Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I have three bird feeders hanging off of my back porch. One is for the beautiful red cardinals, and the other two are for the smaller birds like golden finches, and common sparrows. Then there are the bluebirds, and dozens of other species like the beautiful Red Breasted black and white Gross Beak whose ordinary habitat is northern Ohio and Michigan. For some reason he has migrated to Georgia in the spring for the last three years.

I’ve been doing this for years and enjoy watching them up close. When I feed them I remember that Jesus said in Matthew 10 that not a sparrow falls to the ground with out God seeing it, and “we are worth more than many sparrows.” I often remember the words of an old song: “just remember in his word, how he feeds the little birds, take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.”

We have a deal. I feed them and they put on their wonderful show for all to see. The cardinals courtship is almost human. The female will sit on the railing of the porch and tremble and shake her wings. The blazing red Male will fly down from the feeder and reach over and put a seed in her mouth. After a few time of this playful behavior they fly off together.

They occasionally fly into the sliding glass doors of our covered back porch. Most of the time they are stunned and helpless. When I hear the sickening “thump” I go out and look for them. I pick them up gently, sooth their feathers, and wait for them to recover.

One day I heard the loud “thump” and went out to pick up an especially beautiful young red cardinal. It had the most beautiful soft colors, was flat on the deck, with its head up, wings spread out, and crying loudly. It offered no resistance when I picked it up, and gently cradled it in my hands. I sat down in a chair, gently smoothed it’s soft feathers, and after a few minutes I got it to sit on my finger. It tightly gripped my finger for several minutes as I watched it blink it’s eyes, and made no effort to move.

For over five minutes it sat on my finger and finally I moved my hand up and down. It moved its head up and down and made no effort to leave. I felt like it was time for this little fellow to go about his business, and for me to do something else. I nudged it to fly away, and it flew a few feet to the railing around our porch. Then it made a diving flight toward a large bush at the corner of our property.

In sadness and horror I saw a large hawk dive and grab it a few feet before it reached the safety of the bush. I felt absolutely terrible as the hawk flew away with it. That wasn’t what I wanted at all. The hawk had chased it into the glass window, and then flew up in a tree to wait. I couldn’t see the hawk, but the little cardinal knew it was there.

What a terrible, unintended consequence, from my effort to help a small, scared little bird. I thought about all the times when I want to do something, or more important I want God to do something. I can’t see the future, but God can. I have a feeling that God often turns us in another direction, or refuses to answer our prayers because He knows our enemy is waiting with some painful, consequence that we can’t possibly imagine.

There are two great truths that we need to know about. When we do things they always have consequences. Sometimes it turns out to be good, and at other times it turns out to be terrible. Everything God does also has consequences. The only difference is that God can see the future. He also can see the consequences and the long lasting effects of answering our prayers.

We are on this earth to become something. God has a plan for us. Some plans may bring us joy, and just as often there is a hidden thorn of pain in the process. God knows good and evil, and we have to experience both in order to become like Him.

Many deliverance preachers and “word of faith teachers” will tell you to “never, ever, use that faith-destroying phrase when you pray”: “If it be thy will.” Then they twist the scriptures, make up false doctrines to prove that we are little gods, and can have whatever we want. (Praise the Lord and pass the offering buckets.) Yet, it was Jesus who prayed that very same prayer – “if it be thy will”. How could they deceive us and tell us not to follow the life and example of Jesus? (Matthew 26:39)