Saturday, February 23, 2013

Little Critters With Wings And A Lesson In Giving

I am fascinated with birds. Yes, I am that geeky girl who has feeders that I continuously keep full. I love to provide seed for the birds, but even more so, I love watching them. Over these winter months we have had every kind of Missouri bird come to our feeders. It has been wondrous just watching all these birds interact with one another.

I enjoy the sight and sounds of these beautiful creatures with their delicate wings and hungry bellies. Colors that light up our snow covered ground. They flit from tree to tree, branch to branch. One of my favorites is the Turtle Dove. We have six couples. Yes, couples. Turtle Doves mate for life. I find this to be one of the sweetest treats in bird watching. The cardinals are so protective of their female companions. The chickadees flitter about as if they are so happy they just need to spread the love. They remind me of little energizers, "Did ya see it, did ya, did ya? Come on, lets go, lets go." And yes, we have three different types of majestic Wood Peckers. They are spectacular to watch. The Finches come in their yellows, reds and purples. The little Nuthatch glides down the tree, head first, with little effort. What amazes me is that that all coincide with one another. A community of birds coming together to dine on the feast before them. And me, standing at the window with coffee in hand, in awe of the sights before me.

Just a few days ago we arrived home after a day out and seen the mess at our feeders. They were totally empty and seed was tossed all over the snow covered ground. I wondered how in the world the birds ate all the food I had just placed for them that very morning. So, after putting the groceries away, out to the feeders I went. Filling them and spreading seed and adding more suet. Then them came. Starlings! Everywhere were Starlings. As I watched in horror, they would push on the feeders and knock all the food out. Just one or two would be at the feeders doing this meanness. But as they tossed the seed to the ground here came their friends devouring what the other birds were wanting so badly. I was mad. I thought, how could these mean birds be so...well..mean. I was ready to be grab a BB gun. I know, some of you are thinking I'm horrid, but when the tiny birds cannot get to the food because of these larger, mean birds, well, it's unsettling.

But that's when I heard the Lord. As clear and precise as ever. "They are hungry. Let them come." Here I am arguing with God. I know, I know. But I am saying, "Lord, do You see what they are doing?" I hear His reply, "Yes, I see all. Let them feed." So, what do I do? For a while I ignore the Lord's instruction. I know. Your thinking, "Why wouldn't you just listen?" Well, because I see what they are destroying. I am refusing to let the other birds be bullied by these mean creatures. But then I get a closer look. I take the time to watch a bit longer. Are they mean? They seem to be, but they are hungry just the same. The only difference in these birds is what I think of them. Yep, I am judging them and I am saying, "Take the food away! Why feed these mean birds?"

Again, the Lord continues to speak to my heart. "Let them feed". So, I finally surrender and say, "Okay Lord". I just watch and then as a few come closer I see something my eyes have never caught before. They have beautiful coloring. Such detail. It's in their nature to be mean, but even as they are, the other birds give them room. The other birds still remain. It may not be their perfect idea of dining, but dining is what they do. Together. As one group. They endure these birds.

I am no longer seeing birds, but God's people. How many times do we only want to dine with those who are like us? How many times to we shun those who are different? Those with more money, less money? Those with a big house or a small house? Those who seem to have a lot to offer and those who keep to themselves? Those who serve and those who do not? Those who do not live by the covenant on the wall? Those who come to church just once in a while compared to those who are there every Sunday?

We see people in need and ignore them. After all, they made their own bed, right? How many people do we turn away because they don't fit into our perfect circle? Maybe they disagree with us. Maybe they attend a different church. Maybe they have never been in church before. We make people feel like criminals. When we push people away because they are not like us we give room for Satan to move in. Not only in those we push away, but in our hearts. Because yes, we have the attitude that we are better. We should be dining. In fact, the table should be laid out for us with a red carpet to lead the way.

My husband loves the bright color of the male Cardinal. I love the coloring of the female. One year at my mother's house we came home after a day out and found the entire yard covered with yellow finches. Absolutely breathtaking. It was then I fell in love with these lovelies of the air. Maybe I have always been fascinated with birds, but what I am learning is that all of God's creatures can teach us great life lessons. They gather with their broad band of color, their different shapes and sizes, different songs and different personalities. They gather to feast.

Do you know the revival that would break out if we simply feasted with all those different than ourselves? When we take the time we see past the difference and we have a new appreciation for life. For God's creation. We don't all have to agree on every subject. We don't have to see eye to eye on every biblical issue. What if we just met to feast in the glory of God? What if we all came to dine together, leaving behind indifference and embracing those around us? To put it simply. We allow indifference to separate us. When in fact we should simply be coming together in the love of Christ.

People are pushed away enough for being different. People feel lonely and sad. They feel no one understands them and no one is willing to accept them the way they are. We sin, we falter, we stumble, we face temptation, we get off track, whatever you want to call it. When we do so there is always someone in the waiting to tell us just how wrong we are. We hold grudges. We look at those different with judgement. It seems we are always waiting to kick someone off the feeder and tell them they are not welcome.

What if we embraced all who are different and just loved them. That doesn't mean we love and embrace sin, but friends, may we move past our own ugliness and fears and embrace those around us. What would Jesus do? He would feed them. He would lay out a dinner before them. Before all. He calls ALL to know Him. Unless we step out and get uncomfortable we are never going to reach the lost. All they need is love. Not a worldly love, but a Christ-like love. We are to love like Christ.

"For God so loved in this way: He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that he world might be saved through Him. " John 3:16-17

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Himself as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented Him to demonstrated His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus." Romans 3:23-26

Friends, in order for the this world to see the love of Christ we must embrace those around us. We must show love. Let us dine with those who are different and maybe have a mean streak about them. May we never give up and may we keep our feeders full so that others find us forever inviting. This is how we are going to be a light to the world around us. One feeder at a time we can change the world. One seed planted, is one heart changed.


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