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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.

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