“Hey!” I yelled at the birds for what seemed like the hundredth time, and two or three flew away. How dare they try to make a home in what was clearly not their property? We were finally getting to build a garage onto our house, but when construction halted, we were left with a nice, dry, comfortable place for the sparrows to sing their babies to sleep at night.
But not on my watch! Yelling at them every half hour or so seemed to do the trick.
It wasn’t sustainable though, and after a couple weeks of this, I borrowed an extension ladder from my neighbor and got to work covering the 32 points of entry with cardboard. Satisfied with my certain victory, I smiled, wiped off my hands, and walked the ladder back to my neighbor. The next morning though, you’ll never guess what I found on the ground… Cardboard. The birds had just pecked it out and kept right on building. They didn’t miss a beat.
“Hey!”, I yelled again, and out flew the sparrows, and out I walked to my neighbor’s to ask for the ladder back.
It’s a funny story. You can probably see me shaking my fist at those birds. It’s also a sad story. I wasted way too much time trying to keep birds from doing what birds were made to do.
Not long into my de-birding expedition, these words from Jesus began repeating in my head and heart:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)
I began to think my efforts weren’t working because I was fighting against the promises of God for these birds, and I kept hearing him say to me, “I’ve promised to take care of them, Barry, like I’ve promised to take care of you. “
There are other lessons from this story to be learned, like what Jesus was teaching right before this passage about not laying up treasures on earth, but what I want you to take away is what I kept hearing and what we all need to keep hearing: that the promises of God never fail. They are meant to be the rock on which we stand.
In a day and age where we have more reasons than ever to be anxious about our lives, let my foolish little exercise be a reminder to us all that a sovereign and loving God is watching over us. He knows what we need, and we are of more value than birds.
The sparrows are still in our garage, by the way, and our girls have baby doves living in their window.