Not long ago, Kevin and I were running at the Mona Reservoir, a large lake-like body of water, surrounded by mountains and lush vegetation — a touch of calm in the chaos of Kingston. In our effort to “shape up” we run a few laps around the reservoir several times a week. We usually go early — between five and six in the morning — to beat the Jamaican heat and get it out of the way. (Let’s be honest, no matter how much of a runner you may be, it always feels good to check it off your list for the day!)
This particular morning, we’d been running just a few minutes when movement caught Kevin’s eye. Stumbling across our path was a panic-stricken bird. It was covered in thorns, and appeared to have flown into some sort of cocklebur bush. The bird kept trying to walk, trying to fly and was unsuccessful at both. Sheathed in thorns, it couldn’t take a step without falling. This only made matters worse, as every fall further embedded the thorns in its little body.
Kevin and I are both fierce animal lovers. Every house we live in comes with a stray cat, which we pseudo-adopt, feed, and introduce to the human world. Living in Jamaica, we have lizards, spiders and roaches galore, but even in my fear I can’t kill them. Instead of a destiny swirling down the toilet, most are captured and freed by my courageous husband (while I cheer on from the dining room tabletop).
All that to say, when we saw this little bird’s dilemma, we both melted. We followed it around a few minutes, trying to devise a rescue mission that wouldn’t involve missing fingers or transmission of the bird flu. Every few minutes we would timidly snatch away a thorny branch, only to be snapped and squawked at. We were beginning to feel like the situation was hopeless — that the bird was destined to be the afternoon snack of a badger or snake— when two more animal lovers came walking our way. These folks were brave. The man gently picked up the bird, the woman held his beak shut with two fingers, and Kevin and I laboriously picked out all the thorns. It took at least half an hour, and as we worked the bird went from flailing and fighting to resting calmly in the man’s hands, as if he knew we were trying to help. When the little bird was finally free, the man set him on the path, and we all watched like proud parents as he took a few steps and flew away.
As we finished our morning run, I couldn’t help thinking how often we act like that little bird. We are encased in thorns — the worries that overwhelm us, the burdens that crush us, the sins that entangle us, the lies that blind us. We desperately try and escape. We’re determined to figure a way out on our own, but the harder we try the more exhausted we become. All the while, God is right there waiting, ready to pick us up and gently remove our thorns. He wants to deliver us from a life of worry and fear. He wants to teach us how to fly. But so often we resist, driven by fear instead of by faith, relying on ourselves because it’s too terrifying to relinquish control. If only we would trust in the goodness of our heavenly Father! Yes, it might hurt a little. The first thorn removed may cause a sting. It might be an arduous and painstaking process, one that leaves us vulnerable and exposed. But once we’re soaring free, we’ll realize it was worth it. The Rescuer made us to fly.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Striving to soar,
Kevin & Cass