“Aren’t two sparrows sold for only a penny? But your Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground.”
–Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:29
“What we need is a desire to know the whole will of God, with a fixed resolution to do it.”
“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.”
–David, Psalm 57:7
While it is true that the natural man cannot understand the things of God, it is also remarkably true that nature gets Him. The seas clap their hands at the mystery of their Creator, the trees sway and render their wave offerings, the hills dress themselves in their Sunday best, atoms hold together in fixed obeisance, flowers curtsy and, in hopes this may be the day of His arrival, gloriously spread themselves out as a carpet for the Holy One. The stars wink at a dark world as if holding a secret to the Treasure’s whereabouts, the rains dapple a hard ground with the signature of His benevolence and the wind follows the course of His good pleasure, fortuitously touching fevered brows with the kiss of His nearness.
Nature ministered to me just this week as I was on retreat with the Lord. A bird—I will call her Doreen ’cause she looked like one—flitted into the lens of my awareness, lighting on the ground a few feet away. I don’t know my birds very well but this one was common to our Georgia backyards, I’m sure of it. Let’s just say Doreen was a sparrow. She was carrying a twig in her beak almost too cumbersome for her little body and I sat by and watched her as she hopped a few steps then dropped it. Doreen just stood there for a few moments, still as stone, then dipped her head and snatched up the delicate little branch. She hopped four or five times and again dropped the twig, but standing over it as if to dare anyone to take it away. With graceful swiftness, Doreen then picked it up and hopped some more. This happened several times and I found myself mesmerized and pulling for this mother bird who was obviously on a mission to complete a nest for her young. Nothing was deterring her although she was tiring easily.
Suddenly she took to flight and landed in a branch nearby. No, not home. Not yet. A few huffs and puffs then Doreen was gone again, making a taut line to a bush some fifty yards from her temporary perch. Ah, I thought to myself, she’s made it. Good for her! In a very mundane way, Doreen was showing me what determination looks like. She was resolved to fulfill her calling, not resigned to it like we tend to be. All that was in that little head of hers was her babies needed a home and she was bulldogged if she was going to let them down.
Each of us have a calling, a cumbersome piece of wood, we are to carry through life. We may tire along the way and stop for a breather but it is ours to see this thing through, whatever it is. I told the Lord that I am in many ways that little bird, dropping its twig too often, too weak to fly the distance, needing far too many pit stops. But my labored hops are not missed by One who watches over me and in those sacred moments I found myself calling on the only One who can give the strength and impetus to see this all the way through to the end.
I love how Richard Foster puts it:
If we fall down—and we will fall down—we get up and seek to obey again. We are forming the habit of obedience, and all habits begin with plenty of slips and falls and false starts. We did not learn to walk overnight. Or to play the piano. And we do not condemn ourselves unduly when we stub our toe or play a wrong note, do we? We must not condemn ourselves unduly in the spiritual life either. At first it will feel like we are doing the work, that we are the initiators. But in time we will see that it is God who inflames our heart with a burning craving for absolute purity. A.W. Tozer writes, “We pursue God because and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.”*
Take a lesson from Doreen. I did. There is a prize, a holy habitation, and hop, drop, stop or fly, just do it. See it through. Finish. Whatever He has called you to do, whatever you must bear in this life, don’t quit. It’s worth it, child, more than worth it.
I know, because a little birdie taught me.
*Richard J. Foster, Prayer: Finding Your Heart’s True Home, p71