Faithful Living: Teaching through the birds


In nature we learn that God is powerful, enjoys variety, loves beauty, is organized and wise.

— Rick Warren

“The heavens declare the glory of God.”

— Psalm 19:1

“So what’s going on at home today?” my husband asked early this week. A work-related trip had taken him to Central America and we had decided to regularly email each other rather than run up a monstrous cell phone bill. Turns out the email communiqués were a nice change from our usual tête-à-têtes that too often focus on what’s for dinner, who needs to pick up kids, and what after-work errands need to be done. A computer screen and some moments of reflection created some interesting idea sharing and a couple times each day I’d log onto my web-based email account to see if there was a new message to open.

It was 90 degrees in El Salvador.

It was 42 degrees here in Western Washington.

There was lawlessness on a highway he traveled, making it necessary to roll up the car windows, lock all the doors, and remove his wedding ring and anything of value that could be easily seen from a street corner.

I talked of beautiful scenery and the progress road crews are making to beautify the roadway leading to Deception Pass Park.

I also described our son’s golf practices, the small group I meet with each Wednesday night, the budding pussy willows, and the birds… have you noticed? For weeks, it’s been quiet out there in the early morning hours. I know because each morning, when I crack open a bathroom window to let in a wisp of fresh air, I listen intently for the cheerful calls of the birds. The trees have been largely devoid of avian life until midweek when I began hearing a sweet sprinkling of chatter across the tree tops. In the coming weeks, the volume will grow and the chatter will quickly become a racket that will wake me before the alarm goes off.

For now, the birds are teasing me about spring. The pussy willows are sending out tender soft puffs. The bulbs are beginning to wake and send up tiny, green leaves. My husband, the practical biologist, reminds me that this is the “Hey, Baby… look at Me! I’m over here, in this tree!” time of year.

I see God. He’s declaring His glory. He’s reminding me He’s been on duty all winter. With the coming of spring it’s fresh start time, once again.

I care about such quiet, simple matters because I ask to see them portrayed around me. I ask God to help me notice things that will amount to something and teach me the eternal and important lessons He wants me to learn.

This week, I read in the book of Luke a simple passage that talks about worry, using as an example — you guessed it! — a bird. Here’s what God has to say about ravens, those sizeable black birds that can be rather noisy in the morning and who value their territories to such an extent that they are perfectly willing to harass even the big boys, like bald eagles:

Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a simple hour to his life?

Since you cannot do this very little thing why do you worry about the rest?

— Luke 12:24-26

God teaches by repetition. He wants us to notice the yearly return of the birds and He wants us to read His words so often that such wisdom is easily noticed and understood. It is the loveliest of God’s ways: that He would deliberately speak to us, softly and subtly.

God is easily missed if we forget to step away from our busy lives, to get quiet for a few moments and turn our attentions to the natural world. God’s message is easily missed if we never open the Bible and read what He has to say.

God’s comfort is often missed if we refuse to self-reflect a bit each day.

So what might God be saying to any one of us this week? I think He might want us to take a good look at our levels of worry. It is tough, but rather than discounting our struggles, God tells us to take a cue from the birds. Go ahead and make some good, solid plans. Work hard. But do not waste any effort worrying about every little possibility. Let the Creator of the universe shoulder most of those worries because He promises to meet our needs, as consistently as He sends the birds back to us.