“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.”
A baby bird somehow managed to find its way into my screened-in balcony. Exhausted from flailing against the netting, it sat on the railing with its mouth opened, gasping for air. When I got close to it, it spooked back into flight. I had no idea how I was going to free it; the balcony screen has only two small areas that I can open to the outside. As I walked toward the bird again, it shot past me and was gone. Thankful that it found its way out, I breathed a sigh of relief.
I padded into the kitchen to cook lunch. Standing at the counter chopping vegetables, a movement startled me. I looked up and there, on the window sill, was the bird! It hadn’t flown outside, but instead, it had flown into the cottage. It made a feeble attempt to fly away, but it was too weak. I took the flyswatter off of the hook on the wall and extended it to the bird. It hopped onto it but tumbled off when I turned towards the door. It landed on a whisk sticking out of the jar of cooking utensils by the stove. I slowly picked up the canister of utensils and walked it outside.
I sat the canister on the ground, but the bird still clung to the whisk. I took a few steps back and waited. It took a few moments, but finally, the bird found some strength and flew off. I thought about the bird as I cooked lunch—how it allowed me to help only after it had completely exhausted itself. Do I wait until I’m exhausted before I allow God to help me? Do I not trust Him enough to turn to Him first? I wondered.
I ate my lunch in the warmth of midday and asked God to help me turn to Him at the first sign of trouble. There’s no point in flailing about, exhausting myself, when God is right there ready and waiting. There’s no point in you doing that either.
“Serve one another humbly in love.”
Angrily, I kicked a piece of trash that littered the sidewalk. “Bad mood?” God asked.
“You don’t know the half of it,” I said. I shoved my hands into my pockets and leaned into the growing wind. “Why did you have to create us to have so many feelings? I’m worn out with mine today.”
As always, God patted me on my head. “There, there, now. I’m here,” He said soothingly.
“I don’t need your Kumbaya stuff,” I scowled. “I need a real solution. How can I stop feeling miserable?” I was eyeing a pine cone to kick when a boy ahead of me on the sidewalk took a tumble off of his bike. I ran over to him. “Are you okay?” He looked up at me with eyes as wide as saucers. I pulled the bike frame off of him.
“Yeah, I’m okay, I think,” he said. I could tell he was embarrassed. “Thanks,” he said and got back on his bike and rode off. My cell phone pinged. A friend had an urgent request for help, so I turned and began walking back home to get my car.
“That’s how you do it,” God said.
“Stop being miserable,” He answered. “Take the focus off of yourself. Put it on others. Be of service.”
“Got it,” I said, as I quickened my pace. My bad mood was gone. In its place was concern and love for my friend in need. “Thank you, God,” I said.
“You’re welcome, Sparrow,” He answered.
“Hey, God? I’m sorry about that Kumbaya remark.”
God chuckled. “We’re good. No worries.”
I smiled and reached out my hand for God to hold. I’d need His help to help my friend.
“Do not be discouraged.”
Needing some down time to process my bad mood, I shuffled over to Starbucks and ordered a decaf latte. I savored the warm cup in my hands as I slowly sipped the coffee. I’ve felt these feeling before. They are the fingerprints from past hurts—the pain of not being seen or heard, or respected. “What do I do God?” I prayed.
“Just breathe,” He answered.
“But my heart is aching,” I said. “Don’t I need to do something?”
“Close your eyes. Just breathe,” He said gently.
Amid the hustle and bustle of a busy Starbucks, I closed my eyes. I took in a slow breath. I exhaled. I took in another, and another until my shoulders relaxed.
“Feel better?” God asked.
I opened my eyes. “I’m more relaxed, but what about this sorrow?”
“You can give that to me,” God answered gently.
“What does that even mean?” I said, somewhat defensively. “It’s not like I can put it in a box and hand it over to you.”
God replied with a great deal of patience in His voice, “You give me your hurt by letting go of the past. You let go of expectations and practice acceptance. You let my love for you be enough.”
“I’ll try,” I said.
“One more thing, Sparrow. Forgive,” God reminded me.
I swallowed the last of my coffee and left the table. I pushed open the door and walked back home holding God’s hand. It was enough.
“And we know that all things work together for good…”
Ghost, the feral cat I feed, brought her three kittens to my barn, where they now seem content to reside. Yesterday I set out traps to catch them all so that they can be spayed and neutered. The kittens weren’t too reactive, but when I trapped Ghost, I saw the full fury of a wild animal.
Ghost had no way of knowing I was looking out for her ultimate health and well-being and that the outcome of her being trapped will be a better life. It’s the same for me, sometimes. When I feel trapped in a situation that makes me fearful, I can’t see how it will end well. I can’t see that it is simply a step towards a better life. I forget that God has the big picture in mind as my life unfolds.
The circumstance you feel trapped in right now isn’t necessarily a bad thing. God’s working for your good, and soon you’ll go on to better things. Ghost will come home and have a better life because she doesn’t have to give birth anymore. I’ll continue to feed her and love her from the distance that she demands. Her kittens may be young enough to be socialized and placed for adoption into loving homes. Good outcomes for having had to go through an uncomfortable experience in a trap for a little while. Don’t despair if you are feeling trapped right now by circumstances that make you sad or fearful. Your outcome will be good, too.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
~1 Corinthians 13:5
The wind lashed at my umbrella as I leaned into the force of the gale, determined to complete my morning walk in spite of Mother Nature’s wrath. When I turned the farthermost corner of my journey, I walked past a church. A young choir inside sang, their voices spilling out onto the sidewalk. I stopped and listened, forgetting the weather. Their voices filled my heart with such sweet innocence, that I was transported back in time–before the hurt, before the shame, before my hardened heart.
My heart ached for all the paths I’ve wandered that took me away from God, away from my goodness. I shivered standing there in the rain.
“I have loved you anyway,” God whispered as the tears I was fighting won and chased my regrets down my face.
“What?” I asked, raising my face to the rain.
“I knew you’d break my heart, but I loved you anyway,” God said gently.
“Oh God, how could you?” I could barely get the words out.
“I created you. You are mine. How can I not love my creation?” He answered.
“I’m so sorry for all of my mistakes. I’m so sorry I lost my way so many years ago.”
“I know you are. I’ve forgotten all about those years. I wish you could forget them too. Tell the others that even though I know they too will break my heart, I love them anyway,” God asked.
“Yes, of course, I will,” I answered.
Here is that message: God wants you to know that He isn’t a keeper of wrongs. He loves you, even when He knows you’ll break His heart. You are still His precious child. No matter how far down the wrong path you have journeyed, you can always turn around and come home, back to His arms, back to His heart.
I dried my tears and pushed on, each step propelling me towards home. I savored the company that I was now aware was walking with me—had always walked with me. “Thank you, God,” I whispered, full of gratitude for a love I can only appreciate, never fully fathom.