Pelicans are not birds I expected to appear graceful. To me, these seabirds seemed ungainly.
My opinion changed as I watched several soaring over-head. With large wings outstretched, they caught an air current and let it carry them. Far above the water, they circled, dipped slightly and rose high again. All of this was done without much need to flap their wings. They understood the advantage of going with the flow – airflow in this case.
A flock of small white birds flew much lower and their wings worked hard to keep them aloft. They were using their own strength and not riding the current of air. They landed and took off again frequently.
More times than I care to admit, I am like the small birds. In order to stay aloft, I flap harder to keep going. My own strength is never enough for what I want to accomplish and the effort exhausts me.
As I watched, a brown pelican did its spectacular plunge-dive. These birds can be flying as high as ten meters (33 feet) and when they spot their prey, fold back their large wings and plunge to the sea to catch it. The speed with which they do this is amazing.
I can’t help but think this speed is possible because energy has been conserved when flying. They make efficient use of the resources available to them.
I want to be like the pelican and allow the wind beneath my wings to help me soar. When I rely on Jesus, he enables me to reach heights I would never achieve on my own. His strength sustains and guides me.
The choice is mine. Will I flap hard and stay close to the ground or soar like a pelican?
A bright flash of colour was seen when the bird flew overhead. It landed in a nearby tree and quite effectively disappeared from sight.
Although I knew the bird was there, it now blended into the drab brown of the leafless branches.
The bright plumage was hidden. Only when wings were spread in flight could colour be seen.
I thought of the times I have also caused myself to disappear in plain sight. When I deny the unique attributes that make me who I am; my drab exterior blends in with my surroundings. No distinguishing characteristics are visible to set me apart.
God has gifted each of us with our own combination of talents and abilities. These are not to be hidden, but to be gratefully acknowledged and used for His glory.
I know this but it still seems risky to leave my safe perch and attempt to fly. I am more like a frightened baby bird than an exotic tropical one. Who am I to think I could possibly soar? It’s probably better to blend in than to draw attention to myself.
I remember hearing there are two things that can happen if I step out in faith to test my wings. One is that God will catch me if I fall. The other is that He will teach me to fly.
Either way, trusting God and following His leading will not be a mistake. Where I can only see my uninspiring, drab plumage, God sees the beauty He has instilled in me.
When, in faith, I embrace the opportunity to spread my wings and fly, the bright colours of His love will be visible to others and point them upwards to the glory of God.
“The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.” (Psalm 19:1 NLT)
In the pre-dawn hours, I awakened to the music of birdsong. I’m used to hearing birds in the daylight but the night time melody caught me by surprise.
Once the sun rose, the distinctive sound heard hours earlier was no longer evident.
I soon discovered that this was not a one-time occurrence but one repeated nightly during the late spring and early summer.
As I enjoy the happy sound of this nocturnal chorus I wonder if God gets the same pleasure from hearing my voice when I call out to him. Is it like music to his ears?
In some ways, I’m similar to the night time warblers. I call out to God in my darkest hours but, sadly, my voice can become silent when the light returns to my life.
God wants to hear from me in good times as well as bad. I must remember to let my words of praise and thankfulness be every bit as evident as those of my petitions for help. Maybe the music to my ears in the night is a reminder to let my words be constant music to the Lord.
“Never stop praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 GWT)
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV)
We stood at the window watching in amazement. There was a feeding frenzy going on in our small oak tree.
Never before had we seen so much activity at the feeder that hung in this tree. At one point there were even four birds lined up on the fence, waiting for their turn. The branches shook with their constant coming and going. A few more birds sat at the base of the tree, gobbling up anything that fell to the ground.
Later that afternoon a severe thunder storm hit our area. Sheets of rain obscured our vision as the thunder crashed over our heads. I said to my husband, “I guess the birds knew the storm was coming and that’s why they seemed desperate for food. They knew they wouldn’t be able to get to it again for awhile.”
This lesson from nature had me considering how I get ready for looming storms in my life. I don’t have to be in a last minute frenzy if I make plan in advance.
