“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
An eagle doesn't seek cover during a storm. Instead, it flies through the storm by learning to rise above it. With a wing span of up to 80 inches, the eagle creates a powerful illustration.
In my carefree childhood, I knew nothing about storms. On warm Sunday afternoons, I fondly remember sailing on our catamaran with my family. In a strong breeze, my father would let my brothers and me hang from the sailboat's center bar that connected the two pontoons. As the boat skimmed across the surface, we loved to drag in the water. My father even taught me how to sail.
But my idyllic childhood changed when the first real storm hit. One day after returning home from middle school, I discovered that my father had suddenly moved out. He abandoned my mother, my two brothers, and me.
New waves of fear, loneliness, and anger pounded against me like one breaker after another. Before I could catch my breath from the first wave, the next incoming wave toppled me over.
With my parent's separation, my entire life changed. Overnight I lost everything I valued. My father rarely came home; during the day, my mother avoided home. At night, one brother and I would sit in the dark crying.
To cope with the storm, I began eating. I would sneak a can of frosting with a spoon and hide them under my bed. Before long, I gained 25 pounds. My food addiction really didn't numb the pain. I only felt more miserable.
For the first time, I began to understand my extreme need for something bigger than myself. With my father gone, the agonizing pain awakened me to a new craving. As a child, I had heard of Jesus Christ. But it took this storm to make me realize that I didn't know Him.
A couple of months later, I knelt alone in my room and prayed, “Jesus, I am sorry for ignoring You. Thank you for dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Please come into my life. And please fix my family.” Through this simple prayer, I traded in a worthless religion for an invaluable relationship.
At 13, I told my pastor about my decision to follow Jesus Christ. Though my parents quit attending church, I continued going. I hungered to learn more about Jesus.
My father did return home during my high school years. But in my first year of college, he divorced my mother. I hated him for being selfish. He broke my heart.
Apart from Jesus, I discovered that there was no real lasting relief from painful memories and bitterness. Though it took years, He began to lead me gently down a path towards forgiveness. And He helped me begin the process of forgiving, especially my dad.
Many times during those turbulent years, I thought the storm would destroy me, and I wanted to be rescued. But Jesus didn't rescue me the way I wanted. My parents still divorced. However, the storms gave me a new perspective and ultimately led me to Jesus. I found hope in the midst of it.
Jesus taught me how to weather fierce storms like the eagle by relying upon Him and clinging to His promise: He won't ever leave me or forsake me. He showed me how to go through the storm, and eventually He even taught me how to rise above it. I learned to soar.
“...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles...”
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)