23 January, 2016

The Birds Will Tell You

A few weeks ago, we discovered a tiny bird nest in one of the rose bushes just out the front of our house. It had two baby birds in it, and by the time we noticed it, they were already feathered. Only a few days later they were out of the nest, trying to fly. They didn’t know fear, so we picked them up, carried them around, and photographed them copiously. The parents at first didn’t seem to mind, but after a while they became aggressive, and you’ve got to admire them – a tiny bird less than the size of my hand coming for me and my family because of its care and concern for its offspring. I think that’s powerful because it shows that when we have a big enough incentive, we will do whatever it takes. And Jesus did: that’s what brought Him to this world, and took Him to Calvary. The most amazing thing though, is that the incentive was us. 

A couple of days later, the baby birds found their wings enough to fly successfully, and I guess Mummy and Daddy bird decided that enough was enough, because we haven’t seen them since. But it’s amazing how one small bird family kept us entertained for ages: we would go out and see where they were, and if they were alright, and we would watch them try to fly, or huddle out of the rain. They brought joy, and taught lessons. God combined so much into one kind of bird, and then remember that He also created thousands of other kinds of birds, not even to mention other animals: it's incredible when you think about it. He created such variety, and wove intricate details into every single specimen, and somehow included lessons we can learn from them all. And then He placed an example right outside our window. 

“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

“In one of His most impressive lessons Christ says, “Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them…” The Great Teacher is here leading our minds to understand the parental care and love which God has for His children. He directs them to observe the birds flitting from tree to tree, or skimming upon the bosom of the lake, without a flutter of distrust of fear. God’s eye is upon these little creatures; He provides them food; He answers all their simple wants. Jesus inquires, “Are ye not much better than they?” If God cares for and preserves the little birds, will He not have far greater love and care for the creatures formed in His image?” In Heavenly Places p114

 What lessons has God been teaching you through nature? Have you ever watched baby birds grow up and learn to fly? And how is 2016 going for you? (If you want my answer: way too fast.)

09 January, 2016

My New Year's Resolution

It’s that time of year when new year’s resolutions are everywhere. This year, I decided not to make resolutions as such, but rather choose a word to focus on, an idea to (hopefully) govern my choices. But I was still thinking thoughts like, ‘I will step outside my comfort zone more this year.’ Or, ‘I will get closer to God, and be a stronger witness.’ There’s nothing wrong with resolves like that, is there?

I didn’t think so, until I heard someone speaking about Lucifer, the angel that first sinned. What was it that caused his downfall? It says in Isaiah 14: “How are thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! …for though hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into the heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of congregation… I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High.” These were Lucifer’s new year’s resolutions, if you will. He was going to make himself better, he was going to change things, and he was going to do it himself. How is that different to what I was thinking? 

It’s hard to spot, because what could be wrong with aiming to do better, to be better?  Of itself, there isn’t anything wrong with seeking to improve; growth is essential. But, it’s how we get there, it’s how we plan on achieving the improvement, it’s the attitude. It made me think of Jesus, how He said, “I can of mine own self do nothing… I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) If Jesus can’t do anything of Himself, what do I think I’m doing saying I will do this or I will do that?

It’s not about me, it’s not about you. It’s not about what we can do, how we can improve ourselves, or make a good life for ourselves. It’s about Him. It’s got to be, because Jesus also says, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

So the only thing I can do, is choose to abide, choose to accept that I can’t do it myself,  and choose to let Him make the resolutions, do the improving, and help me grow to be who He has planned. Considering that He’s perfect, He cannot possibly fail or make a mistake, and that He already has unimaginable plans for my life, it's the perfect solution.

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about these last few days. It was a surprising thought process, actually, but it’s kind of freeing. I can’t improve myself; only He can. I don't have to do it, I just have to allow God to work in my life. It's still hard to know exactly what God wants for me this year, and the what, when and wheres, but I want to make it Him and not me. Anyway, what’s been on your mind? How do you react to the explosion of new year’s resolutions everywhere? How do you think we can practically let Christ direct our lives? Tell me your thoughts!