight of how good He is. If we don’t remind ourselves of His love and His compassion for us, we are prone to forget just how trustworthy our Father is and that He knows what we need before we need it.

Why is it so important that we learn to trust? Here are a few reasons I came up with over the past few days:

* If we can’t trust, we can’t rest.
– “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” -Isaiah 26:3

* If we can’t trust, we can’t receive.
– “I tell you the truth, you can pray for anything and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” -Mark 11:24

* Trust leads to strength.
– “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. The will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faith.” -Isaiah 40:31

* Trust leads us out of darkness.
– “…If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” -Isaiah 50:10

* Trust leads to inheritance!
– “…But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” -Isaiah 57:13

* Trust develops closeness.
– “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” -Nahum 1:7

* Trust produces hope.
– “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Good, healthy relationships are built upon trust. From the moment our feet touch the floor after a long nights sleep, we have a thousand opportunities to practice leaning into his goodness before our heads return to the pillow. My desire is to live from my “new blueprint” and remember that He really is a good Father. He is the Ulitimate Caretaker who knows what we need before we even realize we need it.

He is literally perfect in EVERY way. He can be trusted.

Listeners

Ever been around a great listener?  Almost all of my favorite people I have ever been around are great listeners.  Why is that?  What I have found is that most every one of them also have another common trait…compassion.  Compassionate people are a pleasure to be around.  Maybe it’s because they are less interested in only dishing out advice.  Maybe it’s because their minds aren’t fixated on themselves and their problems.  Either way, I think it’s because they are being like Jesus.

One thing we know about Jesus is that He is a great listener.  There are too many examples of this throughout scripture to list here, but a story that always sticks out in my mind is when Jesus healed the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-42.  In this passage, Jesus not only heard him crying out above the noise of the crowd, but then he called the man forward to come near and asked him what he wanted him to do for him (knowing already what was needed). He gave the man an opportunity to be heard.  Then Jesus had compassion on him and healed him…right there in front of the same crowd that passed by the poor guy every day.  Jesus entered into the man’s pain, heard him out, had compassion on him, then helped him without giving him a lecture.

As a father, I have plenty of opportunities to learn more about listening daily.  Admittedly, I am a work in progress when it comes to listening and displaying Christ-like compassion.  My desire is to not just listen with my ears, but to try and listen below the surface of what is really being said (or demonstrated). It isn’t easy. In fact it’s downright difficult (almost impossible at times). I think the primary reason is because I want to “fix” things as quickly as they arise without entering the pain with my son. There is always a deeper layer that needs to be excavated, to be exposed to the light, addressed, healed.  Those deeper layers can only be accessed by way of compassion and understanding and by being a good listener.  When we jump right into lecture mode we heap layers of dirt on top of the already existing ones, thereby inhibiting any previously made progress.  I know I have likely messed it up as much as I’ve gotten it right.  So I am thankful that God’s grace supersedes my mistakes in these cases.

This same thought also reigns true in society in general, we are so quick to get our view points across.  We want to be heard. We want to impress or demonstrate what we know. We want to be right. However, I think sometimes, for me anyway, really listening and trying to understand someone, seeing things through their perspective is super hard because it also makes me vulnerable. It makes us open up to the idea that maybe someone is hurting…and that isn’t safe to us. Maybe it strikes a nerve in our own lives or activates some fear we have buried 100 feet below our social media persona. So we put up walls…Limits on how much we can tolerate before we either back off, change the subject, go off on a rant about why “they” are wrong, or lob words of wisdom in someone’s direction.  However, it is meaningless to try and encourage someone when they feel they have not been heard.  How well we listen will directly determine the weight of our words.

