Eagles are fascinating birds. They are mentioned in the Bible over thirty times and can teach us a lot about family life. First of all, they mate for life with a bird of the opposite sex and they raise their young together as a couple.
They live to be approximately sixty years old and midway through their lives (probably when they are done with their child-raising) they go through a renewing process which gives them strength to make it through the rest of their lives.
While in the parenting phase of life, when an eagle believes her young are ready to leave the nest, she stirs the nest and basically pushes the babies out of it one at a time. She flies above the babies to show them how to fly.
As parents, we keep our kids in the nest until it’s time for them to fly. Their time will come…although some days it seems it never will. Each child is unique and his or her time may be at a different point in life than another child’s or a friend’s child. Some are ready to head off to college away from home at eighteen and others will thrive by staying home and attending a local college or working for a while and discovering his or her calling.
Letting go is hard but can be manageable as we gradually let our young test the “air” of life to see if readiness has arrived. Little bursts of flying help strengthen the wings but the safety of the nest is always nice to come back to if one has to.
I learned something the other day about eagles that fascinated me and that I found applicable to parenthood. If the baby eagle falls and doesn’t seem to know how to fly, the mother flies underneath it and catches it so that it doesn’t die!
Deuteronomy 32:10-12 says: …He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft…
Having just had my oldest child fly the nest (no, I did not push her out), I’ve felt a little like the mother eagle. My child is on her own but rarely a day goes by that I don’t talk to her or text with her about the things going on in her life. Sometimes she just needs to bounce an idea off of me. Other times she needs advice. Other times she needs help or just a good cry.
When I read this about the mother eagle, I saw myself. Swooping down. Letting my child fly on her own. Yet being there to catch her if she falls too hard.
I know I will do the same when my second child officially flies the nest. Until then, he tests the air and returns to the nest daily for reinforcement and encouragement.
And is this not exactly what our Lord Most High does for us? He parents us. Guides us. Teaches us. And sometimes when we are lagging behind a bit on the next step in life He pushes us out of the nest. But He is always there flying above us and with us to teach us what to do. If we stumble and begin to fall, He swoops down and lifts us up on His wings just like an eagle.
What comfort we can take in knowing that we have the ultimate example of a parent to guide us as we parent our own.
Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, social media junkie, and a former homeschooling mom who loves to share God with others, while sharing her life experiences with them. She is a member of the ACFW and a graduate from the Christian Writers Guild writing course. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance, that is. She is passionate about purity and sexual integrity. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara). She is polishing her novels To Laugh Once More and After the Raging Storm.