Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



I have a window on nature’s most fundamental drive.

About a month ago, as I walked through our foyer, I noticed a flutter of wings in the windows of the front door.  Looking closer, I found that a house finch had built its nest on the wreath my wife had hung there.  Eggs were already nestled inside.

So, I’ve watched this saga of reproduction and avian parenting as it has played out in full view of our day-to-day life.  I’ve had to adjust along the way.  I try not to startle the mother as I walk by.  And after I had turned on the hall light one pre-dawn morning, I found the male thumping against the glass – perhaps seeing his reflection and assuming it was a competitor.  Or maybe he’s just not an early bird.  I flipped the switch back off.

What has struck me along the way is how hard-wired this process is.  Nature revolves around reproduction.  Even the bird calls I hear as I write are a kind of melodic personal ads: single white-throated sparrow seeking partner to settle down and have babies.

God has created a world which continuously produces new life.  And how feeble and needy that new life is!  When the chicks hatch in all their gawkiness and raise their huge heads, eyes closed, hoping for food which they have no way to get on their own, they tug at my heart.

It’s remarkable to think that God uses this to describe his own tenderness.  The Creator God, who called into being the vast universe and upholds it with his word likens his compassion to that of a mother bird:

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge  (Psalm 91:4)

…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings...  (Luke 13:34)

We see both elements in the window of these verses.  God’s focused love. And our feeble, needy lives.  Sometimes, in the enjoyment of this life, we need to rebuke our self-sufficiency and recognize our neediness.

But at other times, when we are overwhelmed by our frailty, we need recognize how sympathetic he is to our condition.  How attentive he is in caring for us in our need.

We never outgrow our need for his compassionate care.  But we do outgrow the nest.  These finches, on whatever level they understand, know that the goal is to get the kids out!  And watching the three fledglings muscle each other in that confined space reminds me that my experience with Jesus is meant to bring about new life in others.

Of course, I see that at reproduction at work in the witness I have with my kids and grandkids.  But I feel the Spirit’s push to get out of the nest of my comfort and get about the business of growing the Kingdom.

Helping others to take wing.

Father, how kind you are to us.  Your love nurtures us.  And it prepares us for sharing that love with others.  Let your Kingdom come through us, we pray!

Reader, what’s your favorite encounter with nesting birds?  Tell me about it.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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