When I gave my life to Christ in 2004, I remember how broken and needy I was. With my addiction struggles in particular, I remember how incapable I was of living life on my own. Instead of allowing God’s mercies to be new every morning, I vowed to fix myself on my own with a fresh start every morning, but quickly found myself falling into the same habits over and over again.
Through the grace of God, I surrendered my life to Him and so began a healthy dependency; a dependency on Him. He provided my nourishment. He offered me His protection, grace, forgiveness, love and a whole lot more. When you come to realize how empty you are, it feels amazing to fill up on this incredible source of good.
This need for nourishment reminds me of baby birds in the nest. Baby birds are raised in the nest. This is where they are cared for and fed. It’s where they “fill up”, grow their feathers and learn to steady their feet. Most baby birds stay in the nest for about ten days before learning to fly.
When I gave my life to Christ, I came to the nest for nourishment when I was featherless, filling up on this source of good while receiving complete love, care, and protection. Remember, the baby bird physically cannot care for itself, so this is where it stays for a while. So this is where I stayed for a while too.
Perhaps I stayed here much longer than others, but I was happy and content with a whole new outlook on life: happy and content in God’s nest and on the receiving end of all the good He offers.
I was no longer in active addiction, I was getting healthier and I stayed away from negative influences on my life. Life was looking good from up on high and I was content to stay there. But it was clear that God was preparing me for solid food. I was growing too big for the nest and the milk was no longer enough nourishment for my soul.
Here’s what I find really interesting. Baby birds are ready to leave the nest several days BEFORE they can actually fly. Dropping from the nest, they flutter on the ground, strengthening their wings and legs as they continue to grow. While still a bit lost and wobbly, they start to wander and explore their surroundings. The good news is that “mom and dad” are still well aware of their whereabouts and continue to provide food and guidance.
There comes a time when our Heavenly Father calls us to leave the nest. This by no means implies that we are to do life on our own without Him. Nor does it mean that He has abandoned us. He knows exactly where we are and is just as present as before, though this time, with His help, we are learning to fly.
This was part of my growth as a Christian: moving from the comfortable to the courageous.
I could tell you story after story of how many wobbly moments I’ve had when called out of the nest by our good Father. I remember being afraid when I took my first job in sobriety. I had little confidence in myself and was just scared of the unknown. I also stumbled a bit, but eventually, I got my wings in flight.
Then, there were my friendships. Most of my friendships at that time were with people in recovery because it was more comfortable and safe, but eventually, God called me out of the nest beyond that too. And one of my favorite “out of the nest” moments is when I moved to NYC for a season:
“God, I will never live in NYC. I can’t handle it. It’s too overwhelming.”
And the next thing I know, I am living in NYC!
As I was just getting “comfortable” with city life, I found myself yet again, out of the nest when I was asked to do the Prayers of the People at my church there.
“How many people attend this service?” I asked. “Oh, about 4,000” they said. This is not quite what you want to hear when you grew up having a paralyzing fear of public speaking!
But the comforting love, care, and protection of the nest that I didn’t want to lose? I never did actually lose it. It came right with me on my wings.
Let’s not be afraid to be called out of the nest and into courageous moments that bring Him glory. After all, we’re not made to be in the nest forever, we’re made to be in the kingdom.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6Deuteronomy 31: 6
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