“ON EAGLES’ WINGS MINISTRIES”
“Why God disrupts our comfort zone.”
In this study we want to break away from what we’ve been engaged in: “When shall these things be”? This particular subject is so vast, we can spend many months gleaning from its pages and ending up with a storehouse of magnificent treasures to warm the heart and even save the soul. But the other day the thought came to me, how people love their comfort zone. No matter how engaged and giving we are in public, whether it be at the PTA, or at the meeting of the Civic League, or at the Workshop on Bible Prophecies at the Hilton Hotel, or even at a Camp Meeting in the Ozarks, when it is all over, we retreat to our individual comfort zone.
Speaking in a general sense, our comfort zone is where we can kick off our shoes and relax, where “I can really be me” and the world seems to drift by in the far distance. We are a people of habits whether we admit it or not. Many of us are comfortable shopping at certain stores, and we love to travel over a certain route. Ladies do their hair at a beauty salon where they are most comfortable with the proprietor and with the sort of customers that come in. We do business where we are most comfortable, and in making new friends, we tend to gravitate to those with whom we are most comfortable. When we are faced with threats and major uncertainties, we retreat to our own, personal comfort zone.
Without getting too mysterious, it seems illogical to think that God would walk by and disrupt the only place (or state of mind) where we can find solace: where we can feel sheltered from the terror by night and from the arrow that flieth by day; from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the destruction that wasteth at noonday. Ps. 91: 5-6. After all, God wants us to have peace! Jesus said so, and offered us his very own brand of peace that is an everlasting peace. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Bad things happen to good people?” In this study we will visit the practicalities that lie behind the concept of God interrupting our comfort zone. We are told that to everything there is a time and a season, and we can add, that, to everything there is a reason. Unfortunately for many of us, the reason cannot always be easily seen or calculated. The song writer came along and exhorted us in his own words: “Farther along we’ll know all about it. Farther along we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine! We’ll understand it all by and by.”
When tragedy strikes or there is a major natural disaster, they usually bring in experts on television to explain why. The most foolish question I have heard is after a brutal murder like the shooting at Columbine School, an expert is asked on television, “What do you think was going through the mind of the shooters?” It isn’t like we can take the shooters to a lab and scan the workings of their brain! They are also dead! One such expert said, “We might never know the answers to things such as these.” Can you give a reason for all the things that occurred in your life? In fact, can you say that all of these things were justified? Don’t we sometimes feel that we are getting more than we deserve? Don’t we sometimes feel that life has been unkind to us, and some feel that God’s hand upon us were just a little bit too heavy? We hesitate to come right out and blame God, but sometimes we feel that we have been dealt a bad hand—as the phrase goes! We don’t often speak these thoughts out aloud, and we try not to let them linger too long in our innermost being, but we cannot help but see and observe when our comfort zone is being interrupted and we don’t like it one bit. Who does? In many instances in the bible, God uses natural things around us to show forth his actions and reasons for those actions. We are told in Pro.6:6; “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise.” Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field how they grow.” What is the main object here? The main object is that we can, and should learn important lessons in how God deals with us by studying the lessons portrayed in the lives of ants, spiders, ravens, doves, sparrows, eagles, and a wide range of living things around us. Jesus was a dynamic teacher because he used humble, living objects with which the common or unlearned person can identify.
Are there lessons for us in the lives of creatures around us? And if God thought of them with so much importance as to record them in his holy writ, shouldn’t we give the most earnest heed to what they teach us? A wise man chimed in with this narrative! “The ants are a people not strong, yet the prepare their meat in the summer” (check out the lesson) The conies are but a feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks, (big lesson here) The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; the spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” Pro.30:25-28. It seems to me that whatever curve our lives take, we can quickly glance at natural things around us and learn great lessons. Sometimes, I think that in our sincere effort to delve into the deep mysteries of the Spirit realm, we completely miss much of what God has already placed well within our grasp.
Consider the sincerity and solemnity with which Jesus casually pointed to the lilies of the field and the sparrows and said, “Not one sparrow falleth to the ground without your heavenly Father knowing about it.” But the thought goes further than that! Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your heavenly Father letting it fall. This changes the picture and should change our personal view of the matter, for it could not have fallen without our heavenly Father letting it fall. If that be the case, we go from blame to accepting the fact that God must have had a reason in this matter. Thus, we shift our attention from the sparrow on the ground, to the Master out of whose hand it fell. We end up not seeing disaster but purpose! Thank you Jesus! Can you follow this to see how a simple act of what we could deem to be a disaster, can ultimately lead us into a more realistic place of understanding God’s act and God’s will in us and for us?
