The Focused Life Flight

September 27, 2020

This past week, as I was sitting on my porch, the weirdest thought came to mind: why don’t birds hurt themselves when they’re flying in, out, and among the trees? 

I mean, really!?! Think about it. They’re flying so fast – but they never run into anything!  They don’t crash into tree trunks or get tangled in branches; they don’t catch their wings or tails in the bushes and briars; they just fly with confidence, not suffering any apparent injuries at all; no tippy toeing around, just soaring! How is that possible?

Not sure if my musings were a consequence of too much time on my hands, or of finally having enough time to actually pay attention to what is going on in nature, but I have begun thinking about such things.  

I decided, half in jest, to pose the question on my Facebook page and see if anyone else has thought about such things (nope), or if anyone knew the answer to my question (nope). Still, it was one of those obscure things that is bubbling up these days and gets me thinking.  

So, without any scientific substantiation, I began to wonder if perhaps the reason birds are so good at flying is because they are focused; focused on their purpose (getting from point A to point B) and their goal (a tree branch, a nest, a bird feeder, whatever). Not surprisingly, the more time they spend in a particular situation, the more familiar they become and they soar! God’s critters are far more fascinating than we often give them credit for!

+ + +

While I sat and thought about ‘such things,’ I started thinking about us.

How focused is our flight so that we are able to soar through life for God’s glory?  

In thinking about this, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Senator John Lewis came immediately to mind. They lived life to the fullest; no tipping toeing through life, just focused soaring!  Sometimes they would indeed get entangled in challenges, but they never lost sight of their goals. Instead, they would evaluate the context of the challenges and cultures in which they were called to serve and lead; with increased understanding and wisdom, they could resume soaring toward their goals: giving voice to the voiceless and opening the door of justice and equality to all! Nothing deterred these two. They were focused. They were effective! They made a difference in the lives of so many as they pursued their goals until their last breath!

+ + +

Christians know the One Who is our model for focused flight and soaring. It is God in Christ. God’s unconditional love for us is lived out for us through the life of Christ.  Christ is the One on Whose life and teachings we are called to focus as we make our way through life. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

And the Son’s goal in His focused flight among us? That we return to complete love relationship with God and with each other. 

Oh sure, there will always be snags along the way – even for Christ.  However, God knows us better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 12:7) and even the cross couldn’t distract our Lord; while dying, His love focused on forgiveness and love of all. (Luke 23:34)!

Focus on the world changing events in the life of Christ: the cross – and beyond the cross to the tomb. What do we see?

Unconditional love undeterred by sacrifice!  Unconditional love that always forgives and seeks the good of all others – even enemies of the divine love being offered!  Unconditional love that never dies!  

Even slightly understanding such profound and unconditional love can’t help but create in us the urge to soar with Christ ourselves! 

And that’s when I think about us. 

For Christians, our focus is supposed to be two-fold: love of God, which means giving our lives to God’s care and authority, and seeking to know God even as we are known by God; and second, offering love to all others, enemies and friends alike. Full stop.

God has also given us the goal: to become vessels through whom God’s love flow so that God’s peaceable kingdom comes to earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10).

But, is this our focus? Is this our goal? Or are we distracted by other things?  

Are we caught up in the brambles of a world at war with itself; a world of judging and name-calling; condemnation and hate-speech. Have we lost our focus and no longer care about God’s goal?  

I really am grateful for the folks I know on social media because they are kind and loving folks. However, I know people who get slammed on social sites and through emails by ‘Christian friends’ in incredibly hateful ways.  I have heard so many who claim the name of  Christ’ all the while saying horrific things about each other in the news, judging all who don’t agree with them, questioning the faith of each other. The result: hitting the metaphorical trees of mutual destruction! 

We seem to have lost our focus on the goodness that God sees in all of us.  We haven’t taken the time to become familiar with the challenges experienced by those around us, which keeps us from understanding them. Rather than focusing on loving others and receiving love in turn, we lash out at each other in fear.

To hate each other is to deny the love of Christ we are called to share.  

To refuse to forgive each other is to deny the work of the cross.

And the divine goal is seemingly lost to us!

+ + +

I am tired of the distractions; tired of getting caught up in the brambles of dissent and destruction.  How about you?  

Don’t you want to soar in peace and reconciliation instead?

The way to reach that goal is to focus on the life and words of Christ and live into those words day in and out.

You know, it’s amazing what comes of sitting on the porch just watching the birds!

And to God be the glory!  AMEN!

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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