To my blog followers: please accept my sincerest apology for being incommunicado for several weeks. It’s been a rough couple of months, and I’ve just not had the heart to write.
But as always, God speaks and He touches my heart with His story that I cannot help but share.
I have always heard (and even used!) the metaphor of being kicked out of the nest. It’s the beautiful concept that we are not made to stay snug and secure in our little spaces. We were made for more–we were created to fly. And even when we don’t think we’re ready, Mama and Papa Bird will give us the nudge that sets us free. “Get out!” they say.
Such a sweet story.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a brilliant red cardinal flying back and forth to a small tree outside my window. My son, who has keener eyes than mine, said, “Mom, look! There’s a nest in there.” Snugly cuddled in the midst of the branches was a small nest, with five wide open beaks, waiting to receive their breakfast. Mama Bird, soft brown but with a red beak, also flew back and forth, cheep-cheeping at her babes.
Over the next week, we watched every day as the chicks grew bigger–and noisier. Mama and Papa Cardinal flew their feeding missions over and over, and we saw not just the wide open yellow baby beaks, but now tufts of feathers peeking over the edge of the nest. It was like a National Geographic special just inches outside my window.
And then came The Day.
I woke up early and was sitting by the window in my favorite chair, reading my Bible and journaling when I heard a symphony of tweets. I got up to see one fat little chick sitting on the branch just outside the nest–and four little ones still inside, squalling for their breakfast. One of the nest-bound babes began to preen, clumsily unfurling little wings to clean them with a sharp beak. Slowly this little one hopped out, perching on the edge of the nest. I heard more cheeping, and looked up. There stood Mama and Papa Cardinal, perched on the edge of the roof, looking down with pride at their offspring. Personification? Sure, but I’m absolutely convinced that’s what they were doing. Then, Baby Bird unfurled baby wings…
and promptly hopped back into the nest.
I found myself transfixed by the drama. Would he or wouldn’t he jump? The others in the nest were raucous, their bright yellow beaks reaching up hungrily. Baby Bird, now with plumped feathers that no longer fit the snug safety of the nest, hopped back up to the ledge. I was surprised to find tears on my cheeks. That little bird is me. I’m unsure…I’m not ready…what if I fall?
And then Baby Bird’s support system kicked in. Papa Cardinal left his perch on the roof and flew down to put food in Baby’s mouth. Then Big Sister hopped off her branch and nestled up to Baby Bird. Not pushing, just snuggling up. “You can do it,” I imagined her whispering. “Go on…fly.”
And then he did. Tiny wings unfurled and Baby Bird leapt from the nest, out into endless possibility. Mama and Papa Cardinal resumed their regular rounds, feeding the three remaining chicks, and Big Sister hopped back onto her branch to watch.
My son and I spent the next twenty minutes watching the drama replay, as each of the remaining chicks took their place on the edge of the nest. No one else needed quite as much encouragement as Baby Bird, and I thanked God for the blessing of so great an object lesson. “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope'” (Jeremiah 29:11). Truly, He has fed me and provided tremendous encouragement during a deeply unsettling time in my life.
And then I read on in Jeremiah:
“‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile'” (Jeremiah 29:12-14).
Bless you, Father, for the little birds. Thank you for your graciousness in showing me in such an unmistakable way how you provide–and how you love. Let me unfurl my wings and trust you.
Let me fly.