Bye Bye Birdies
Each year in the spring, a couple of black-capped Carolina chickadees build a delicate yet durable, tiny and intricately detailed nest on the dryvit frame that surrounds our garage door. They carefully select this prime location year-after-year because it allows the nest to sit just beneath the overhanging chimney, safe from most rain storms. Even Trixie Dixie, our cat, has no hope of reaching the nest. Several days of tireless labor go into creating this tiny but detailed masterpiece that is secured to the ledge with the birds’ own form of mortar mix and straw. This morning, however, I had the sad duty of cleaning up the beautiful little nest and the three shattered eggs that laid splattered on the concrete beneath the high ledge upon which it once was securely attached.
This incident caused me to pause and consider how a little effort on my part (or the lack thereof) can make a huge difference in the lives of others. You see, just the day before, we had the nest removed from it’s perch to pressure wash the house. Having seen a flock of four fly away from this nest two weeks earlier, we thought it was empty. It was not and now we had removed it from its secure foundation. Attempting to right our wrong, we placed the nest back on it’s perch with the intention of returning within the hour to reattach it using some small finish nails. This would have only taken a few minutes of our time. We turned away and lost our sense of urgency until it was too late for adequate response.
How sad to think that if I had just expended a little more effort, a little more consideration, a little more time, that nest and its eggs would likely still be on its pathway to purpose. This incident makes me mindful about being more conscientious about timing when responding to the needs of others. Jesus half-brother, James, asks believers, ”What good does it do to say, ‘Good day and be blessed,’ to someone who is hungry or needs clothing if you are not willing to feed or clothe them” (James 2:15-17). I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of haphazardly listening to someone share her needs with me, only to conclude the conversation with them by saying, “Well, God bless you! Hope your week gets better!” Oh sure, I stopped and listened to her pour her heart out to me and I even provided the correct responses of “Oh my,” “how sad,” and “I’ll keep you in my prayers!” Then off we went in opposite directions – no promises given, no risks taken, no problems solved.
God wants to connect us with others so we can reveal His love for them. As Christ-followers our faith is dead and useless unless it produces good deeds. What if an individual’s life could be enriched or injected with hope by simply offering what we can afford to give in a timely fashion? Sometimes this means praying for an individual – right then and right there! When someone requests prayer by email – respond by writing your prayer in the reply. Don’t delay! Someone may need that twenty-dollar bill you just withdrew from the ATM machine or that sack of clothes you removed from your closet six months ago. Someone you encounter may need that washing machine you replaced because it didn’t match the dryer and you don’t really need the $50 you can get for it. Perhaps someone needs a ride to and from work for a few days. Women in prison need someone to stop by and encourage them. Women in shelters need a Bible study leader or classes on developing parenting skills. Single moms would love to buy groceries without three kids and a carseat in the buggy – what about offering to babysit?
The number of needs around us can be quite overwhelming at times, but we only need to meet them one by one, as the Holy Spirit guides us. Like the story of the man who walked the beaches at night when thousands of star fish had washed ashore. He would pick them up one by one and toss them back into the sea saving them from death on the sand. He knew he could not save them all, but he could make a world of difference to the ones he could reach.
Father, help me be mindful of those who need what I have to give. Amen.
“Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16)