Humans of the Ground

My title is a riddle that is easily solved, but if you need a clue I will tell you of a weekly tradition that Anne and I have. Our “date night” consists of a visit to Chipotle (a Mexican grill.) Weather permitting, we like to sit outside and enjoy the foliage, which happens to be a local neighborhood for the cutest little “birds of the air”, that I enjoy feeding. Riddle solved.

My feeding of the birds is chiefly for entertainment and secondarily out of compassion and kindness. If you have bird feeders around your home, you can relate to both motivations. Consider this verse from Deuteronomy: If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.” Wow – being kind to birds just took on new meaning! The Greek poet Phocylides (circa 500 BC) penned a similar thought: “Nor from a nest take all the birds away, the mother spare, she’ll breed a future day.” So much for obscure bird knowledge from the Old Testament; let’s jump to the Gospels for some relevant truth!

We “humans of the ground” are clearly instructed to consider the “birds of the air” lest we succumb to worrying about life. Luke 12:24 says, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” How valuable, how treasured, and how prized, we are! This is a truth meant to sustain us when the shadows of worry are encroaching. When I allow circumstances to define me I begin to consider other options by which to feel better. Hence the many elaborate schemes that the enemy of our souls will launch in order to get us off track.

After we’re encouraged to consider the birds and the lilies, to not worry about provision, to seek first His kingdom, and to lay up treasure in heaven, the chapter closes with a probing statement: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  If negative circumstances are wielding a strong control over me, perhaps I’ve overly invested my treasure in their outcome.

So, fellow human, be inspired by the birds of the air and remember the experience of the prophet Elijah. He had just prophesied a drought to the evil King Ahab and the word of the Lord came to him to hide himself. To survive, God said, “You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.” Talk about role reversal! There are at least three miracles involved here. One, raven food is carrion; which is dead and decaying flesh. They are not attracted to the same cuisine as we humans! Two, it’s a miracle that the bird wouldn’t keep the meat for himself. And three, the fact that the raven would come close to a person. On top of all that, ravens were categorized amongst the likes of owls, bats, and storks. They are called by God “detestable.” I’m sure that Elijah was relieved when the next time he had to run and hide (from Ahab’s wife) that God provided an angel to cook for him instead of “Raven Delivery.”

We can be sure that God will meet us in our most trying times, to reveal both His heart and our heart: to remind us of how treasured we are in His eyes, so that the “value” card trumps the “worry” card and to reveal the “misplaced treasure” occupying heart space reserved for Him alone.

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