FAITHFUL LIVING: Total dependence on God changes lives

I had been thinking about it for weeks: I would adopt a pair of zebra finches and integrate them into our bird-loving home.

It was an adoption idea I began to privately entertain the day I realized I would soon help our eldest daughter move out of our home to attend University of Washington. Thankfully I will see her frequently as she will be living only two hours away. But I also understand that once our kids leave, family and personal dynamics with those children will adjust and change. I figured that watching finches would remind me that there is a time and place for on-call parenting. When the chicks get too big it is time for them to fledge — to exit the nest for short outings before eventually flying away when those feathers have grown into place and feeding oneself becomes a habitual and successful activity.

Besides, I had loved owning finches during my own stint as a college student. I was ready for this nostalgic enterprise. But first I had to endure a bit of angst.

“You didn’t tell us you were getting birds.” (Kids think we adults cannot possibly keep secrets or privately consider new ideas without their input!)

“What do finches do all day?” (Don’t kids know that simple things like stepping away from electronics to consider the movement of birds or fish is refreshing, stress relieving, and downright fun?)

“You don’t expect us to clean that cage do you?” (Now why would I want to further complicate the incredibly busy and stressful lives of my teenagers?)

Oh, the joyous reactions of teenagers! I thought as I explained that because I am a faithful contributor to the household checking account, I felt completely justified when writing the modest check for the finch purchase — without team approval. Besides, I promised the outlay would not endanger their own college accounts.

Weeks later the Klope kids are singing a very different tune, except for the middle child who thinks jumping 1,200-pound horses is the coolest, but wouldn’t be caught dead holding a 1-ounce finch. It’s something about flapping wings and little clingy feet that does her in.

But for the most part the small cage is now a magnet for all humans who pass through our doors. This is because something absolutely wondrous has happened: Dharma laid a clutch of five eggs and five strong youngsters have hatched.

The pet store employee who sold me the pair cautioned that I would need to be patient. Zebra finches are indeed domestic, but need time to settle into a new environment. I’m just glad Dharma and Greg did not hear that conversation as I carried them out to my car in their tiny cardboard pet bird carriers.

The growth of our baby finches has been phenomenal because of the relationship the babies share with their parents: It is a picture not only of complete devotion on the part of the parents, but complete dependence on their care. Those parents are on task because their babies will not survive without them. They madly eat their boiled eggs, greens and seeds, then hurry into the nest not only to warm their children, but to regurgitate their own food to fill those empty bird tummies. The kids are thriving in response.

I have heard not a note of complaint. They chirp happily. Greg even crows with pride when his kids settle down for a nap. There seems to be no record keeping or signs of a tug-of-war regarding their familial duties. Both parents clean, warm, and feed. The result is a nest full of babies so large they will surely fall out in the coming days if they do not venture out and put those wings and young feet to the test.

There is a lesson here — you knew there would be. God is using this domestic scene to reveal a more important message: Total dependence on Him allows us to experience growth and His immense power.

I knew there would be something hard about this lesson, for I find it tough to surrender my life and worries to God. I value independence. Most Americans do. Even Frank Sinatra sang about it when he crooned, “I did it my way!”

But God sees it differently. He says we must admit the futility of unaided human effort and trust Him for the rest. It is those of us who think we can do it all (and on our own) who will live with the greatest danger.

If we allow God to teach us and feed us, we will grow in spiritual and emotional strength. We will reflect the best of His creative endeavors and be filled with a song so powerful will not be able to stop singing.

Freelance writer Joan Bay Klope’s e-mail address is

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