Sometimes God speaks to me through birds.
I don’t mean in some mystical fashion. A brilliantly plumed creature has never perched upon my shoulder and shouted prophesies. But on more than one occasion, I have felt the nearness of God when looking upon one of his feathered creations.
There was a time several years ago when I was going through a particularly dark stretch. While driving cross-country to visit some friends, I stopped at a rest area, and there, in a small tree outside the door of the low stone building, were dozens of sparrows. This is certainly not an uncommon sight in a rest area, but for some reason the sight of the fluffy little balls flitting from branch to branch filled me with peace. The moment was even notable enough to mention it later when telling my friends about my drive. “I’m not sure why it was significant,” I said, “but somehow it felt like it was.”
I expected the conversation to end there, but to my surprise, one friend answered, “Perhaps I can add some insight. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”(Luke 12:6-7).
Wow, I thought. Wow. God had been speaking to me, and I almost didn’t even know.
There have been numerous other times, when I have been sitting alone at a picnic table or walking along a trail, when the trill of a cardinal and a flash of brilliant red stops me in my tracks. It always causes me to take a deep breath, and remember. It is almost as though God is sending me a feathered little postcard: I’m thinking of you! And in return, I find myself thinking of Him.
Like the sparrows at the rest stop, cardinals are not uncommon in the places I have seen them. Their native range covers all the regions I have lived. So it is not like God is sending me a miraculous sign. I have never seen, for instance, a flock of wild pink flamingos strutting through Indiana. But to me, the impact is the same. It is in these common, everyday sightings that I am reminded of God’s presence. And why shouldn’t I be? Our God does not hide out in the far reaches of the world. He is not accessible only on occasion, in special circumstances, or in far off places. Our God walks next to us all the days of our lives, even in the common, everyday occurrences. “I am with you always,” He tells us, “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
I read once that faith is like a bird singing while it is still dark. I think of these words often during this time of year. My morning walks are still covered in darkness, but they are accompanied more and more by the sound of birds calling excitedly about the coming day. It could still be the middle of the night as far as the moon and the stars are concerned, but the birds tell me otherwise. “It is time to be up and about,” they are saying. “A new day is approaching! All is well. God is with us.”
During this time of year when birdsong is once more filling the air, I encourage you to take just a moment to listen. You might be surprised to find that the birds are talking to you, too. Reminding you that our heavenly father is walking here beside us. Reminding you that even during the darkness, there is the sound of singing. Immanuel: God with us.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them… So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”(Matthew 6:26, 31)