Learning to Live At Rest

I just got in from Tulsa late yesterday and have a lot of backlog to sort through before I leave for Visalia tomorrow. As I was working in my study, some movement caught my eye just outside my window. It was a red-tail hawk cruising by my second story study. That’s not uncommon here since he lives in the eucalyptus tree at the edge of my neighbor’s property. I watch him all the time. But this time he wasn’t alone. A smaller hawk followed behind him and from the looks of things it appeared to me the older hawk was showing the younger one how to fly. (The copyrighted photo at left was taken by my friend, Kent Burgess and is used with his permission.)

I sat back and watched them for a few minutes as they swept back and forth across my back yard and those two gave me a bit of schooling. The older bird cruised easily in the winds of an approaching storm, riding the currents up and down with ease. The younger bird didn’t have a clue how to do that, so he tried to keep up with the bigger bird by constant flapping his wings while he twisted and turned to keep the other one in sight.

The contrast couldn’t have been more pronounced. The older bird was circling in fluid movements, while the younger looked jerky and hesitant. The older one rarely moved his wings while the other beat his frantically trying to keep up. And while I never saw the feet of the older hawk until just before he landed, the younger one kept extending his every few seconds as if trying to find something to hold on to, even though he was not near a tree or any other perch. I assume he would have been far more comfortable on foot than he was on wing.

They landed in the tree a few moments ago and if I could sneak up there, I think the older one would be sitting comfortably and the younger one huffing and wheezing trying to catch its breath. The older one rode the wind; the younger one was always resisting it. What I love about brothers and sisters who have lived this journey for awhile, is that they live at rest in the wind of the Spirit (See John 3). Instead of resisting what God is doing in the circumstances around them, they have learned to flow with him. They’ve learned not to resist the Spirit to stay in their own comfort zone, and have found a new comfort zone in the movement of the Spirit that helps them soar above the capricious circumstances of this world.

Those who haven’t learned to do so, live such frantic lives, driven by their fears and always seeking to find a foothold they feel like they can control. They have yet to learn that the wind is their friend and rather than resisting it, they can learn to ride it. That’s what I loved about this young bird this morning. He was out there doing it, even though he would have been far more comfortable sitting in a tree. Sure his flight path was erratic and his heart was beating a mile a minute, but he was facing down his fears to learn the joy of being a hawk. Of course it wasn’t fun yet, but it soon will be.

Even the most seasoned saint living at rest in God’s unfolding work today went through that process themselves. No one starts proficient at rest, especially in a Spirit we don’t control. But it is possible to learn how to recognize and ride the wind of God’s Spirit as he courses through our lives.

Ask him to show you, and while he does you just might want to find an old bird to keep an eye on so you can see how they do it.