High Flyers

Posted on Wednesday 29 July 2009

Because my desk faces a window that faces the street, not a day goes by that I don’t see some kind of mini-drama unfold. (If I had gotten up early enough, I might have been a witness to car theft when my across-the-street neighbors’ Suburban was stolen out of their driveway!) Most days, though, the scenes I see are of the less-than-felonious kind.
 
If their movement catches my eye, I sometimes stop to watch squirrels race one another up and around the huge oak in the front yard whose branches arch more than halfway across the street. They’re fast and they’re fearless. And adorably “twitchy.” My oldest niece, house-sitting for me, observed them from my perch and began referring to one especially twitchy specimen as “Beyoncé-squirrel.” (The next time I watched, I laughed at her reference.)
 
When they’ve raced as high and far as they can, these furry little wanna-be flyers fling themselves off the branches of my tree and into the branches of another next door, or across the street. They don’t hesitate. They just go. I wonder: do they squeeze their eyes shut like I used to when I launched myself off a high dive, or simply catapult wide-eyed, toward their goal? Granted the gaps they bridge aren’t huge, but they’re real gaps nonetheless. 
 
And here’s the oddest thing: I’ve never seen one fall.
 
Squirrels must instinctively know more about the realities of aerodynamics (and gravity) than I know about faith. I seldom jump without hesitating, and I tend to trust the “branch” I’m on way more than the one I’m aiming for. But faith, said the writer of Hebrews, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) And “we walk by faith,” the apostle Paul taught, “not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)
 
How is it, then, that the faith I trusted long ago to save me seems at times too shaky to keep me? How is it that I trust only what I can see more than I trust the One to whom nothing – including my own heart – is hidden?
 
Other branches beckon. And if you and I have enough God-infused momentum, it’s actually easier to launch out and “catch air” in faith than it is to come to a screeching, dangling, death-grip stop.  
 
We come to Christ by faith. We come to be like Him, in the power of his Spirit, the same way. C.S. Lewis said it this way:  The idea of reaching “a good life” without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up “a good life” as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are “done away” and the rest is a matter of flying.
 
Let the daring drama begin.
 
© Leigh McLeroy 2009 

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