This picture is from when I was in third grade. I was in love with wearing tassels that year, & I remember picking out this outfit purposefully for this picture. I don’t have a lot of vivid memories from when I was younger, but one that I do have is standing at the back of the line the day this picture was taken. Having a last name that begins with the letter ‘Z’ often means that I ended up at the back of many lines. They told me to pick out a prop to use in the photo if I wanted one, & without any hesitation, I went straight for the telephone that matched my outfit. I don’t really remember talking on the phone all that much in those days, so I’m not sure why I bee-lined straight to the phone. Looking back on it all now, elementary school sure seemed easy, careless, & free-spirited!
For me, middle school was mostly terrible, as I’ve heard it is for most people. At that point in my life, I was struggling with some pretty dark depression. In fourth grade I was moved to a new town with people who had known each other since elementary school, & who had their little friend groups all planned out. I was most definitely the outsider. I looked different, talked different, & liked different things. I felt like my differences stood out like a sore thumb, & I struggled to make friends. Once high school began, I started to pride myself in being different. I loved to stand out because I broke all the molds of the cliques at school. But still in all of that, I felt alone in my uniqueness. I had a lot of friends, but somehow I still felt vastly misunderstood. I searched high and low for those close connections to the people around me, but only ever came up empty handed.
A few weeks after I graduated high school, the Lord quickly became a part of my life. He totally rocked my little world. In my darkness, God found me. He pierced straight through the numerous walls of protection I had built around my heart. He saw right past all my defense mechanisms & fake smiles. He found me in the wilderness that I had made for myself to live in, & He saved me from living there, secluded & alone, for the rest of my life.
God found me, just like He did in Deuteronomy 32:10-12:
He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
the Lord alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him.
You are the apple of God’s eye. Your life has value & meaning & purpose. He cherishes you, & you are His favorite. And that’s just the thing — He treats each of us as His favorite, even though He loves us all the same. Our God pursues us in our filthiness. He doesn’t just seek after us when we are perfect or righteous in His sight. No, He pursues us even in the wilderness. Even when we are covered in guilt & shame. Why? Because we are His favorites. He would do anything for us!
The picture that this passage paints for us is one where God is like our Papa Eagle. He encircles the nest where we are & keeps watch on our lives. He brings us worms when we are hungry, & fortifies the nest when the wind blows out some of the twigs & leaves that hold us up. He does whatever He can to care for us, nurture us, protect us, & help us grow in maturity & knowledge of Him. It can get so cozy & warm in that nest when you have Papa Eagle bringing you all that you need!
And that’s why Papa Eagle begins to stir up the nest. Things begin to shake, & we begin to tweet our little lungs out for our Papa’s help. We think He’s left us all alone to fend for ourselves, when really He’s the One allowing our world to shake. Suddenly, the nest begins to fall apart from the heavy gusts of wind, & we begin to flap our wings. We’ve never tried to fly before; we’ve never needed to leave the nest. But we here we go, attempting to fly for the first time on our own. Quickly falling to the ground, we think, “well, here goes. This is my last breath. Soon I’ll hit the ground & then it’ll all be over. Papa, where did you go? Why did you leave me?”
And in that very moment, as our bodies approach the rocky earth beneath us, Papa Eagle swoops in to catch us. Riding between His strong & powerful wings, we see a glimpse of the world from His point of view. A point of view that exposes the big world around us & the loving & caring nature of our wonderful Father God.