One of my most favorite things to do this time of the year is to open up our windows and hear the birds chirping. Now, mind you, I don’t always enjoy hearing them REALLY early in the morning, but there is just something about their chirping that is so distinctively and cheerfully symbolic of these warmer days.
Recently, though, we began to notice more activity than usual. Our snowball tree was the object of great interest by two particular birds. They were flying in and out all day and we had no doubt about what was happening.
Sure enough, within a few days, a beautiful nest had taken shape. And soon after that, the mama robin could be seen perched upon the nest. When we would get close to the tree, she would be so very still. Hyper aware of our movements and so protective of her babies.
It became part of our daily ritual to check on the nest. We were always careful to keep our distance but we were just so anxious for the impending arrival of new life.
Then, one day, after my son had mowed the lawn he came into the house and said he was pretty sure that the eggs had hatched. The mama wasn’t there and he was certain he had seen the nest moving.
We all raced outside to confirm his suspicions and, sure enough, the little nest was moving and shaking. We smiled and quietly celebrated as though it was a new member of our own family.
The next afternoon I began to notice that there was quite a bit more squawking happening than usual. At first, I just thought that the robins were happily enjoying their new baby but then I began to observe a lot of activity in the tree. Birds of all different varieties were flying in and out of the tree and the robins were doing their best to keep them away from their precious nest. I watched as one of the robins chased a turtledove out of the tree following after it until it flew out of the yard.
And then, in an instant, it happened. What looked like a full-on bird brawl broke out among the tree branches. Mama and papa robin were flying around and squawking like crazy and in the blink of an eye, their tiny baby bird fell out of the tree just as a giant blue jay made his appearance. My daughter and I quickly ran outside (we had been observing all of this from the safety of the house) to check on the baby. The blue jay (rightfully intimidated by us) wisely fled the scene but mama and papa were loudly and wildly expressing their concern. The tiny peeps from the baby let us know that, thankfully, it was still alive.
By now, my husband and son had joined us outside. We were frantically trying to figure out what to do, mama and papa robin were frantically tweeting at us and getting ready to dive bomb our heads if necessary and it was just general mayhem there for a few moments. A quick search of the interwebs revealed that it was, in fact, a myth that you aren’t supposed to put birds back in the nest after they fall out so off to the garage went my husband to get a ladder while the rest of us stood guard over the baby. With gloves on his hands, my husband gently picked up the baby and my son and I held the ladder in place against the tree so he could climb up to the nest. My daughter waved her arms wildly at the parents to keep them from attacking her daddy as he attempted this rescue.
As soon as the little bird was back in the nest we hurried inside and observed the robins quickly flying home to their baby. It struck me that while we were in fact helping them, we had appeared as dangerous to them as that mean old blue jay.
And I couldn’t help but think about all of those times in our lives when God’s sovereign hand of love and protection feels like anything but.
In those moments when the disappointment or hurt or fear feel so completely overwhelming and you can’t understand how THIS thing you are going through could be part of God’s plan for your life.
How do we trust that what looks so bad can ever be good?
The mama and papa bird were only able to see and experience what was happening right in front of them. Their baby was in trouble. But we knew that the end result was going to be better. The baby was going to be safely returned to it’s nest. We couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t happen again, but we could help in that moment.
It seems to me that it’s in the middle of it all, when we can’t see beyond the circumstances, we begin to doubt God’s goodness. And when protection takes the shape of something else…something scary…something hard…something disappointing, we don’t recognize it. Because, in our minds, protection should always look like something safe.
But we were never promised safety.
What we were promised was the strong, mighty hands of our Father carrying us through our times of trouble.
“The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
I can look back at so many times in my own life when the circumstances that seemed so hard in the moment turned out to be God protecting me from something even worse.
What about you? I’d love to hear your stories of experiencing God’s hand of protection!
Thank you for meeting me here today dear friends,