For The Birds
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." -George Washington Carver
This morning I made the decision to read and drink my coffee on the front porch of the house I live in instead of the desk that I have. It's a place that I have moved away from reading in the morning recently because as someone with self-diagnosed ADD it can be a place of interruption as I try to sit and focus on reading Scripture. And this morning was no different, but God has a habit of interrupting. And that was also no different this morning.
I keep two bird feeders up at my place. One is quite simple, it is more or less a hanging plate on which I have come to expect to see a fiery red cardinal more often than not. And my other hangs in view of where I sat this morning. It is a tall cylinder just filled up with birdseed that has 6 places for birds to perch and eat their fill.
As I sat to read and attempt to contemplate I found that my eyes and attention kept being drawn to the feeder. Though there were six places for a bird to perch and enough food for more than those a single bird jumped from perch to perch in an attempt to keep all others away.
I found myself watching this bird long enough to realize that she spent more time trying to make sure that she was the only one eating than she was eating. Though I find myself refilling the feeder at least once a week, this bird was acting as though she had to protect this food as if it was soon to run out.
As I watched I felt as though I could hear that subtle whisper of the Spirit.
"How often you act the same."
This bird did not gather a single grain or seed within that feeder. Nor had she gathered one that had ever been there before or will be after. She was acting as though she had to horde and protect what was there as if that was all there would ever be. As if I did not have birdseed on my list for Kroger today, as if after this feeder emptied this time it would never be filled again as it has always been.
And it was then that I understood what was being spoken to me.
The Spirit brought to my mind a question Jesus once asked. "Are you not more valuable?" (Matt 6:26) The question was asked right after Jesus told His followers to look at the birds, and to see how Abba took care of them and made sure they were fed.
For I do what this bird was doing. I often forget all the time that God has made sure that my feeder was refilled. I forget that even when the dark and stormy days come there is something for me. I forget that the places around me for rest should be a reminder that I need others around me that are also taking in what God freely gives.
I can think back over my life and see time and again where God showed up and took care of me when I thought that I couldn't make ends meet. I can remember being shocked earlier this year when doing my taxes and realizing that I didn't make enough to have to file them. And I was shocked because though I often wondered about what to leave off the grocery list I never had to go hungry. I can remember times when others invited me to eat freely from their table, and I can remember times when I offered for others to eat freely at mine.
And though I can remember back of the amazing faithfulness of God to me. I often forget. And in my forgetfulness, whether I realize it or not, I doubt either the love of God or His sovereignty. And so do you.
King David wrote that he had lived a long life and yet he had never seen the righteous forsaken or go without bread. (Ps. 37:25) And though this is a statement of remembrance it is also a promise of provision, for God is the same today as He was then. And He'll be the same tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that. (Heb. 13:8)
Yet, in reading that I can only imagine that your head may go where mine often does in reading such passages. I read the promise that the righteous will be taken care of, and I know my own heart, my own mind, my own past, and feel as though I am not included in that list.
I read such things and so often I can begin to believe the half-truths spoken to me by my flesh and my enemy, for the best lies tend to be almost-true. I remember that St. John writes that if anyone says they are without sin they are deceived and the truth isn't in them. (1 John 1:8) The words of St. Paul race into my head that all have sinned and fallen short of being righteous. (Rom. 3:23) And more than that, I playback the parts of my life that I hope you never know about. I remember every time I did the wrong thing or failed to do the right one. And the half-truth in this lie is that all of the above is 100% true, but the lie is that in only remembering these things I throw away the end of the story.
For St. John does not stop after saying that no one is sinless, but immediately states that for any who run to God will be forgiven and made righteous. (1 John 1:9) In his letter to the Romans St. Paul did not even let the sentence end with sin and failure before he proclaims that all us sinners who run to Jesus 'are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus'. (Rom. 3:24) And if that is not enough, in another of his epistles St. Paul goes so far as to say that Jesus became our sin so that He could give us His very own righteousness. (2 Cor. 5:21)
As I sat watched this bird I allowed the Spirit to do what He does best. He gave me what Jesus was full of, grace and truth. (John 1:14) Allow Him to give you the same. For no matter where life has you as you read this one thing is clear. None of y'all are so good that you don't need the radical grace of Christ, and yet none of us are so far gone that the radical grace of Jesus can't be lavished upon us. The cross ever stands to remind us that the righteousness of Christ has been freely lavished upon us. And is God can give us His own Son, will we allow ourselves to believe the lie that He'll forget to refill our feeder?