Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Am Thine O Lord"1 (Lyrics)
1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (NIV)
It was thrilling to watch the last two baby robins fledge, or leave their nest. That morning, we had arisen early to turn on the video recorder in anticipation of the big moment. For a while, the fledglings teetered precariously on the edge of the nest, as if hesitant about the big leap. It seemed like they'd never stop wavering, and I found myself somewhat impatient. Then suddenly, at 7 a.m., one took flight, followed by the other. I clapped with glee. The youngsters had fledged; there was no turning back.
While gazing at the empty nest, I realized that our faith journey also involves fledging, the putting behind of childish ways. For example, we must put behind our reliance on human affirmation to guide our choices. We must become free to follow God's destiny for us and to seek His approval alone. As I've been discovering, however, it is hard to surrender our longing for human affirmation and all its benefits. We try to hold the world in one hand and God in the other. Thankfully, this double-minded wavering eventually becomes a strain.
I think of the robins' final days before fledging. They expended enormous energy in their overcrowded nest as they stumbled about and trampled each other; wings flapped; feet scrambled. In the chaos, two babies somehow got nudged out. For me, just watching this process felt straining. Fledging is unsettling business.
That was also true for Fanny Crosby, the 19th-century hymn writer. She was rapidly gaining acclaim as the blind poetess. She'd be invited to functions by political dignitaries to recite her poetry. The headmaster at the School for the Blind where she attended noticed that human validation and praise were swelling her head. So, one day, he called her into his office. He expressed concern that by writing to please her audience, she was chaining down what she needed to fly.
At first, Fanny was shocked and hurt by his criticism. She eventually realized that he was right. Thereafter, she wrote hymns to benefit the common people. She also chose to live in tenement housing among the poor. Friends and family did not approve these choices. But Fanny had fledged, and so her thoughts were free to soar on the wings of the Spirit. Fanny had embraced her teacher's advice: "Think more about what you can be than how you can appear."
What about ourselves? What might we discover if we paid attention to our own thoughts? Do we notice that we're thinking more about how we appear to people than how God sees us? That may be what's robbing our peace, and it's time to put that wavering tendency behind. Fanny Crosby's hymns can help to nudge us onward, such as this prayerful commitment does:
Prayer: "I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, and it told Thy love to me. Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord. Let my will be lost in Thine." Amen.