The best way for me to prepare for anything life has in store is to concentrate on my relationship with Jesus. When I pray and read the bible I am storing up food that will sustain me. Jesus is the bread of life and when I am walking closely with him I will never go hungry.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35 NIV)
“It must be the middle of the night” I thought. Our bedroom faces east and the early morning sun often wakes me earlier than I’d like. What I heard didn’t make sense in the darkness that surrounded me.
The sound of birds in the back yard was unmistakable. It was normal to hear their cheerful chirping n the daylight but not during pre-dawn hours.
The memory of their song danced around the edges of my mind when I arose in the morning light. I realized the sounds in the night had a message for me.
It’s easy to sing and be happy when the sun is shining and all is bright in my little world. The test comes in the blackness of the night. When all is dark around me, how do I react? Am I sure the darkness that seems to consume me will never retreat? Or, do I trust in the Lord?
God’s Word says not to be afraid in the dark times because he is close beside me for comfort and protection. He causes all things to work together for my good. I know from past experience that God has birthed incredible blessings from some of the darkest points of my life. My faith tells me to sing praises and to watch in anticipation for the dawning of a bright new day.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4 NLT)
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV )
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:23 NLT)
We have been thoroughly entertained by the antics of a few hummingbirds.
Our neighbours have a hummingbird feeder hung on their deck. Lately these tiny birds have been putting on quite a show as they approach it to feed.
There are several spots for the birds to drink nectar from. Despite this, they don’t appear to share very well.
One bird in particular will land but not feed. When others approach it will chase them away. There may be another two or three of these birds flying in circles around the feeder but the one will not let them near enough to land. There is a lot of energy being expended and at what gain?
As unusual as it is to see two feeding at the same time, the attitude of this dominant bird caused me to do some deeper thinking.
Have there been times when I have acted like this bird, not wanting to share with others? Do I hoard what should be freely available because I want to keep it for myself? Am I jealous, not able to see someone else have what I may want later?
These are disturbing thoughts but ones I need to examine. I don’t want to be using my energy fighting to hold onto things I need to be generous with.
Jesus gave his very life for me. He set the example to sacrifice for others. One of the greatest commandments is to love your neighbour as yourself. If I follow this teaching there will be no worry that my attitude won’t be selfish but instead will be loving and giving.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30,31 NIV)
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3 NIV)
When I walk along the beach I often see groups of shore birds. Their colouring blends in with the sand and seaweed. When only a few are together they are difficult to see until startled into flight.
It’s fascinating to see a dozen or more of these birds scurrying along the waters’ edge. They move as one. With no audible sound to instruct those behind, every bird swerves to one side at the same time. Suddenly all will take flight.
I think of times I have followed the crowd as these birds do. If I blend in with them and my surroundings I won’t be noticed. I stop thinking for myself and blindly follow.
There have been brief periods this has worked for me. Other times I’ve followed where I shouldn’t.
The only one I should follow is Jesus. He will direct my path. At times he will have me walk with others. Then there are the times it feels like I’m on my own.
When I stop to think about it I am never on my own. Jesus is always with me. The solitary times are when he is walking closest to me, giving me rest and teaching me what I need to know for the journey ahead.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8 NIV)
A disturbing dream woke me just after daybreak. I slipped quietly out of bed and headed for the living room. My heart was heavy and my mind troubled. The dream had a basis in reality and this view of myself was not pleasant.
I picked up my Bible but found it difficult to quiet my mind and focus on the words. Instead, I shared my anxious thoughts with the Lord. My mind stilled and I was able to resume my reading.
The devotional I read next seemed to speak directly to my concerns. This must be more than coincidence.
Suddenly a movement in the back yard caught my attention and I went to the window. We had filled a small wire feeder with winter bird food a few days earlier. Our little oak tree had become a gathering spot for numerous birds. I smiled as I watched some in the branches, one or two at the feeder and several on the ground enjoying what had been dropped.
This image was a visual reminder of the promises in the Bible that the Lord will take care of me. I knew then that he had heard my prayer. I had nothing to worry about because I was in his capable, loving care.
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. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26 NIV)
Turn your burdens over to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will never let the righteous person stumble. (Psalm 55:22 GWT)