Flying Fear

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“That bird does not want to eat you.”

Mango squawked his disagreement. Our moody Sun Conure perched on his homemade wooden stand on the lanai, the relentless Florida sun pressing through the screen, even in early April.

Mango had just enjoyed a warm lanai shower, via the hose, and now anxiously watched the dark brown bird gliding overhead. We live near a large cluster of woods, and various birds and creatures visit our bird feeder all times of the day and night.

Vultures often fly overhead, long jagged feathers outlined against the bright blue sky. I wonder if they see our dog’s battered, stuffed animal toys dotting our fenced backyard and inspect them to make sure they’re not potential meals. ūüôā

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But whenever the vultures appear, Mango sets up a loud cry, his purring warning cackle followed by loud squawks. No matter if I stand beside him and reassure him, scratch his head, or offer to hold him (all on the lanai), he’s done. He wants inside, soaking wet or not.

His fear of the huge birds overwhelms him to the point he can’t function, despite the fact that I’m right there, vultures don’t eat live animals, and he’s safe inside the screened lanai.

Fear. 

Fear has a big place in my life. Too big, at times. I detest it because I’m familiar with its crippling hold on my heart and actions. How many times has it held me back from stepping out to obey the Lord in something outside my comfort zone, or kept me from trying something new.

Fear keeps us frozen in place, or running backward. And that’s the opposite of God’s plans for us.

I appreciate 2 Timothy so much. The Apostle Paul’s words to young, beloved son in the Lord Timothy have kept fear at bay many times in my life.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (1:7) 

If you have vultures flying overhead–know they’re not a threat. Don’t be fearful.

You’re already protected under the shadow of the Almighty, believers. You are privileged to dwell in the secret place of the Most High. ‚̧ And that’s the best place to be.¬†

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The Osprey and the Fish

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Traffic trickled along US-301, impatient moms in mini-vans and battered utility trucks bracketing the two lanes beside me. It was a quarter to three, and I had to get gas before picking up the boys at 3:15.

Up ahead, the Alafia River crisscrossed 301, a¬†bronze waterway that¬†emptied into¬†Tampa Bay¬†to the west and bled inland to the east.¬†Lightposts stood at attention, skinny towers marking the¬†road’s edge, every third¬†or fourth pole topped with¬†a messy,¬†stick-strewn bird’s¬†nest.

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Ospreys gliding overhead, hugging the river’s edge,¬†were a commom sight on this stretch of 301. The white and brown winged-creatures¬†gained easy access to fish in the river from the tall vantage points.

As I slowed at a red light, a flurry of animal-sized movement caught my attention directly to my left. An enormous bird flew beside my truck, only a few few higher than my driver side window.

A human-eye view of a glorious example of God’s winged creation.

While I admired his wingspan and elegant flight (and tried desperately not to bump into the car slowing in front of me), the reason for his low altitude became clear.

Inside the grasp of his razor-sharp talons, a struggling silver fish glimmered in the sunlight on its way to feed hungry chicks in a nest high above.

But right then, the powerful bird flew low, the burden it carried weighing down its normally-graceful flight. And the Holy Spirit pin-pricked my heart.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth,

Neither faints nore is weary.

His understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

For our families, for me personally, it’s¬†been a difficult, sad¬†year.¬†There have been blindingly painful losses (my sister-in-law) and shocking goodbyes (the sudden¬†death of our family dog).

Add in a couple writing disappointments, some¬†parenting trials and one 40th birthday, and it’s a recipe for a year I’m eager to put in my rear-view mirror.

God in His mercy and grace carried us through, and we’re grateful for His comfort and the comfort and prayers of others.

Still, the burden of loss and my escalating worry about a¬†recent¬†health issue¬†have made¬†me feel like that Osprey–low-flying through life,¬†burdened with a twenty-pound Snook of worry and fear. Are you feeling that way, too?

But those who wait on the Lord…

As the Osprey finally ascended,¬†curving toward the blue sky and its hungry chicks, God’s gentle peace gripped my heart. I pray it grips yours, too.

…will renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles…

If you’re barely airborne right now, skimming muddy earth because of heavy burdens and¬†slippery fear, look to the Lord. He will renew your strength.

Wait on Him. He is faithful, and His mercy is everlasting.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

(Psalm 100:5)