We shift our focus to the eagle of which we will speak for a while, beginning with the observations God confronted Job with. “Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Job 39: 27-29. From the first line of this passage we can join in and sing; “Lord lift me up and let me stand, by faith on heaven’s table land; A higher plane than I have found, Lord lead me on to higher ground. My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay; though some may dwell where these abound, my prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
As we envision the eagle dwelling high above the ground, secure in the crag of the rock from whence she can see afar off, what truth comes to mind? The story goes that a chicken and a young eaglet were both placed in the same coop, with both having a perch to stand on. While the chicken busied itself scratching through the muck and trash for any little morsel of food that possibly got lost there, the eaglet stood on her perch looking upward through the mesh wire. All of its being continued to zero in on where her home lies: high up in the rocks. The chicken was happy to make do with what laid under its feet among the rubbish. By nature, the eaglet set her eyes in the skies hoping for the day when she would break loose from the coop and make her way back home as if directed by an inner voice that pointed to its home on high.
This brings to mind the scripture that says: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col.3: 1-2. This grandiose picture of the life and habits of the eagle brings to mind another truth founded in scripture. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Eph.2: 5-6. Ideally, from this vantage point, much like an eagle, we can see afar off; in other words, we see things from a heavenly perspective rather than the way all other earthlings do.
Away back in ancient times the eagle was already being referred to as symbols of truth. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isa. 40: 31. “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Ps. 103: 5. Can we begin to appreciate the abundance of lessons that God has placed around us in what secularists call “nature”? The little eaglet though held in the same captive environment as the chicken, refused to climb down into the muck and dig out its dinner, for that is not its nature. We can say that it was born with a different set of genes; different DNA to say the least.
As we continue to study the life of an eagle, we will observe how she invades and disrupts the lives of her young eaglets. This will also focus on why God, MUST, often times disrupt our comfort zone. As we just said, away back in ancient times the eagle was referred to as symbols of truth. To add to that, we notice that in about B.C. 1451 Moses wrote concerning the eagle: “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no stranger with him.” Deut. 32: 11-12. In a nutshell, we are shown a picture of the most important phase in an eagle’s life, and the same process applies to each and every one of us, even though for ages we did not recognize it. Because of ignorance to this particular process we ended up beating ourselves down into the ground. We threw up our hands in dismay and even wished to die all because we could not understand why God would willfully disrupt our comfort zone. In truth, for many of us, we did not think it was God at all, we blame ourselves or a big bad devil. So let us examine how and why eagles disrupts the lives of the little eaglets who are snug in their nests, awaiting the next visit from mom and dad with food for their hungry stomachs.
Alas, one day, mom came along, and instead of sweet, wonderful, food, she begins to stir up the nest by pulling out and away, all the soft stuffing. She continues the process until the nest becomes too uncomfortable for the eaglets to feel at home; instead, they become agitated and restless. Why is the mother eagle doing this? Because she senses that it is time for the youngsters to learn how to fly, but as long as the nest is snug and comfortable, they will make no effort to get out. She flutters her wings over the young ones, a process that gets them moving out from the nest. At this point they must be wondering, “What has come over mommy? Why is she doing this to us?”
One by one, she sets her wings and takes on an eaglet for a flight into the deep blue sky. She soars on high, perhaps to the delight of the youngster on her back. What a scenery! Wow! I thought my nest was the world, but by George, this is the world! Suddenly, mother eagle flips her wings causing the little eaglet to fall off into open space. As the little eaglet continues to fall, it flaps its wings frantically with loud screeching sounds. Just before it crashes to the ground, mother eagle swoops beneath and once again has the little fellow safely on her wings. She circles around several times, giving the little bird time to compose and reassure itself. As if out of the blue, mother eagle once again flips her wings and the little eaglet begins to fall toward the ground. But once again the little fellow flaps its wings as if in futility, not realizing that in the process it is learning to fly. Once again, before it crashes to the ground, mother eagle swoops under and collects the little bird on to her wings. She continues the process until she sees the little eaglet actually flying. She continues the process with each eaglet until each one has learned to fly.
