(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 15 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
Soaring like an eagle takes a tremendous amount of work, but also faith and determination. Joyce Meyer begins Chapter 15, The Strength to Soar with a very in-depth description of the intricate plans that mother and father eagles make in anticipation of their baby eaglets. There is a great deal of preparation to build the nest, furnish the nest and make it a comfortable and safe haven. Once the eaglets are a few weeks old, the mother begins to force them out of their security zone, first by removing items from the nest, then by pushing them to fly on their own. She is right there to swoop down and rescue them but continues to push until they are able to fly on their own. She does this because she loves them and also because she knows that they will not be able to survive if they cannot be independent at a young age. This analogy brought up alot of thoughts and feelings within me. First, I considered how similar parenting styles humans and eagles sometimes are. I need to be conscious that I am not holding my children back and encouraging their independence to the greatest extent possible. I can tend to want to "baby" my child with a bit more because of his but also because I am much more protective of him. It is important for me to remember that although this child needs extra love and care, he also needs the chance to fly on his own as much as he possibly can. Second, and probably more along the lines of where Joyce was headed is how I feel when God pushes me out of my comfort zone. Like the baby eaglets, my first instinct is to resist and want to stay where it is safe. I know it to be true that we do our most growing and become closer to God when we are faced with challenges but I just can't seem to want the more difficult path. It really helped me to see the reminder on page 204 from Deuteronomy 32:11: "As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, He spread abroad His wings and He took them, He bore them on His pinions." That means that our God is not only nudging us toward challenges that will ultimately make us stronger, but that he is right there, ready and willing to swoop down and rescue us when it looks like we are going to crash.
Joyce identifies three important things that we need to do to be certain that we soar above our difficulties. Preparation is the first step toward soaring. As the eagle takes careful steps to preen its feathers, we have to take the time for mental, physical and spiritual preparation for the challenges we face. I think I do a good job with the mental/intellectual (researching, learning, etc.), a fair job with the spiritual (these difficulties have led me to seek God with much more persistence and passion), but physical-boy do I need to get that on track. I am the mom who takes care of everyone else but herself. This was another reminder for me about the need for balance and I am taking steps toward this. I know that God wants the best for me and my family. I'm learning to put Him first, then let Him convict me and lead me in the other areas. This also ties into her suggetion that we Build Our Spiritual Muscles by bearing with difficulties and being willing and obedient to what God wants us to do. Joyce also encourages us to Come Up Higher by being careful who and what influences us. She reminds us that eagles can take on the qualities of chickens if they spend too much time in their company. Likewise, we can become more negative or more positive in our outlook based on who we spend time with. Joyce reminds us of God's instructions on this on page 209 in Proverbs 4:23, " Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life."
Joyce ends chapter 15 with the story of . This was interesting because unlike the other examples of people who never gave up, she did not have to overcome poverty or social class. She did have to be willing to follow what God was leading her to do in spite of what other people thought. Her parents felt it was "beneath" her social status to be a nurse, but as a result of her work medical conditions improved and nurses were appreciated by doctors for their value in medicine. She was also remembered for her great kindness and compassion to those who were hurting, in addition to being a great nurse. As someone who can be a "people pleaser", that can become distressed when I'm called to go against the grain, I was greatly encouraged by her example. As long as I am in God's will and doing what He asks me to do, the approval or disapproval of others is irrelevant.
I pray that as each of this begin this New Year, we keep You as the one who directs all of our resolutions. We thank you for all of the abundant blessings that you have given us this past year and look to You for guidance in this coming year. Help us to remember always that you have our best interests at heart and are always there for us in every need. Give us a spirit of strength, determination and unshakable faith so that we can soar above all of the difficulties and challenges that come our way. We ask all of this in your most holy name.
" but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."