Sunday, July 15, 2018

77-6 Behind The Bird

Inspired by the song "Sparrow (Under Heaven's Eyes)" by Tenth Avenue North from their album Followers. Available at YouTube, iTunes & Amazon.

One day at work, I was running the shop while Dad was out of the office. I was on the phone with someone not incredibly important when my good friend and co-worker Jake called to me: "Patrick, come here!"

I first thought, well, I'm on the phone. So I decided to finish the phone call. But Jake came to the door of the office and made it clear that I should come now. So I hung up the phone and followed him out of the office to the shop floor.

He stopped, turned, and pointed up to the top of a set of shelves. I asked him, "Where am I looking?"

He replied, "Up there, behind the bird."

I quickly understood our situation.

Now, occasionally, we get a bird fly into the shop through the large overhead door. Our protocol is to close all the interior doors and turn the lights off so that he is encouraged to leave the way he came in. We don't want to come back in the morning and find a dead bird laying around somewhere. And after a bit of coaxing, they usually figure it out and leave.

This one didn't seem to get the message. First, we made loud noises. He didn't fly. Then we got up on a ladder and tapped the panel next to him. He still didn't fly. Then Jake got a glove and reached to pick the bird up gently. He made no attempt to evade capture.

So, he held the bird as we tried to figure out what to do. Obviously, this little bird wasn't doing very well if he was just letting us handle him like that. We look at him as he panted. He was clearly overheated. So, using our best bird skills (which weren't much), we filled a container lid with cool water, took him outside, and set him in the shallow pool near a bush. He sat compliantly, making no effort to leave. Jake took a leaf and dribbled some of the water on the bird to cool him off. He seemed to be in good spirits, but still didn't fly away.

We went back to work, having done all we could. Occasionally, we looked out at the bird. He still sat there, looking around, fully alive but not flying. Finally, Jake pointed out that the bird was no longer there. Unless some other bird picked him off (which didn't seem likely), he must have regained the strength to fly away.

That was the day that we became heroes to a little bird. It felt great, knowing we did our best.

It also felt ironic, considering I was studying the Tenth Avenue North song about sparrows.

We know that God loves all people, and has forgiven all who call on His name in faith. He has made a way so that we can access holiness without restriction or fear of exclusion.

But often we – I – feel like I've fallen too far that I don't qualify for that hope anymore. As a Christian, it is easy to believe that God loves everybody. But it is often hard to believe that God loves me. I know the mistakes I have made; rather, I know the mistakes I make. I am fully conscious of my position toward God when I am doing exactly what I desire not to do. I try to strive for that accessible holiness and then still find myself giving into the temptations of the world.

I look through my eyes and so clearly see what a failure I really am. And any encouragement of the Word, mentors or learned doctrine doesn't do anything to change the fact that I have done what I have done.

The truth is that we need to change the lens through which we are looking.

When God sees us, He sees us through the blood of Jesus. He sees us as holy because Jesus' blood becomes the lens that changes how God sees us. We are no longer doomed sinners; we are righteous, not because of our actions, but because of Jesus'. This is why salvation is by grace through faith: it's not by our works, it's by the work of salvation that God did through Christ.

Still, we come back to looking at ourselves and recognizing our failures. No, maybe our sins won't doom us to hell anymore, but they still make us feel worthless. As a human who has done these things, even as a Christian who has done these things, how can God still want to care for me?

Look at Jesus' words in Matthew 10:29-31:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

God cares about birds. And He showed that to me when he let a little one fly into my shop so that we could take care of it. Had we not been there to help it, it wouldn't have been able to fly away. Was that an accident? Absolutely not, especially in the context of this song.

If God cares about a little sparrow, how much more does He care about me? I am more valuable than a bird, even in my most fallen state. And He died for me so that I don't have to stay there. He has plans and promises for my life, and He will be faithful to forgive all sin and care for me even when I feel unlovable.

So, if you are still in that hole, take heart. I've been there too, more times than I'd like to admit. We all have. Sin doesn't scare God. He hates it, and hated it so much that He destroyed its power so that it can't defeat us. God has saved us from it and will lead us to the eternal home He's promised.

And remember, He hasn't saved you from your sin so that you just stay in that sin. Grace is not a license for sin; it is a license for freedom. We don't have to be shacked anymore. We've been given permission to forget our sins completely and move forward into the joys and promises that God has in store for us.

"I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free."

Lord, thank you for completely freeing us. You've freed us from the penalty for our sins, from the shame of our past and from the shackles of our present. Let us break away from those snares and use the strength You give to overcome. Thank You for loving us completely, and for caring about us more than birds. Thank You that we are so valuable to You no matter what we ever do. Help us to stop looking at ourselves through our own lens and instead see the value You see through heaven's eyes.

No comments:

Post a Comment