Once upon a time, a king paid another king a visit. As a mark of appreciation for the visit and in honour of the cordial relationship that existed between the two kingdoms, the host presented his guest with two beautiful peregrine falcons. They were perhaps the most beautiful specie of falcons that the visiting king had ever seen. As one who loved to hunt for leisure, he knew very well the value of a well-trained falcon. So as soon as he was back in his kingdom, he wasted no time in handing the birds over to his head falconer for training.
A few months later, the falconer requested audience with the king. Bubbling with expectant excitement, the king asked,
“So how have my birds been doing? I hope they are ready to take on the skies?
“Your Majesty”, the falconer replied, “I have been busy with the birds’ training. However, I am sorry to report that only one of them has really learnt to fly. In fact, it is taking on the skies in all its beauty and soaring so high that it’s a delight to behold. However, the other bird has, since it got to my place, refused to even get off its branch!”
The king was troubled. Could the bird be down with a disease that was affecting its capacity? Were the feathers fully grown? Was it feeding well? The falconer took the time to explain to the king that there was no trace of disease on the bird and its appetite was extremely healthy and rapacious. In fact, most of the time its counterpart was up in the sky, it was on the branch eating!
The king called together his advisers with the proposition that anyone who could make his falcon fly would be handsomely rewarded. One by one they tried. But the falcon would not even budge an inch!
It was therefore a very worried king that summoned all spiritual leaders and sorcerers in the land to see if they could find a solution to the dilemma. After trying all they could, none of them was able to make the falcon fly. It stayed, as if glued to it, on the branch.
The king explored a few other options. But none worked. Then one day, the thought occurred to him,
“May be I need someone who is more conversant with life in the countryside and who may better understand the nature of this problem. Go and get me a farmer from the countryside.” he ordered the head of his palace guards. A farmer was promptly sought and brought to the palace and the task explained to him. He set to work immediately.
The following morning, the king woke up early to see if anything had happened. He was thrilled beyond words when he saw the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. Unable to rein in his feelings, he said to his courtier,
“Bring me the one who has performed this miracle.”
The farmer was promptly located and brought before the king.
“Your magical prowess is without equal! How on earth did you make the falcon fly?” the enthused king asked.
With his head bowed, the farmer said to the king, “That was very easy, your highness. All I did was to simply cut the particular branch on which the bird was sitting. The bird itself did the rest of the work!”
Every one of us is well-endowed by the Creator with our own peculiar grace that makes limitless possibilities attainable; if only we would explore beyond our branch. We were all created to soar. In the words of a Yoruba proverb, unless one bird deliberately courts the angst of another, the skies are wide enough to accommodate every bird that takes flight. There is no man with potential who is not blessed with the wherewithal to maximize such potential. The dominion mandate was given to all mankind at creation.
Unfortunately, we are often like the slothful falcon. Stricken by the scourge of comfort, convenience and mundane familiarity, it is easy to become a couch-potato, paralyzed by indulgent indolence. We grow fat when we should go far. We sit on our bums when we should be soaring high! We clutch our branch of comfort so hard that the possibility of stepping out appears like a distant thunder! I can imagine the thrill of the falcon that took the initiative to hug the skies and the exhilarating feeling of freedom and the knowledge that the only person who could halt its altitude was itself. The possibilities were endless. From the halcyon heights, it could look down and see what was in the grass below and if it needed to hunt, it could plan and execute its lethal swooping assault on its prey!
Like many of us do when we see others succeeding beyond our wildest dreams, the sluggard falcon must have wondered why the other bird needed to soar so high when there was more than enough food to eat on the ground. Perhaps it was simply fearful, not knowing what awaited it outside the confines of the branch. What if the wings were not strong enough to carry it? What if it could not go too high? What if it was shot mid-flight? Contemplating those possibilities alone could paralyze initiative. What the second falcon failed to realize was that our true greatness lies beyond our greatest fears. When you don’t venture, you also never discover possibilities. The wings you have never learnt to spread can never in your imagination, sustain you in flight!
To shock us out of our lethargy, God sometimes sends us a rude awakening that rustles our nest of comfort and mindless contemplations. The roof over our heads is suddenly blown away so that all our capacity for survival is unleashed as the pre-packaged excellence finds unfettered expression.
The biblical story of a man who was lame and literally stuck on a bed for thirty-eight years is instructive here. In those years, he was locked in the prison of dependent expectancy in the misguided belief that someone would come and carry him to the pool for healing. One day, Jesus showed up, ignored his rants, and took a hit at his branch of comfort,
“Carry your bed, and walk”! To a lame man, that would appear a tall order. But the bed was really his albatross. If he needed healing, the bed had to go before the walking!
We are usually comfortable with what we have mastered. In time, it becomes our convenience and fuels our lethargy. Yet if we must soar, it is either we learn to sidestep the comfort, place a demand on our God-given potentials or await the arrival of a farmer to axe down the branch of our dysfunctional inertia. The logic is simple. Life gives no guarantee of lifetime immobility. If you are not moving, you will be moved.
Let me end this with a prayer. May your eyes see possibilities beyond your imagination and your greatest fears. And if they don’t, may He be merciful enough to send you a branch-cutting farmer!
Can I hear an ‘Amen’?
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!