“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
To settle means to come to rest, much as snow settles on the ground or dust settles on a book shelf.
A bird settles down on the window ledge. A dog settles down when he finally quits barking. A horse settles down when she stops pulling at the reigns. The house settles down when the parents take the grandkids home.
To Settle also means: to lower your standards of what’s acceptable and best in order to have someone or something right now.
If you something, you choose or accept it, not because it’s what you really want, but because you thought there was nothing else available or better.
In seminary, many professors allowed us to contract for grades. Each grade had requirements. The higher the grade the greater the requirement. I wanted an A but the requirements seemed too much for the amount of time I was willing to give to that course, so I settled for a B.
Settling is choosing to live a life that is less than the one we’re capable of living.
The Eaglet and the Turkeys
A young eaglet fell from his nest and landed near a flock of turkeys. The turkeys scattered but soon returned. Though startled by the intruder, they invited the young bird to join them. He looked at them. They had feathers though not as beautiful as his. They had beaks but not as noble as his. They had wings but not as grand as his. And though they looked similar, he could tell they were different.
He asked them what they were. “Turkeys,” replied one of the birds. “Am I a turkey?” the eaglet asked back. “You can be if you’d like. Being a turkey is easy,” the turkey said. “All you have to do is eat what we eat, scratch like we scratch and gobble like we gobble. If you want to be a turkey, you’ll just have to be like what we are.”
The little eagle felt he had no choice. There was no way he could get back to the nest so he decided to become a turkey. He began to copy the other turkeys’ behavior. He’d scratch up worms and scoop them up in his beak. He didn’t like worms, but all the others seemed to enjoy them, so he ate what he could.
After dinner the turkeys began to gobble. He’d never gobbled before, so he let out a squawk and when he did all the turkeys ran into the bushes. One of the turkeys said, “Why don’t we work on that later? Right now it’s time to roost for the night.”
He wasn’t familiar with the term “roost” so he just watched the turkeys as they clinched onto the branches and fell asleep. He’d never slept clutching to a branch. He tried but kept waking himself up as he began to tumble off the limb. He found a fork in the branch where two limbs came out together. He settled down between them and slept the rest of the night.
In the morning he followed the turkeys around, scratching on the ground, picking up worms and other insects. He’d just swallow them whole to hurry and get them down. He decided you must have to develop an acquired taste to really enjoy them. Maybe he’d get that in time. That evening he repeated the same process of settling into the crook of his bush.
Day after day, he lived the life of a turkey. He ate turkey food, he slept in turkey bushes, he even got better at gobbling, not good, just a bit better so he didn’t scare the other turkeys away. They even gave him a turkey name—they called him Theodore.
One day, he looked up and saw a bird, high in the air, floating among the currents. When one of the turkeys saw him watching the bird, he told him, “Don’t look up there. Everything we need is right here on the ground.” So the eaglet went back to scratching.
A few days later he heard a beautiful squawk, like a whistle calling him to look up. It was the bird again, dark, black feathers shining against the blue sky. This time something within the eaglet called out to him. He felt urges that made his heart want to leap out of his chest. Urges so strong, he could settle for being a turkey no longer. He was an eagle and he knew it.
As he moved toward the clearing, his eyes were fixed on the bird in the sky. He opened his massive wings, flapped hard and lifted off the ground. Soon he was soaring on the updrafts. He instinctively knew what he was supposed to do. With each breath of rarefied air, free from the dust scratched up from the ground, he rediscovered what he was made to do.
Two morals: It’s hard to soar with the eagles when you hang around with turkeys.
It’s easy to soar with the eagles when you realize you’re an eagle.
Soaring is what an eagle is made to do.
Soaring is what an eagle is equipped to do.
For an eagle to refuse to soar requires him to deny who he is and refuse what he’s been given.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory [who He is and what He does] and excellence [how He does what He does]. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises [what He has committed to us], so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Pet 1:2-4)
The divine nature – what God gives us that defines us as His children. Being who we are and having what we need to live the life to which He has called us.
The eaglet says: I am an eagle. I have what an eagle has. I can do what an eagle can do.
I am a Child of God. I have what a Child of God has. I can do what a Child of God can do.
Unless we know who we are, we will never realize the full potential of the life God has given.
[I pray] that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:16-19)
If you are a turkey, being a turkey is fine and fulfilling. But if you are an eagle, trying to be a turkey when you aren’t a turkey will never fulfill the desires that cry out within you.
Jesus said: I have come that you might have life and have that life in abundance. (Jn 10:10) He has placed something inside of us that cries out for that abundant life. It is begging us not to settle for less but long for more.
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col 1:9-14)
Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, (2 Pet 1:12-13)
Stirring brings things back that have settled down.
George Anderson’s life had stirred up the lives of some of the men in our church.
This week, Friday evening, Saturday evening and next Sunday morning, our Bible Conference is planned to stir up the desire for God that’s in you but has perhaps settled to a place of lesser significance.
So we might realize: Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, (Isa 40:31)
If you’re going to settle, settle for more not less.