The birds are the first to wake each morning. I have listened in the predawn dark for the first twitter from the trees. Like sentinels they watch for the first faint glow in the east, and, long before the sun rises, they start their sunrise celebration. Sometimes I think they are surprised each morning when a new day dawns. Their excitement seems to echo Zecharias’ emotions when he announced the birth of Jesus saying, “The sunrise from on high will visit us!” (Luke 1:78).
I especially like the cardinal. I have watched these brilliant red birds perched high on bare limbs in the Minnesota winter, their ricochet notes shattering the snow-covered stillness on a subzero morning. I have listened to the same unmistakable notes and spotted their bright red coat amid thick green oaks in the sweltering heat of a Texas summer.
The mockingbird is always dressed in his gray tuxedo for some special occasion, white tipped wings flashing when he flies like formal cuffs in full dress. Unlike the cardinal, the mockingbird never ventures into northern winters. He much prefers Texas summers where he can perch on his stage in the live oaks and sing his stolen songs.
I remember waking, when I was a boy, to the rasp of blue jays at play in the pecan trees outside my window. They rasp now as they did then, and every time I hear them I am carried back across the decades to my youth.
When we lived in Minnesota, I watched chickadees on winter afternoons fluttering in the snow on our windowsill searching for seed. And I often sat on our deck in Rochester, MN and listening to squadrons of Canadian geese flying low overhead, so low that I could hear the wind in their wings.
Jesus apparently watched the birds and took pleasure in them. He referred to them to help us understand God’s love and care for us. He said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Again, He said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Sometimes we find ourselves thrown into difficult circumstances. Like the scorching Texas heat or the frigid Minnesota winter, every element seems to be set against us and we have difficulty seeing our way forward. At such times we are prone to wonder if God has forgotten us. We are prone to discouragement, doubt and worry about our future. Failing health, unemployment, broken promises and broken relationships conspire to steal away our confidence, our hope and our faith. At such times we need to consider the birds. We are not forgotten. He who cares for the birds of the air will doubtless care for us. We are of great worth to God. Listen to the birds and take heed to their song.