Friday, August 31, 2007

“S” is for Sparrow: “Grace Happening People” are Sparrows

“Even the sparrow has found a home…
a place near your altar, O Lord.” Psalm 84:3

When I moved to our current house, I couldn’t hang out my birdfeeders fast enough. With all the trees out back, I was eager to see who my winged neighbors were and my feathered friends did not disappoint me: Carolina chickadees, white breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, finches, woodpeckers—downy, hairy, red-bellied, and pileated—Carolina wrens, rose-breasted grosbeak, juncos, cardinals, indigo buntings (my favorite!), hummingbirds, and even those pesky carmel-breasted seed suckers (aka—squirrels!)—and, of course, sparrows. Sometimes sparrows are lined up on the deck rail, chatting and preening, just hanging out, but I’m so busy cooing over the “pretty birds” that I hardly even notice them.

If I could be a bird, I think I would want to be something exotic, like a toucan. Now there’s a bird for you! What a beauty—unique and almost comical, too. But can you imagine carrying around that beak? And what about attempting to kiss my sweetie? Could be tricky… If I were a Hoosier heron, I wouldn’t have to worry about thunder thighs. But can you imagine standing on those spindly legs all day? I could see myself as a pelican, loafing on the beach and pier and swimming whenever I wanted to. But, you’ve got to admit, a pelican isn’t the most attractive bird in the sky or on the sea. Actually, I think I’d fit in better with the sparrows, one among many, barely noticed, except if I were to make a pest of myself—which both sparrows and I are known to do.

When I was a child, at mealtime I was often compared to a bird: “Linda, you eat like a bird!” I was a picky eater and I often didn’t “eat enough to keep a sparrow alive.” Alas, I now could probably eat enough to keep a thousand sparrows alive! We make up all sorts of figures of speech involving birds when talking about the human race. I do not get up with the birds, nor go to bed with them, because I am a night owl. Pregnant women go through that nesting thing—and then eighteen or so years later wander aimlessly around their empty nests all teary-eyed.

Teenage girls chatter like magpies and Sandi Patty sings like a nightingale. Scary movies give me goose bumps. Sometimes I feel as free as a bird. If I mess up, I feel like a dodo. On days when I’m wandering the house looking for my keys—which I would swear on the Bible that I left on the kitchen counter, just like always—I feel loony. Some dear souls who rarely stray very far from the roost might say my daughter, Beth, is a bird of passage because she’s moved so many times. Speaking of kids, while I often had to talk turkey to my children, they are the feathers in my cap

“Why,” you ask, am I spending so much time comparing people to birds in a column on God’s grace? Because there are passages in the Bible in which Jesus compares us to birds, especially those “five for two pennies” sparrows: “not one of them” said Jesus, “will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father” ( Matthew 10:29,) “not one of them is forgotten by God,” (Luke 12:6,) and “the birds of the air neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26).

The point Jesus is making here is that, if God cares this much about a mere sparrow, just think how very much he must care about you and me?

Now, THAT’S something to crow about! “Cock-a-doodle-dooooo!
This brings my summer series, “Grace Happening People,” (based on the anagram “GRACE HAPPENS”) to a close, but next week I’ll summarize the characteristics of “Grace Happening People” that we’ve pondered for the last twelve weeks. A special thank you is in order to the readers who wrote or e-mailed me, sharing their own thoughts. I love hearing from you!

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