Every once in a while there is an eaglet who refuses to learn how to fly. After the mother eagle tries several times in swooping under the falling bird only to find that it won’t learn to fly, one last time she lets the youngster fall, and this time it falls to the ground and the mother eagle flies away with a woeful screeching sound, never to look back. The eagle does not stir up her nest just to be mean. She doesn’t pull out the soft stuffing simply to replace it later on. She disrupts their comfort zone because the time for learning to fly has come and as long as they live in comfort they will never take to the skies. To the unsuspecting little birds, pulling away the soft stuffing must be uncomfortable and unwarranted. And why is mom fluttering her wings so wildly over us today? Not only have we become grossly uncomfortable, but now her wings are about to knock us completely out of our nest. In fact, our nest is no more a place of comfort, so we have no choice but to relocate ourselves. As they move out, this is where mother eagle offers her wings for a ride and the “learning to fly” process begins. Have you ever made yourself comfortable in a job that you actually loved and had just received a promotion with a raise of pay, when, suddenly, everything began to go wrong. Before you know it, you are without a job. How many times as far as you can remember, the soft stuffing has been taken out from under you, and life became a major struggle all over again? It is not a matter of whether these things will happen. The bigger question is; how do we adjust to these changes? Do we see the positive at work even when it is not really in sight? If we see ONE God at work in our lives, we can say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Job.13: 15. Or we say, “I know whom I have believed and I’m persuaded that he is able.” 2 Tim.1: 12.
A profound truth is embodied within the context of the next passage of scripture, that we seldom hear preached upon or taught in bible class on Wednesday nights in our local churches (Assemblies.) We now have cause to shift our focus from eagles, ants, and chickens to wine making in a sense. “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.” Jer. 48: 11-12.
At first glance one can safely assume that settling on one’s lees is not a good thing, and being emptied from vessel to vessel seems to be the correct process, but we need more explanation because the subject of lees has so seldom been preached or taught. How can the lay-person understand these two verses of Jeremiah 48? (11-12) The Hebrew word for lees is sheh’-mer and it means “something preserved” “the settling of wine” and dregs. Unger’s Bible Dictionary has the following explanation of lees. “Wines on the lees are wines which have been left to stand upon their lees after the first fermentation is over, which have thus thoroughly fermented, and have been kept a long time, and which are then filtered before drinking; hence wine both strong and clear; in which case it was used figuratively for the full enjoyment of blessedness in the perfected kingdom of God. Pay much attention to what is said next for it carries great import to the people of God. Allowed to remain upon the lees, the wine became thick and syrupy, and symbolized the sloth, indifference, and gross stupidity of the ungodly.”
We notice that in its early stages, wine needs to settle on its lees, a process that contributes to the fermentation of the wine. Let us use another lesson given in Matthew. We are told that Jesus would come as a fire with a fan in his hand with which to cleanse his floor. The fire was to burn all the chaff, and this word chaff to many, refers to the unsaved world, but not one bit so. The chaff and the wheat grow on the same stalk, and in its infancy the chaff serves as protection to the wheat. Over time, we tend to hold on to the chaff. It has been our protector for so long, we hate to let it go, so Jesus sends his fire to consume the chaff and thus, thoroughly cleanse his floor. So it is with lees as we just noted in the exposition given above. In the early stages of wine production, it is needful for the wine to settle on the lees to aid the fermenting process. But as the wine gets closer and closer to perfection, it needs to be poured from vessel to vessel, otherwise it settles on its lees and become thick and seemingly full of dregs.
The scripture is saying that Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees. Who among us do not enjoy our first years of the New Life in a new family with moral and spiritual support at our finger tips? Going to meetings and ending each one with warm hugs and friendly handshakes mark our early years in our walk as Christians. Like the early disciples right after Pentecost, they went daily from house to house breaking bread and praising God. If they had continued in that form of activity, they would soon be settling on their lees. Being poured from vessel to vessel seems to be a part of the process, but it suggests a great amount of disruption to our comfort zone. It must be disconcerting to say the least, that just about the time we are settling in and getting used to our newly found place in God, we are poured into something quite different. As we said earlier, as a people of habits, we love to dwell in what we are comfortable with, be it our hairdresser, our grocery store, or family doctor, or even the route we travel daily to and from work. On the flip side of the coin, we become apprehensive of the unknown
But listen to what God said by the mouth of his prophet: “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known.” Isa. 42: 16. The wine being poured from vessel to vessel does not weaken or diminish the quality of the product, but rather, it serves to cleanse away all dregs and produce a finished product that is fit for the king’s table and his honored guests. More often than not, the experience of learning to fly, or being poured from bottle to bottle, generates great feelings of unpleasantness in us, and we are even driven to the edge of doubt and unbelief, not willingly but because more often than not, we are not sure of what’s happening in our world. We cannot grow up and be productive, if, like Moab, we have been at ease from our birth into the family of God. I think even God himself will look upon us with pity and say: “Son/daughter, I wish there was another way to make you grow, but this is the only way.”
