I fill my birdfeeder with sunflower seeds every Friday night. I like waking up Saturday morning, opening the kitchen blinds, peering out the window and searching for the chickadees that welcome me to the weekend.
It is a new routine that I have started recently. At one time, filling the birdfeeder was a Saturday chore. It would empty during the week, and if I wanted to enjoy my small friends while I was home during the weekend days, it was necessary for me to lure them into my lilac tree with an abundance of seeds. It worked.
But then, I realized that sometimes that was a little too late. I was missing a couple of available hours to delight in my bird friends. There was a time when neighbours may have witnessed me outside in pyjamas, rubber boots, seed pail in hand, trying to untangle my unruly morning hair from the tree branches, but that scenario isn’t as appealing to me as it once was. So, I began showering and getting dressed before attending to the bird feeding. However, I was wary of going outside on a cold morning with damp hair, so I would eat my Cheerios first. And all this time, I would be glancing out the window at my birdless yard.
One night, I had a brilliant idea on how to maximize the joy and contentment my little friends bring me. I could fill the birdfeeders before the weekend arrived. We could greet the day together, not meet after several hours had already passed!
Honestly, I spend more time scouring my backyard for birds than I do my house for dust bunnies. I am inexplicably drawn to my windows throughout the day, my eyes continually seeking a woodpecker, nuthatch, blue jay, grosbeak, my faithful chickadees or a new surprise guest. With anticipation. With hope. Believing they will come.
Often the tree is bare. There is a fleeting moment of slight disappointment. I look again more deeply in case I missed someone. Then I turn my attention elsewhere. Trusting that the next time I look I will have a visitor.
I trust the birds. I. Trust. The. Birds. I might wonder what it is that has caused them not to appear in my yard. But I look again and again and again because I know they will come back. I have faith in these tiny creatures to return.
And yet … I don’t give God as many chances as I do the chickadees. I am guilty of giving up on God to answer my prayers or intervene in a situation well before I abandon the possibility of cedar waxwings arriving in our crabapple tree. That doesn’t make sense. How can it be that my actions show a greater faith in a bird than in the Creator of the bird?
My heart finds joy in the many birds that visit my birdfeeder. Their presence is a salve that reaches through my numbness and brokenness and makes me smile. I believe that God is delighted that His creation touches my soul so deeply. But how much more would God’s heart burst if I could find that same delight in Him throughout the day? What if I sought God as earnestly and eagerly as I do a pine grosbeak? All day and all night and not just during my devotional time?
The truth is, I know the answer to that question. Once upon a time, or more accurately six years ago, I could not get through my day without intentionally connecting with God every hour. My heart was shattered, my body weary, and the raw pain unbearable to carry on my own. God was my oxygen for months. He wasn’t breathing new life into me yet, first He was just making sure I could breathe at all.
My morning began with devotions and worship music as I prepared for my day. Every break time at work included reading an online devotional or something that encouraged and enabled me to draw closer to God. I had scriptures written on colourful sticky notes that I fastened to my bulletin board and computer monitor to help me refocus my thoughts at any moment. I memorized God’s beautiful words so that they were always accessible to me. And then I read and sang some more. At the time, my heart was so broken that honestly, my intent wasn’t to grow spiritually. It was simply to survive. But I found myself doing more than just surviving. I began to thrive. I fell deeply in love with Jesus. And as I saw myself through His eyes, I began to love myself for the first time.
And then, the crisis began to fade. My wounds had been tenderly bandaged. My personal healing and faith journey had become my new lifestyle. Many of my new habits remained. And still do. But when the pain subsided, when I witnessed and experienced my own ashes being transformed into beauty, well, then, the old sticky notes were not always replaced with new ones. Some of the online devotionals remained in my inbox unread.
When I didn’t feel the same need for Jesus, I stopped seeking Him as intensely. But I don’t just need Jesus sometimes. Jesus isn’t only for the times when I’m weeping or rejoicing. On the ordinary days, I need Him too. And the more I seek Him, the more I spend time with Him, the more I understand that and want to. The ordinary days become not quite so ordinary after all.
This morning, the common redpolls are foraging through the sunflower seeds in my yard. And God? I see Him everywhere I look.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7,8