An old story tells of a man who found a baby eagle and released it in his chicken coop. The eagle learned to scratch for corn and seeds, to strut like a rooster, and to sleep in the hen house. It soon decided that it must be a chicken.
Concerned that it had not learned to fly, the man repeatedly pitched the bird into the air. However, each time it fluttered to the ground and raced to the safety of the hen house. The man finally decided to return the eagle to its roots-- the high mountain where he first discovered the young bird.
As the young eagle surveyed his new surroundings, something awoke within him. A deep stirring told the bird it was made for the skies; it was created to soar over land and sea. It was born to be free. With wings outstretched, it took flight. That day it truly became an eagle.
Like the eagle we are born to be free. Because of God's grace extended to us at the cross, we have been delivered from the life of a cooped up chicken. But too often we are content with living in the chicken coop. Fenced in by fear or guilt, we never learn to soar. Guilt and fear cause us to live the life of a common chicken.
Perhaps some Christians have lived in the coop so long that they have decided they must really be chickens. They have resigned themselves to problems which could be soared above, if only they could remember who they are-- magnificent eagles. The hands of grace beckon us to flight, but our personal guilt draws us back to the chicken coop.
Julia Johnston, in that classic hymn, "Grace Greater Than Our Sin," writes it well:
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold, threaten the soul with infinite loss; Grace that is greater-yes, grace untold- points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
The Apostle Paul made it clear that we who are "in Christ" are a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). Implicit in that declaration is that fact that we have a new identity "in Christ." We are no longer related to Adam and our fallen state, but we are now new in Christ with a new capacity in Christ. We have been reborn to soar.
I am always amazed by the Apostle Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1 in which he states:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints...
It is a profound statement. While we are told in other places in the New Testament that we are "heirs with Christ," here the Apostle Paul prays that our eyes might be opened to see just who we are in Christ. One might say he prays that we might see ourselves as eagles and not chickens.
I believe the Lord desires to set us free to soar as His children, as we come to understand His grace more fully. When we do we will see ourselves not as a chicken, but as an eagle!