|With Jesus as Lord, we share His Love|
Yesterday I helped a friend who needed an extra pair of hands in her custom sewing shop. While we were working, I asked about the small thunk-flutter, thunk-flutter I heard coming from her office. "A bird?" I said. "Yes," she explained. "We have a male cardinal that keeps flying into the window above the air conditioner." I stepped into the other room to watch, and sure enough, there he was- all red with a pointed crest and a black patch at the base of his triangular bill- repeatedly launching himself at the window glass. Inevitably, his beak would hit the glass and he would be thrown back, but he would quickly flutter up again and have another go. He was nothing if not persistent in his pursuit. Every once in a while, he would take a break from his futile efforts and perch in the nearby branches of a bittersweet shrub where he would sing those clear, liquid notes of the cardinal's distinctive song, what-cheer, cheer, cheer, that had always sounded so hopeful and beautiful to me, but now began to sound weary and melancholy. Such tragic beauty!
Did this bird clearly see his own reflection and think he was defending his territory from another male bird? What made him want to enter and claim this territory that repelled him so forcefully every time? Or was it possible the reflection he saw was murky, and he thought there was a female cardinal behind the glass coyly eluding him? Either was possible, we guessed. All day while we worked, with only a few minutes' break between forays, he repeated this process, and every time he hit that glass, I felt more grieved for him. Didn't he know this wasn't working? Didn't he know that by doing the same thing over and over, nothing was going to change? Why hadn't he learned yet? And then it dawned on me; in many ways, I am just like him.
How many times have I seen things clearly, but drawn the wrong the conclusion? How many times have I seen things unclearly, but taken action anyway? How many times have I tried to enter a place I didn't belong, or repeated the same painful mistake and expected a different result?
How many times have I been persistent in the wrong pursuit?
In The Message Bible, the last sentence of the sixth and last verse of Psalm 23 reads, "I'm back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life." The words "back home" suggest a leave-taking, a time away, and a return. They suggest that one who was once at home in Father God's house, grew discontent and chose to leave that secure dwelling to wander, fruitlessly pursuing something different or more exciting, just as the prodigal in Luke 15 is described as doing.
Whether we have wandered long and far into another country, or have just wandered for a short time, and maybe only in our thoughts, a little ways off the path, wandering is wandering. How wonderful it is that when we return to the Father's house saying, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants" (Luke 15:18b-19 NKJV), our Heavenly Father welcomes us, not as servants, but as sons and daughters, and with open arms! "While [we were] still a great way off," He watches and waits as we futilely launch ourselves at impenetrable windows of territories that have nothing to offer us. He doesn't force us to stop and come home before we long to and do so of our own accord because He knows that doing so would not keep us there. A parent's actions can make a child comply, but they can't make that child want to comply. However, just as a parent continues to love a rebellious child, our Heavenly Father continues, not only to love us, but to pursue us with His beauty and love. The psalmist David put it this way, "Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." (Psalm 23: 6a, The Message)
How weary and melancholy those futile songs we sing from our perches in the bittersweet shrub must sound to our Heavenly Father! He watches and listens with a heart overflowing with compassion for the pain we cause ourselves. He waits, knowing what beautiful music we could make and what fulfilling lives we could lead if we would just seek to inhabit the territory He has for us. And He waits expectantly for our return. Look! See Him, even now, silhouetted in the light of the wide open door.