Early morning thoughts. I took a sip of tea, leaned forward and opened the blinds behind the desk. There, in the yellow halo of light from the blazing security light affixed to the wall, three small gray and brown sparrows perched in the entwining branches of the crepe myrtle trees screening the window of my second floor condo. Two had their heads tucked under their wings, demonstrating all the flexibility usually attributed to those of the feline persuasion. The third miniature beauty was occupied with his morning ablutions, pecking his tiny beak atop, behind and under his uplifted snippet of a wing.
Beyond and to the sides of this sparrow’s bedroom of light there in the tree branches, darkness was still really dark, stirring, as it always did, tender memories of high school mornings when my father, who arose at five to go to the rock mine, sometimes woke me when I had a paper due or needed an extra hour of piano practice.
“How can that be so many decades ago now?” I wondered. “Thank You, Lord, for those two Scriptures yesterday, that one in Isaiah and in Psalms”.
Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you. (Isaiah 46:4, AMPC)
I will come in the strength and with the mighty acts of the Lord God; I will mention and praise Your righteousness, even Yours alone.
O God, You have taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared Your wondrous works.
Yes, even when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not, [but keep me alive] until I have declared Your mighty strength to [this] generation, and Your might and power to all that are to come. (Psalm 71:16-18, AMPC)
Coping with problems. I had recently started going to bed earlier so that I could get up earlier for the specific purpose of dividing up time spent sitting at the computer, part of ongoing efforts to keep on with the work of writing despite the recent barrage of age-related challenges like eye strain, stiff joints, fatigue, and on and on.
But today, looking at the sparrows I am richly blessed as the word of God comes to mind, as always bringing truth and therefore peace. The truth is that I am exceedingly blessed, in countless ways. Having a home, food, a car, the freedoms of living in America are things I try to remember to thank God for daily. But I also thank Him for the health He has given and for the wisdom He gives in how to keep going, and even laugh, in spite of the problems associated with old age and white hairs.
So, this morning as I look at the sparrows, I think:
“Finally, I get it Lord . . . there are many sparrows. Many. And I am worth more than many of them, You said. As they simply perch and sleep, and awake and happily chirp the day awake they do not worry how they will do their job of finding food. If one of them is a little older and is feeling stiff, they do not worry.
Two days later. . . I was having a great day, with an unusually long stretch of time to write since it was not only a rest day from exercise but also a day with few other chores to do as well. Most of the morning, I spent happily combining ten or so separate files into one, closing in on the process of getting the book “Undepressed” ready to put on the website, hopefully by the end of this month.
At one, I took an hour’s rest, flat on the bed, part of my self-imposed health habits that help greatly. After a bite of lunch and a quick quiet time, I was debating whether to continue work on compiling files or to return to work on the new book about becoming a believer when a text pinged.
“We have noticed suspicious activity on your account. If you did not authorize the following transaction, text N to this number. . . “
Well, that led to four more text messages, with waits in between each, and then the text “Your debit card has been cancelled due to fraudulent activity. Please see your financial institution or call this number for a new card. . . “
“Just when things are going so well, just when I have some extra time, just when I was in such a good mood. . . “ began the silent fuming.
But, by grace, not for long.
“I am sorry, Lord. Thank You for catching this attempt at fraud. Thank you that they only got one hundred dollars before the fraud protection system stopped it. Help me redeem this time, Lord. Let there be someone at the credit union that I can witness to. Help me have a good attitude.”
Well, there just was no chance to witness to anyone. I got a new card, was given the phone number to call and dispute the fraudulent charges, and advised, which I already knew, that any automatic payments that had been set up on the old card would have to be re-established.
I walked back out into the Texas sun, still highly irked at the loss in time and the loss of the good mood. I had so much I wanted to get done today!
But, as I pulled back into the parking lot and walked to my unit, I realized it had only taken an hour. The credit union was less than two miles from my home, there had been only a short line, and I could probably have the money taken by fraud restored.
How He takes care of sparrows. That’s when I remembered this blog post I had started a couple of days before, and I thought.
“Lord, part of the way you take care of the billions of sparrows in Your world is through protecting them from harm, just like You protected me from financial harm. And those sparrows do not worry or fret about cats or birds of prey or other dangers, once they are passed.”
I sat back down at my desk and thought about the day and other blessings and protections. I had been up at five to drive someone I love to the hospital for a procedure, where all turned out to be fine, a blessing to that person and to me. On the way home, I had been passed on the interstate by two fire engines and an ambulance, on their way I soon saw as I creeped along in the backed-up traffic, to a bad car accident. Had I not had to wait an hour at the hospital while the check-in snafu got untangled before I left, I might have been in that accident.
“Father, like a child fussing because his papa will not let him cross the street when cars are coming or a child throwing a tantrum because she cannot have a cookie thirty minutes before dinner, I have whined and been mad about delays today. And all the while You have been protecting me. Forgive me, Lord, and show me how to be more grateful for all the hours and hours of time You give me every day and all the blessings You constantly pour out.
Help me truly consider the lilies and the sparrows. Give me the heart of a trusting, non-complaining and grateful child.”
Biblical basis. As ever, I cannot seem to write short blog posts! In looking up the well-known sparrows reference I found that Jesus used the metaphor of sparrows and another time He used ravens and lilies to tell us not to worry. Most of Mattthew 10 contains the instructions of Jesus to His disciples when He was sending them out to minister. He warns them that they will be persecuted and tells them not to worry because they are “worth more than many sparrows” and God cares for every single sparrow.
In Luke 12, Jesus was addressing not only His twelve disciples but a large crowd as well.
22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
As Halley’s Bible Handbook notes “Jesus had favorite sayings that He repeated again and again. One of them was about God’s unfailing care for and guidance of His people.” (p. 669).
How gracious God is to bring His Word to our minds again and again, and again, and just when we need it, just as He provides food each day for every sparrow. And part of His daily manna this day, this hour, for this all-too-human human being is this verse:
Casting the whole of your care
…….[all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns,
………once and for all] on Him,
…….He cares for you affectionately and
……………..cares about you watchfully. (I Peter 5:7, AMPC) (emphasis added)
Lord, please keep reminding Your silly child that I am worth more than many sparrows and that You are watching over me, affectionately, every moment of every day!