Being Reminded By the Birds

If you want to know if you are cared for…look at the birds

Most mornings I step out to bask in the soothing morning sunshine. I love to spend these summer morning moments outside partly because I have heard it is a healthy vitamin-inducing practice. It gives me a chance to unclutter my mind, and what better way to embrace the gift of another day?

This morning I feel some heaviness creeping in as I wheel across the threshold into the glorious day. My thoughts the night before were far too consumed by the drudge of my life in this season. The empty car lot that is sprawled right before my eyes does not do much to help. For me, it is a stark reminder of people unlike me, leading normal lives. People with freedom to come and go, to earn a living, to meet new faces, to dream, to explore new horizons as they like. It is freedom that I feel deprived of, particularly in this season of uncertainty. Although I hate to admit it, a part of me envies this. I know that one of the problems with discontentment is that it clouds everything with a veil of grey, even my blessings.

I wheel myself into the yard so the fullness of the sunlight so as much of my body as possible can soak in its warm glow.  The worrying thoughts are turning my world gray and the glories of this beautiful day risk fading before my very eyes. The clear, bright, blue sky seems not so appealing anymore, the vibrant spring flowers seem to lose their color and even the gentle breeze ceases to be my favorite thing.

I close my eyes as if to adjust to the dreary light, when I open them again, I have visitors. They are two little grey birds; I want to call them common sparrows but I’m not so sure. They look like the ones we grew up calling ‘dirty birds’ because they scavenged their food from the trash and weren’t good enough to hunt even for human consumption. I watch intently as they breakfast on crumbs, hopping gingerly around my wheels.

A knowing guilty smile forms on my lips.

 ‘So like you to send me a reminder Lord. So like me to falter in my trust.’

Confession follows as I realize I have let down the guard and fallen into the old trap of worry and letting my circumstances define who God is to me, again. It’s not been many days that I read the reminder in the Word;  

“Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns—and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life?”

Matthew 6:26-27

Truth is, I have been considering options for my future again, and I’ve been concerned. I set my eyes on the hopping pair like Jesus was talking to me about these very ones. I know on several instances in the Gospels, Jesus used the example of common things-like sparrows-to teach his disciples lessons on trust. This lesson is for me. The significance of the moment is not lost on me.

 I watch a few more moments, by now the sun is turning things up a notch. I bid farewell to the visitors and swivel my wheelchair to face the door. Another lonesome day of waiting before me. My thoughts shift to past seasons when my waning body with its fledgling dreams had waited, watching at the world as though through a lens of impossibility.

That moment when I finally finished school and for years employment seemed impossible; when I moved to a new city and its harsh realities almost snuffed out the flicker of light that pointed to a bright future; the day I sat in the room with the ‘specialist’ awaiting a cure, just to be told I had to prepare for death; when I crossed the iconic age and still no pathway appears. In the waiting, there’s wasting in my body, a growing dependence that requires more strength than I can ever muster to stay on the course.

Many times in the past, a picture of the future seemed so bleak I started to believe I wouldn’t make it. Each time, I questioned whether God cared enough about these issues that leave me fearful, powerless, and yes anxious. In another Gospel book, Jesus gives these reassuring words,

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows”

Luke 12:7

 In the waiting, God came through always, because He cares. He concerns Himself with the lifespan of the sparrow, how much more mine?  No glass of impossibility, thus far, has proven too hard for Him to shatter. This season is no different. The journey through different seasons has brought me here, to tell the story.  

God cares. The story is unfolding. I stop at the threshold to take another snapshot of the birds-a mental frame that can serve me the rest of the day. They’ve flown away. I certainly am not alone in experiencing such seasons of drudge where it feels like being buried in a vacuum of loneliness and despair, where each breath in the valley is a step from the light.  In such moments, we yearn for a sign, a touch, a whisper-some palpable indicator that the Shepherd cares for and abides with us. His answer to our cry was long been previewed and written down in scripture. It is simple, complete, and comforting: ‘Look at the birds.’

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