Give me your heart.
I had just finished feeding the feral cats when a movement outside the kitchen window caught my eye. “What are you doing out there, God?” I called through the glass.
“I’m getting things to make a nest,” He said as He bent over and picked up a tiny twig.
“A nest for a bird?”
“No. For you,” He answered.
I tugged my coat on over my pajamas and joined Him in the yard. “For me?”
“Yes. For you. I want you to have a nest in your heart,” God explained.
“A nest of twigs?”
“Of prayer,” God answered.
“But you’re picking up twigs,” I pointed out.
“So I am,” He said, with a twinkle in His eye. “Come, let’s sit together.” We went into the cottage and sat by the fire.
“I want you to pray for my guidance,” God instructed. I closed my eyes and prayed as He told me to. A sense of purpose and direction washed over me.
When I opened my eyes, God had arranged the twigs He had collected into a little nest and had placed it in my lap.
“Let your prayer for my guidance be a nest in your heart that holds you and nourishes you all throughout your day. Let this little nest that I made for you be a reminder for you.” I nodded, too overcome with emotion to speak. We sat there in silence as I pondered His wisdom in my heart, in a little nest that feeds and protects my soul.
Feed my sheep.
A cold wind tapped at my window panes. I got up out of bed and put a fresh log on the embers in the stove. When I turned around, Jesus was sitting on the chair next to my chaise. “Good morning, Sparrow,” He greeted me.
“Why, good morning to you,” I replied, a bit startled. “I wasn’t expecting to you see this morning, Lord.”
“I have something to ask of you,” Jesus said softly, His eyes bright and warm. “I want you to help me carry my cross.”
“But, that was thousands of years ago. And a man named Simon helped you,” I answered.
“Yes. That’s true. But the work of my cross still needs to be continued by sharing God’s love,” He explained.
“Of course, I’ll help,” I said, tears filling my eyes. “How could I not want to help you with that?” I asked.
“You’d be surprised at how many people turn me down,” Jesus said. “They are too trapped in fear to love.”
“Maybe they worry that if they love like You that they will have to give up something.”
“Love is the only way to gain what is most important,” Jesus said.
I looked at the scars on His hands. “You made sure of that for us,” I whispered. I looked into His gentle eyes and said, “Lord, I’ll help you carry Your cross. I’ll help You continue to show us that love is the way to Your Kingdom.”
Jesus smiled, and I settled in on the chaise to enjoy the warmth of the fire and the warmth of His precious heart.
The light shines in the darkness.
The sun waved goodbye to the day and slipped below the horizon. I watched from the bench under the pear tree as the last of the light faded from the garden. The twinkle lights on the arbor began to shine in the darkness, casting a sweet glow to the yard. “Those lights have been on all day,” I said. “But they shine best in the darkness. Sorta like you, God.”
“I understand. Even though my light is constant, the darkness makes it appear the brightest,” God answered.
“Yes. You’re my beacon of strength and hope when times are hard. You light the way for me. Thank you,” I replied.
“You are welcome, Sparrow. Please don’t forget that my light is there in the good times as well. Don’t ignore it. Let it lead you all the days of your life, not just when you are troubled or afraid,” God instructed.
I sat in silence for a few moments, pondering His words. “You’re right. I rely on you less when times are good,” I confessed. “I’m sorry.”
“Here, take my hand. Let’s walk back to the cottage,” God invited.
I stood up and God threw a handful of stars across the dark sky. They danced above us, sprinkling their light on our steps as we made our way back home together.
Love your neighbor.
A gentle rain fell as the sun lifted her sleepy head and peeked over the horizon. I curled up on the chaise to write, but instead of thinking about God’s love, I thought of someone who had recently attacked me in a very hostile email. My heart filled with hatred for the sender. “God, who are the neighbors I have to love?” I muttered under my breath. God pulled up a chair and sat down next to me.
“A man asked Jesus that same question,” God said. “Jesus answered by sharing the story about a Jewish man who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. No one would help him. Even a priest ignored him. But a Samaritan took pity on him and showed him mercy, even though there were hostilities between Jews and Samaritans. He cleaned his wounds and even paid for him to recuperate in a nearby hotel for two months. Jesus told the man that he was to be just like the Good Samaritan. You see, loving your neighbor isn’t so much about who your neighbor is, it’s more about being a good neighbor. To everyone. Jesus wanted to make that point very clear. Be a good neighbor, Sparrow,” God instructed. “Let go of your fear and anger about the email.”
I thought of the person who had written such unkind words to me. “They must be hurting to write such hateful things,” I decided. God reached out and took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“I’ll do my best to be a good neighbor to all, but I’ll need your help.” I squeezed His hand in return.
“I’ll keep opening your heart to my love,” He promised. We sat there together, holding hands until the sun rose and shared her light with us.
We glory in our sufferings.
I woke to the plaintive calls of the geese on the wing, high overhead. Their cries touched my heart, reminding me of a time when I was full of sorrow. “I remember when I felt as woeful as they sound,” I whispered in the dim light of dawn.
“I was there with you,” God said.
“At first, I wasn’t sure. I felt so alone and forgotten. It took time for me to realize that the hardship I faced was actually a gift you were giving to me. It gave me the opportunity to mature and to grow closer to you. It took even more time, but eventually I not only recognized the gift, I felt your hands extending the gift to me. I touched them.”
“Yes. I remember,” God replied.
I reached for my robe at the foot of the bed, ready to start my day. The geese called out again, way off in the distance. “They’ll come back, just like I know that hard times will return again some day.”
“Life is full of ups and downs, that’s true,” God agreed.
“Next time, I’ll search for you hands through the gift right away,” I answered.
“They will be there,” God promised. “They will always be there.”