There is a book by Tony de Mello called Song of the Bird which tells the following story:
A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in the nest of a barnyard hen. The eagle hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of his strong golden wings.
The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked.
“That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth—we’re chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that what he thought he was.
This story reminds me of an old book I used to read at my grandparents’ house which was filled with stories similar to Aesop’s Fables who often used stories of animals to make clever comments about humanity. Jesus used parables to tell stories. Unlike fables, however, parables were stories which used real-life everyday relevant examples to share a spiritual truth. In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son. In many ways, I see Tony de Mello’s story in Luke 15. A young man born into a good family decides to go off to live a new and different life away from the one he had always known. He spends his father’s money, buys all the fun money can buy, and lives in a way which he thought would bring him great pleasure and happiness. When all the money and fun ran out, he found himself destitute and desperate. He hangs his head low and returns to his father’s house ready to be condemned for his actions and, feeling unworthy of his birthright, assigned a new identity as a slave in his father’s house. Instead, he is welcomed back into the family in a loving, merciful embrace.
How many of us are living imposter lives? Born to be free and to enjoy the loving gifts and presence of a good Heavenly Father but having traded that life for a different identity. Pursuing lifestyles that we believe will bring us peace, prosperity, and happiness… pursuing other identities that we can attach to our religion like mismatched train cars linked together along the track.
2 Corinthians 5 says this: 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Once we have put our faith in Jesus, we have accepted him as our King and Savior! The old person is dead in Christ and raised to new life in Him. Paul also tells us in Romans 12 that we are to be transformed and our minds renewed. We are, at the same time, made new in Christ AND in process of being renewed in Him day by day. That means he’s got work he’s doing in you. There are things that you believe about yourself that aren’t true. He wants to rip those things out of you. There are lies you’ve believed that are keeping you stuck and misunderstanding God’s desires. There are things about you that need to be put off so that you can take up what is better and true.
The painful work of discipleship is realizing that you are to ask God to dig deep inside of you, layer by layer, digging through the old you with all your habits, beliefs, memories, hang ups, and preconceived ideas so that he can toss them aside and replace them with new, beautiful, and lasting truths about how YOU are (a son or daughter of God) and who HE is (a loving and good Heavenly Dad).
Spend time this weekend asking God to do work on you. It may be painful. It probably will be. But it’s so good. We are all still living with parts of a false identity keeping us from enjoying the life God intends for us in his Son. Keep asking him to do the work. Seek him in new and refreshed ways. Be ready for some beautiful new things to come into your life.
Trusting His work,
P.S. God so often does some of his best work in us through the lives and voices of others. Don’t miss the opportunity to join a Life Group at White Oak this winter inviting God to do just that. You need it and others need your life and voice, too. Learn more by clicking here.
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