We live in a society that is absolutely starved for compassion, yet very few desire to give it. It’s hard.  It is hard to listen to someone else’s pain without interjecting. Listening and saying nothing is a disciplineWe tend to want to minimize the relevancy of the pain others might be walking throughHowever, we lose our compassion when we minimize someone else’s pain.  Jesus didn’t look at the suffering blind man and think, “Oh come on, your life is not THAT bad man”.  He didn’t rush by and say, “Be healed…bye”.  He stopped.  He listened.  He let the man use his voice.  He entered into that man’s pain.  He responded with compassion.

Whether it’s in our families, at work, our perspective on race relations, religion, politics, or some other area of our lives, we could all benefit from practicing the discipline of listening.  I think we should all decided to start approaching people with a little more compassion and a little less judgement.  If we can start to open up to the idea that we might not have all the practical answers and just be okay with entering someone else’s pain so that Jesus can be the answer, it can actually cause healing to take place in them (and ourselves). Listening goes a long way toward healing.

Lord, help me to never be a contributor to a compassion-less society.  I want to be your hands extended.  Teach me to be a good listener.  Please remind me to not rush past someone’s hurt. I want to be compassionate as you are compassionate, because I want to see wounds healed. Amen.

Move Without The Ball

I have always loved sports.  I enjoy them in general, but grew up playing a lot of basketball, so it holds a special place in my heart.  The great thing about sports, especially team sports, is the invaluable life lessons you learn along the way.  Having so much experience around the game of basketball causes me to look at games a little differently.  When most people think of basketball they primarily think of scoring points. For me, one of the greatest lessons I learned throughout the years is the importance of moving without the ball.  I think this mentality can be translated over into our lives and how we live it as well.

Basketball is obviously a team sport, and for a team to be as successful as it can be, it must involve all players doing their job, no matter what it is.  Yes, your team needs to be able to score, and it certainly helps to have dominate players on your team who are skilled at scoring baskets.  However, it is rare that a single player on your team can consistently carry your team to victory on their own while his or her teammates just stand around and watch.  Consistent team scoring and ultimately consistent team winning will only occur when every offensive player decides to move without the ball…Even if it means they might not actually touch it.

Moving without the ball is a decision.  It is a mentality.  I am not talking about moving for movements sake, but moving with purpose.  Strategic movement.

When the coach calls in a play from the sideline, you are expected to run that play.  For the play to be successful, as stated before, all five players must move with purpose.  If half your teammates are standing around watching, the play will break down very quickly.  Moving without the ball creates spacing, it causes the defense to get out of position, it creates mismatches that the defenders can’t adjust to, it gives your team open looks at the basket, while being stagnant produces nothing but turnovers.

Stagnation is your opponent’s best friend.  If you aren’t moving, the defense doesn’t have to worry about you. You are no threat. Your position becomes irrelevant and they do not have to defend against you. At that point, they can focus on double teaming your teammates.  The enemy of our souls wants to paralyze our offense.  He wants us to believe we have nothing to contribute to the offense if we aren’t scoring the baskets.  He wants to demoralize us and minimize our significance…and he is really good at this.

It is human nature for us to want to stand around if we don’t have the ball. Maybe we sulk a little bit if we aren’t scoring all the baskets. Maybe we are not as motivated if we know we aren’t going to be the one to have the points show up in the stat sheet next to our name.  However, we must remember that it is not about us individually as much as it is about the team. We are all a part of a greater collective.  Sometimes it isn’t glamorous.  Moving without the ball will not show up in the newspaper.  The masses may not recognize your contribution to the offense, but ultimately your team will be much more successful in the long run.

I think in a practical sense, we could apply some of these same principles to what we do where we work, in our families, in our careers, or just in life in general.  How many times have I found myself sulking because I felt invisible in the offensive scheme…pulling levers behind the scene just to ensure my teammate would get an easy dunk?  Sometimes, trotting around without much of a sense of purpose in the offense and just going through the motions, ultimately becoming more of a hindrance to the execution of the play than a contributor.

We cannot just stand there and wish we had the ball. We must get moving, get open, position ourselves to receive a pass, go set a screen then roll to the basket, position ourselves for a rebound, go get a garbage basket.  Be a decoy and be OK with it.  Draw the defense toward ourselves and allow our teammates to get an easy shot.

