My desk sits in front of our homes’ largest window. My front porch swing, two towering live oaks, my front flower bed and the livestock roaming in my neighbor’s pasture seem to be extra comforting as sunshine melts the evidence of this week’s snowstorm. Five days ago I sat here under layers of blankets watching hundreds of birds dart around my feeders devouring bird seed as quickly as I could put it out. Shockingly, they would bravely remain on one feeder as I filled up another without so much as a glance in my direction. One even landed on my hand! Hunger overrides fear,I guess, and they were certainly hungry, puffed up and frantic to survive. (Much like the rest of our ill-equipped state.)
Today, as I look out over my feeders, I only see a handful of sparrows and a red bird or two. Quite a few Robins are eyeing the mushy ground for bugs, and crows are cawing from the neighbors’ oak tree but my smorgasbord is fairly empty once again. The weather sure makes a difference in the desperation of my feathered friends and in their willingness to allow me to get close.
It’s not difficult to draw similarities between the nature of birds and my own nature. The “weather” in my life has clearly determined the levels of desperation in my heart and the willingness to which I draw near to God. When life falls apart and we’re at the end of our abilities, it seems that we, as humans, instinctively run to God. We pursue His presence, we devour His word, and we cling to any sense of hope that prayer can provide. But, when the sun comes out and the fear dies down, it seems just as instinctual to depend on our own abilities and to forget who provided all we needed during the storm.
Oh, but God is patient and gracious! He knows our pride and self-reliance but he continues to convict, to pursue, and to love us. When I’m face to face with the results of living life in my own strength, I’m reminded of how faithful he is. Each time I’ve found myself in a storm and in desperate need of his presence and provision, He’s been there. Each time, I find more “belonging.” I’m not sure how else to describe it except that my soul knows this place of dependency is where I’m meant to be. Where I’m meant to live. Each time I watch God faithfully care for me through a trial, my heart finds it easier to stay in that place a little while longer. To live from that place of dependency and trust instead of from a place of forgetfulness and self-reliance. The more I taste of God’s goodness…the hungrier I become.
And hunger seems to not only override fear but pride and self reliance as well.
I haven’t found a way to expedite the learning to live from this place of dependency. This place of abiding. It seems to come in its’ own time through experience…and failure. The ability to rest in who God is and what he does is inexplicably tied to the knowledge of who I am and what I can do. Or cannot do. The sin, deceptiveness and naiveté of my own heart and the weakness, frailty and decaying nature of my own body lead to the understanding that my hope truly does rest in God, the Keeper of the sparrows.
This revelation is worth praying for, but it isn’t easy and it isn’t always pretty. It is, however, a gift. A gift of humility that leads to a pursuit of righteousness that leads to peace. To belonging. To satisfaction. Resting in God’s hand as he provides exactly what I need frees my soul to hope, breath, and love in the face of whatever comes. At least that’s the glimpse I’ve had of where I’m meant to belong. I hope I can learn to hang out there a little longer today than I did yesterday. And even longer tomorrow.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:26-33