The Birds of the Air

I hurried home from German language class to prep my home for a portrait session, prep my gear, finish some editing, make dinner, and cook breakfast for the next few 4:00AM mornings my husband’s been keeping, etc. I scrambled into our master bedroom to find that one of the little baby Collared Doves from the nest in the very highest window of my house has taken quite a fall and was in shock and helpless on my deck.
What was supposed to be time spent cleaning soon became a struggle to get him back to his nest. 3 ladders and a solo trip trying to climb my roof in the rain left me feeling out of ideas and frustrated. I asked a German lady who works on our bottom floor to help me, but she apologetically told me she thought the baby bird might have a broken wing and would die or needed to be put out of its misery. After that, I tried for about 3 seconds to keep it together but I burst into tears.
I was afraid to take him anywhere because he was crying and his parents flew down to listen. I watched him cry while his parents were near but I knew they were probably feeling concerned and helpless. As I watched, little finches also came to look at the mess this little guy had got himself into. Isn’t that just like life? It seems like when we get ourselves in a deep situation that the most people show up or come around to “care”…or just get the latest dirt on your dramatic life saga. I knew the chances of this little bird making it were slimmer if I took him to try and help than if his parents just might still help him. However, I had trouble going to sleep knowing he was most likely not going to make it through the freezing wet rainy night.
But to my complete surprise, I checked to find him still awake in the morning…in the freezing rain. I had had it with not helping more at this point, so before my 8:30AM photo session I decided to get him some shelter at the very least. I used some napkins and moved him to a dry spot under an overhang where he could dry off and get warmer. But I had this photo session right? So I couldn’t worry about him until lunchtime. That was a challenge!

But all this while I was praying LORD, WHY do you want me to see this little innocent creature suffer? Why should this little bird die? And all of a sudden it became clear as day to me. I so loved and felt compassion for this little bird whom I had just met (so to speak). If it tore my spirit up within me this much, how much more did God’s heart break when His innocent Son suffered and when His children suffer?

Further still, while I was asking Him my why’s, I could see the bird’s parents watching quite diligently  even though they couldn’t get him back to the nest. I thought – this must be how God feels (like these parent birds) when His dearly loved people get themselves in a mess. It must completely break His heart to watch them self-destruct. And right then it was literally as if God answered my “Why this bird?” that I felt a resounding answer in my heart…“Now you are beginning to understand why My Word says I bear patiently with you, that I desire NONE to perish (2 Peter 3:9).” This is how I feel about little birds, critters and people…that I wish none would perish and cringe when people tell me about “survival of the fittest” while a little critter is vulnerable…but I have never thought about how much more God must feel it because it just crushes His spirit to watch His creation since He loves unconditionally and His compassion for us is endless. I knew the Sunday school answer – that God wants all to choose Him but the choice is ours – but only now was I getting a glimpse at how deeply it affects the heart of the one hoping, wanting, waiting and watching.
Later that day and through the week I got to witness the incredible. His mom and dad flew in…and his mom brought this little baby a whole bunch of food. I couldn’t believe it. I was hoping he had a fighting chance while knowing he had an uphill battle. But this was his best chance.
Back to spiritually reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of this little bird as us. US. Drowning in downward spirals of raw reactions to  life’s hard knocks and making mistakes. If only we could cry out with all our might like this little bird did, how our Father is waiting to come to nourish us, heal and restore us. His biggest hope is truly that none should perish, and that any suffering we endure in this life might be used to chisel strength, perseverance, character and hope into our lives and the lives of others.
I think God knew this little guy was a fighter and that I could really use a sign of hope for him. His parents not giving up on him was an amazing thing to witness. Watching the Mom swoop in every few hours and feed him was the sweetest…that is until baby bird #2 flew the coop, landed on my deck perfectly, and when he finally found his sibling who was (hobbling his way) he flew to him and they snuggled together on my deck all night.

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Over this past week, I have been so tickled to admire the wonderful care of the two parent birds, the reuniting of this cute little family, and the vast improvement of baby bird #1 stemming strictly from care from his family and his determination to spread his wings despite his limp.
The Best MOM and DAD Doves ever :)

^The Best MOM and DAD Doves ever :)!

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Early in this whole thing, a friend reminded me that God’s “eye is on the sparrow”; despite my doubting this situation might end well, I feel blessed to be so reminded that God does care for the birds of the air (Matt 6:26) (even more than an animal lover like me), and He cares for His creation – that none should perish but find eternal and abundant life in what He has for us of only we will chirp the word, ask and receive the grace that He wishes to pour out on us.
And watching this bird and this bird family this week, I am reminded that not only is His eye on the sparrow, but that “not one of them falls apart from the Father’s care” (Matt 10:29).
Though I am sure this little guy would have it easier if he hadn’t fallen so hard, God knew this would be a way He could reveal truth to me. He knew that my home would be a place where a tiny helpless dove could find rest and safety. He knew someone with a heart tender toward God’s creatures was here who would have compassion to unobtrusively care for and pray for him, and build him a dry and warm shelter, and to give him somewhere safe where his family could reconnect while remaining uninterrupted instead of being in a place where people are more concerned with shewing them to avoid cleaning a little (a lot actually) bird poop on the deck. I am not attempting to claim that I understand why God allows suffering in our world, but I do believe His Word when it says that suffering “produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-5). Who’s to say that the purpose and calling – the biggest thing we were born for – is not on the other side of our biggest challenge, struggle, hardship or devastation? Maybe, just maybe, it is because of what a person has endured that he/she develops the necessary strength and character and compassion to accomplish much and reach and impact many. Oddly enough, studying this species of bird I learned this is common for the little fledglings to end up on the ground (ideally not injured) for a few days. This must be frightening because they are unable to fly and are in new and scary territory hoping Mom and Dad will find and care for them and that no predators will take advantage of their vulnerability. It must feel like a huge challenge to this young animal. God knows that through this they will learn to find food and water, learn to evade dangers and predators, and learn to take flight. He knows that willpower and determination are born out of facing adversity, and even for this little guy with his injury, this situation has helped him become quite the overcomer, not because he’s had an easy life, but because he is fighting to make it and succeed over his obstacles. And I bet that even if this little bird does limp a little for the rest of his life, when he flies he will be even better because of the challenges he has overcome. I could not have been more proud to watch him flutter and fight until he successfully perched after flying – hurt foot and all – onto the chair with his sibling!

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I am thankful for the tiniest peek at my Father’s heart even if it took emotional turmoil over “just a bird” to get me there. Like me desiring all creatures to make it, He desires that none should perish. I am thankful for a God who cares for His creation big and small, and for a God who so so deeply cares for us. He cares for them. He cares for us. He cares.
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