Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Flying Free

Dear Friends,

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
My husband Stuart and I love God’s birds. So does God. We love to take a hike and revel in the Father’s finger work. He loves and cares for His creatures, feeding and clothing them. He watches their flight with joy, knowing when each one falls to the ground. None falls until it is time, and none falls without the Father in its falling. When one is trapped, He rescues it. When it is hungry, He feeds it. When it is attacked, He defends it. When it is trapped, He releases it.  He clothes it in color and softness and watches over it all day long. His eye, He tells us, is on the sparrow.
I was a little scared about something. That’s nothing new, but I was anxious and knew my help lay in His word. That’s nothing new either. I read again about the birds of the air. Years ago, I wrote a children’s book about sparrows and thought it might do me good to read my own book again! It had comforted me during the writing.  But I was far from home, and anyway, His Book is always the best. 
While reading that morning, Jesus talked to me about sparrows again, and it helped me again. He reminded me once more that I was of more value than many sparrows. He doesn’t promise there will not be a time to fall to the ground, but until then, He does promise there will be no falling without the Father if it is not His time and His will. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without the will of Your Father.” 
All this reminding was comforting to me. I thanked God for His life lesson. I thanked Him that I was of more value to Him than many sparrows and asked Him to help my little faith. Jesus often talked to anxious people…people who were living under occupation of the Romans - poor people, mistreated people, frightened people, and people who felt trapped and imprisoned. He was teaching in the open air and used the little creatures, busy with their “bird-ness,” as an example of the Father’s care. “Trust me, just like they do,” He said. “You are of more value than many sparrows.”
We were staying with a family in Germany at the time. They were Russian German immigrants and conservative believers whose families had been persecuted first by their own countrymen and then by the Communists in the former Soviet Union in a long and painful history. I listened with huge respect to the man of the house telling us a little of his story in halting English and wondered at the faith and strength God had given him in the labor camp.  
Then, I listened to his wife, who was born in Siberia, as she described her grandparents going into the woods after World War II to find berries and flowers to eat so they wouldn’t starve. I thought about them, weak and helpless and trapped in cruel times so they couldn’t fly free. But God had released them, it wasn’t their time. He, after all, is the one who has “numbered our days.”
After a while I went to our bedroom, thinking about the stories we had heard of the man’s amazing release and the long-awaited permission to emigrate from Kazakhstan. They were only allowed to bring a few hundred dollars and a suitcase or two.  But they left everything and came.  Then these groups of Russian German immigrants formed their Baptist churches all over again and flew free. They are the fastest growing evangelical denomination in Germany. 
“Consider the birds,” the Lord advised me as I climbed the stairs to our bedroom at the top of the house. As I walked into the room, I was startled by a flying object—a little bird! It flew frantically this way and that, panicked and frightened. As I stood watching it in amazement, our hostess came to see. “It’s never happened before,” she said. The window was only open a little bit. How it found its way into our bedroom, none of us knew! 
“Consider the birds,” said a voice in my ear! Well now, how good of God to give me a live visual aid to emphasize the words He had been speaking to my soul all day! I smiled. 
“Ok, ok, I get it,” I said softly. “Here is your beautiful little bird trapped in a frightening situation, but we just opened the window and it flew free. Nothing can happen to it without your permission and your will. It isn’t its time!
Then I heard, “Aren’t you of much more value than many sparrows?”
Do you need to “consider the birds”? Take a walk in the woods or just outside your garden gate. Look up and marvel at His watchfulness and care. Take heart. Consider the birds.
Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine

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