In his book "Run with the Horses," Eugene Peterson tells how he saw a family of birds teaching their young to fly. Three young swallows were perched on a dead branch that stretched out over a lake. One adult swallow got alongside the chicks and started shoving them out toward the end of the branch, pushing, pushing, pushing until the end one fell off. Then somewhere between the branch and the water below, the wings started working, and the fledgling was off on his own.
The adult swallow then repeated this tactic again, pushing, pushing, pushing until the next young bird fell off and had its first flight.
The third young swallow was determined not to be bullied. When the parent swallow came pushing, pushing, pushing, the young bird refused to let go. He even hung upside down on the branch hoping not to be bullied off.
The parent bird was without mercy. He pecked at the desperately clinging claws until it was more painful for the poor chick to hang on than risk the insecurities of flying. The grip was released, and the inexperienced wings began pumping. The mature swallow knew what the chick did not--that it would fly, that there was no danger in making it do what it was perfectly designed to do.
Birds have feet and can walk. Birds have claws and can grasp a branch securely. But flying is what they were designed to do, and not until they fly are they living at their best, graceful and beautiful and free.
In the same way that God created swallows to fly, so He created us to follow His commands and laws. We are not really free until we do what God has made us to do. Only in obedience are we living at our best; only in obedience will we be graceful, beautiful and free.
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 17, 2001
Obedience is seeking God with your whole heart. Performance is having a quiet time because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. Obedience is finding ways to let the Word of God dwell in you richly. Performance is quickly scanning a passage so you can check it off your Bible reading ...read more
Contributed by Richard Jones on Nov 3, 2000
An old American Indian tale recounts the story of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle within. "It is like two dogs fighting inside of us," the chief told them. "There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always wants to do the wrong. ...read more
Contributed by James Wilson on Mar 2, 2001
For thirteen extraordinary days in October of 1962, the world stood on the brink of an unthinkable catastrophe. Across the globe, people anxiously awaited the outcome of a harrowing political, diplomatic and military confrontation that threatened to end in an apocalyptic nuclear exchange between ...read more
Contributed by Johnny Carver on May 12, 2001
As a boy growing up in the country I had heard scary stories about a snake called a "Black Racer" that would chase you. These stories kept me very alert as I walked up and down the gravel roads around where we lived. One day mom asked me to go to the neighbors house and borrow an iron because ours ...read more
Contributed by Melvin Newland on May 15, 2001
F.B. Meyer preached in London, England, while Charles Spurgeon & G. Campbell Morgan were preaching there, too. They were all great preachers, but Spurgeon’s church & Morgan’s church were both bigger than Meyer’s church. And he admitted to being a bit envious of them. So he ...read more