Free as a bird

I remember as a child having dreams that I could fly. Perhaps every child has aspirations of being Peter Pan or Tinkerbell, but not everyone makes their dream a reality. Later in life it seemed to me that, if I wanted to fly, the closest I would ever get was a parachute.

Looking back now I’m not certain what my expectations were of that first leap from a plane. My thoughts were racing with what the instructor had taught us. I suspect my only sensible thought was the countdown mantra we’d rehearsed solidly the previous five hours: ‘One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, CHECK CANOPY!

All too soon I was at the door of the plane, below me were 3,000 feet of fresh air and a farmer’s field. As I fell clumsily out the door shouting the mantra, I could hear the plane fly off to the distance and the rush of the wind round my ears. Eight seconds later I looked up shouting “CHECK CANOPY!” – and there it was in all its glory, my beautiful, miraculously inflated parachute!

From hurtling straight down, I suddenly found myself floating, gracefully inhabiting a space where all around me was peace, where there was an eerie supernatural calm, where there was, for me, the presence of God. I was finally flying free and it was awesome.

Of course it wasn’t to last because eventually I hit the ground with a terrible thud. But that day I briefly experienced something out of the ordinary – genuine and absolute serenity. Years later as I look to the skies and see birds exhilarated in flight I can understand what it truly means to be ‘free as a bird’, to exist in a space where serenity overcomes all, even adversity.

But they who wait for 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 40:31 (ESV)

There are times in life when we find ourselves in a sort of free fall, where events and circumstances spiral out of our control and we wonder where, when and even how we’re going to land. It is at those times we must trust in our Lord, allow him to take the strain and bear our weight. When we rely on his strength we find ourselves flying rather falling, facing our trials with a certain serenity that comes from absolute trust in Him.


Fiona McDonald
Director of National Ministries