For The Birds
Yesterday God painted the most wonderful picture right in front of me. It was so awesome that I could hardly comprehend it. I was in the car in a very slow speed zone. The speed was restricted to 25 MPH, which always seems to generate a string of traffic. About three vehicles ahead of me I could see two birds darting in and out of the traffic as if they were trying to reach the pavement in a certain spot. It caught my attention. I don’t know what kind of birds they were, but they were about mid-size, brown and very quick of feather. For some reason the traffic stopped ahead of me for a moment and the activity continues. By that time, I had to know what they were up to. Slowly the traffic began to move again and it was my turn for the birds in front of me. By this time a third bird has joined the force. What was it? What was happening?
Just then, all three birds swooped right in front of me. I thought that someone had thrown out some food of some kind and they were risking their own lives and safety just to snag a bite of something. It was then and there that I saw the really awesome part of the picture. Someone who had traveled the path before me must have been going much faster. There, lying in the middle of the road was one of their own. He seemed lifeless as he lay there. It was obvious that he had flown into the path of an oncoming automobile and was either disabled or dead. These other three birds were darting in and out of the same exact danger that took their friend just trying to check on him. I could not tell if he was dead or not and, because of the traffic behind me, I could not stop and see for myself. I saw no movement, no signs of life, so I assumed that for him, it was over. It was a sad picture, but exciting at the same time.
I lingered as long as my eyes would let me. For a moment, life went into slow motion. It was as if God slowed the pace of everything for a second or two just to allow me to see something that was pure instinct within these creatures that He, with so much pride and design, had created. The other three birds would swoop in and out of danger, barely missing the very disaster that had reduced their friend to a heap of feathers lying on the pavement. One of them darted in front of me, swooped to the ground and immediately back up again, coming within inches of my windshield. I could see detail in his feathers and feet as he passed before my eyes because he was so close. What a sight.
I thought for a moment and wondered why I was given such an opportunity. What was it God was showing me here? What is the lesson? I thought of Jesus’ remarks about the birds. “Behold the birds of the heavens… ” I beheld. I saw the picture. I saw birds do with instinct and concern what believers, as a whole, do not do. They were looking after their own. One of them was down and the others lost all concern for themselves and rushed to risk their own lives for another. From that point on my mind raced. God had painted a vivid picture before my very eyes that must go on some sort of canvas for others to see. It was a story that must be told.
As I said before, my first thought was that they were after food. I thought they were completely mindless to risk themselves for a moment of pleasure and filling. But it was not for themselves. It was for a fallen friend, perhaps a brother or sister. The birds of the heavens were doing what believers should be doing. I asked myself a series of questions. When was the last time you risked yourself to rescue someone in trouble? Would you do it? Have you done it? Are you so self-protective that you generate one excuse after another to keep yourself away from the danger? Has the church done this for others? Would they? What possible thing could these birds have done for the little guy lying in the middle of the road anyway? Could they have picked him up and nursed him back to health? Could they have even moved him to the side of the road to keep him from being squashed by oncoming traffic? They were powerless to do anything. But, if the little guy was still alive, the last thing he saw in this world was someone like him trying to do the best they could to help him. They were powerless to solve the problem, but God created within them the insight to try. He gave them the instinct to care.
My life was changed in that moment. That picture still hangs in front of my eyes. It is now that I long for the gift to paint or draw. It is a picture that should hang on the wall of every church building in the world. It was an artistic moment of truth. But I cannot draw and I cannot paint. I guess the best thing I can do is swoop down and try to rescue the next one I see fallen. There are many kinds of things which strike us down. If that bird had watched what he was doing, he would have never been in that mess. So? The fact is that he did get into the mess… and when he did, those who loved him tried to do something about it. Could they fix him? No! But they tried to do something.
I hope that if I die in trouble that the last thing I see on this earth are the eyes of someone who cares about me trying to do something. And, I hope if you are in trouble, you will see mine. God made us to care. We have to choose not to. We have to choose to be self-protective and allow others to go alone. Would God be pleased with our choice?
In this picture it was not only the birds that I saw. I saw, in my mind’s eye the face of God as He smiled with pride and adoration at His creation. These little birds had done exactly what He built them to do. And then I wondered if He ever smiled at me?