You may get an easy basket yourself just by moving and wearing out the defense or simply because you were where you were supposed to be. But if not, let’s be OK with not scoring ourselves but being happy that our teammate did.

What matters in the end is a W in the win column, not points next to your name.  Yeah, sometimes your team may lose a game, but knowing you played your role at 100% is all you can do.  Sometimes you may drop the ball or run the wrong play.  You might actually be the one that caused a turnover, but don’t hang your head and let that mistake affect the next play.  Refocus and keep going.  As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on…”.

As followers of Jesus…we go into the game knowing we have the winning strategy. Our coach calls nothing but winning plays. Let’s execute the plays and move with purpose. Let’s not help the devil out by standing around feeling sorry for ourselves that nobody noticed what we did.

Your contribution may not show up on a highlight reel, but I guarantee you The Coach notices. When you just keep doing what He tells you to do, you won’t really leave the floor at all except to take necessary breathers from playing so hard.

Move with purpose and don’t let the enemy minimize it.  When he comes taunting you, just point to the scoreboard.  Remind him that you already have the W and he will always keep that L.

Lessons From a Failed Flight

I saw the small bird out of the corner of my eye as we pulled into the driveway. It was laying at the foot our evergreen tree surrounded by my overgrown lawn with its mouth gaping so wide-open that it could’ve swallowed a golf ball. Based upon the fact that a petite, yet sturdily constructed nest remained in the tree above, I concluded that this was most likely the result of a failed flight attempt.

My first thought was to try and figure out a way to put him back in the nest. The bird’s vulnerability out in the open made me nervous for its safety. As I looked around, I spotted its parent perched on the corner of the neighbor’s metal gutter with a beak full of worms, waiting for me disappear so it could deliver the food to its awkwardly positioned baby. I knew I shouldn’t interfere, so I backed off and went inside.

After putting my things down, I couldn’t help but peak out my son’s bedroom window to watch the bird be fed. As I looked on, the adult bird swooped down and placed the worms it had collected into baby’s mouth, which was still as open as it was when I discovered it. Watching this happen time and time again during the course of about a week caused me to draw parallels to our relationship with our caring and faithful God.

When we initially noticed the almost naked bird, I found myself tempted to blame the bird for jumping before it was ready, but how often do we do the same thing? I mean, there is after all something to be said about taking a leap even if you weren’t quite ready. The potential dangers on the ground are real, but so are the ones that come from just sitting in the nest. Either way, it makes it easier to leap when you know someone is there to sustain you, even if you hit the ground with a jarring thud.

The thing that stood out to me most was the baby’s response to its situation. I’m sure it was scared. Stirred from the shelter of its warm nest, completely vulnerable, and unable to help itself, its wings and legs still too under-developed to shift into a less exposed position, the bird knew how to do only one thing: Trust.

All it had was a cry and a confidence that when it opened its mouth, provision and sustenance would come. All it knew to do is the same thing it did when it was in the nest. It instinctively knew if it just sat still with his mouth open that it would receive the necessary nourishment just like it always had.

Over the next week, I would find the little bird further and further from its original landing spot. As its strength increased, so did its distance from our yard until finally, it was gone. I would like to think it’s the same bird I’m watching soar above me even as I write this. Its caretaker never wavered in its diligence to see to it that the baby was growing and fed continuously. The parent never quit on it just because it had a failed flight attempt.

If you’ve ever taken a risk and jumped only to hit the ground like a rock, you aren’t alone. Just because you had a failed flight attempt doesn’t mean you will never fly. Just because you failed to soar doesn’t mean you aren’t a bird. You are a bird. You will fly when it’s time. Just stay put, cry out, open up and receive. Nourishment will come. You’re Father knows where you are. Be still and know.

Psalm 46:10-11 AMP
“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower].

Isaiah 40:31 NLT
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.