Walking in the woods one day, a man found an eagle’s egg, apparently abandoned. He took it and placed it in the nest of one of his chickens, where it eventually hatched. The eaglet grew up as a chicken, scratching at the ground and digging for worms and bugs. He even learned to cluck like the other chickens. Every once in a while, he flapped his wings and flew a few feet into the air, but he never tried to fly any higher than that.
One day, he saw a splendid bird soaring gracefully above him over the landscape. “Who’s that?” he asked the other chickens, Who told him it was and eagle. “What a magnificent bird,” the eagle thought to himself, “Too bad I’m a chicken.”
Speaking to his beloved people God challenged the Israelites:
Forget the former things,
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland. Isa 43:18,19
At this moment in their history, Israel was back in exile and living in Bablyon. Going back to the promised land again would mean facing the ruins of the past. This kind of soul work takes courage and is difficult. It may seem easier just to stay put and die again outside the promised land.
Going back into the rubble created by sin is the only way to recover our real identity as a child of God. In the movie Get Low, Felix Bus is a man who is unable to face his past guilt and so spends 30 years locked in a self imposed exile as a hermit. The only way for him to get free was to confront his past and confess to the one person he had hurt the most, his once girl friend Mattie.
With the help of a funeral director and an old country preacher he manages to gather a crowd for an unconventional funeral party, his own. There he musters the courage to confesses his shameful past. In the end he finds forgiveness for himself and freedom from his prison.
Holding onto the past, whether guilt, or loss, failure, or disappointment can stop us on the path to the promised land. God’s love can set us free if we can only receive it.
Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 1 Mark 2:9