From eagles and other birds, and wine making, we now take a look at cake baking, and this should be tasty to all our lovely ladies in the faith. But before you put your aprons on, take out your mixing bowls, and your carousels bearing all your favorite spices, let us put a finishing touch on the idea of lees. We read the following in Zeph. 1: 12; “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees; that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.” We are given here, a picture of wine that has become stagnated and thickened because it has settled on its lees for too long. Our next scripture is found in Hos. 7: 8; “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned.” When I order eggs, I ask for them to be “over easy” and some say, “sunny side up.” But a cake that is not turned speaks volumes about what should be the finished product. So let us do a little baking from scratch.
In the kitchen, we get all the ingredients together before we begin to blend and stir and taste. We get the flour, the eggs, and several spices such as cinnamon, ground nutmeg, rose water, the essence of vanilla, butter, salt, fine sugar, perhaps regular milk or canned evaporated milk. Some ladies may actually add more of their personal choices to ramp up the flavor. The bible says that we are God’s workmanship (handiwork) created in Christ Jesus, and in preaching I like to say that after we have blended all of the ingredients mentioned above, we don’t call it eggs anymore, even though eggs are in it. We don’t call it butter although butter is in it; we call it cake mix, and the best part is that after all the ingredients are blended into what is now a cake mix, we cannot change our minds and the person who donated the eggs ask for the eggs back, or ask for the flour back. The mixing of ingredients together in ONE is for all times. By the same token, if we were all made as God’s handiwork in Christ Jesus, neither you nor I can change our mind in midstream and take ourselves out of the mix. God already did it—and it stays! Hallelujah! It does not matter how you, or I, or the world feels about it!
Back to the kitchen! After all the ingredients are mixed in, and we taste it to determine the flavor, even if it meets the approval of our taste buds, we cannot offer it as cake to the family. Why? Because it has not been placed in the heated oven to be baked to perfection! Don’t forget that it is the baking process that brings it to perfection and makes it fit for the master’s table. What are the ingredients that God has added to us as a cake mix in his hand? 2nd Peter 1: 5-8 lays before us the formula for the cake God is preparing before the world. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things (ingredients) be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let us say that we possess the seven ingredients mentioned above; we can liken it to a cake mix that we have mixed by vigorous stirring and blended to taste. But God cannot serve us to the world like a delicious piece of cake for dessert; why? Because we have not gone through the baking process! The flavor is just right! But, alas! We are still raw—uncooked and unfit to be served at large! Now, stay with me in the kitchen! While we are spicing and blending the cake mix, we are also heating the oven, and when the taste is just right, we reach down and put the cake mix inside, set the timer and walk out of the kitchen. Now, notice this bit of truth! The cake mix cannot argue about going into the oven; or how hot the oven should be; and how long the baking process should last. All of these details are in the hands of the person now called the baker!
In frying dumplings or ripe plantains for breakfast, it is customary to fry one side lightly brown, then turn it over and fry the other side also. This ensures that one side isn’t coked while the other side is uncooked. It would seem to be the lesson being taught concerning Ephraim as a cake unturned. God will not use a half baked product to bring him glory, because he doeth all things well. The baking process is likened unto “trial by fire” and going through it once is painful enough, letting alone having to go through it a second time. But we could easily say that once is only for one side of the cake, and it has to be turned over and continue to be baked. We are warned by Peter to look for the fiery trials which are to try us, and the fact that is designed to TRY us and not destroy us, we can be confident that he who has begun a good work in us, will continue to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ our Lord to whom be glory for ever and ever—Amen. God bless you all richly!
Royce O. Kennedy