"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The War of the Cardinals

“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6 NLT)

The war between the Cardinals and the Red Wing Blackbirds are starting up in my back yard. It seems the Carolina Chickadees are on the side of the Cardinals while the Finches are remaining neutral. Yep, I’m watching the daily antics of the privet birds from my perch in my home office window as they do battle over the various feeders hanging from the deck. The privet that grows between our backyard and Camp Creek is the home to, seemingly, hundreds of birds and other creatures of the wild.

The Cardinals have come to live in the privet in vast numbers this summer. I can look out the back windows and see flashes of the bright red males and paler brown-red females. They will come to the feeders, feasting alongside all the other species on their favorite sunflower seeds. They all behave and get along with each other in privet-world. However, this season the newest generation of Red Wing Blackbirds are swooping into the backyard, flower beds, trees, and yes…even into the trees and bushes of privet-world. When they flew into the area, the sun was darkened and the sky looked as if it were alive in motion. Long hidden fears from the movie, “The Birds,” arose to the surface as I first saw them coming. The ground was quickly covered as these blackbirds with the red slash on their wings descended and spotted the feeders hanging around the decks.

Attacking all the other birds, they took over the seeds and drove the cardinals, finches, and wrens, buntings and even the thrashers back into their privet haven. When other birds attempt to come back, the “not wanting to share” birds will chase them away. Wishing that the privet-world birds could arm themselves to defend their food supplies, I watch this daily drama of the bigger and bolder mean birds terrorizing the pretty little nice songbirds. If only the killer hummingbird from last year was still around this summer to take on the blackbird army. That would be a battle worth watching and I’m sure that the privet-world birds would be clapping their wings in joy.

As I watch, I think about the redwing blackbirds in my life. Not meaning the physical birds smirking on the feeders outside my window, but the things that cause me to want to go to the safety of a privet-world. The situations that I allow to steal my joy and suck all the pleasure out of the day are just as dominating and ruthless as those birds that overtake the source of food and pleasure from other birds.

My biggest Blackbird is worry. I can work up a good worry party before you know it. Money, health (mine and that of family and friends), jobs, stress, car troubles, crime; these are the major ones in my worry box. However, I can throw a worry party about things that are absolutely ridiculous. Usually I worry about things that will be worrying me next. I’m retired and trying to make ends meet with only my retirement check and a part-time job, so you can imagine who the guest of honor is these days at my parties. I worry about (in general) what is going to happen tomorrow. I can even work up a good worry about you and what’s going on in your life. As I allow worry to run rampant in my spirit, I am also allowing it to steal my joy – the joy of everyday living, but most importantly, the Joy of my salvation. What are we told in the scriptures? “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything.” “Give Him all your worries because He cares for you.” “When you walk through the fires, you will not be burned because I am the Lord your God.” Plus, that whole passage about sparrows and lilies not toiling and spinning, yet God takes care of them. Yeah, I know all that, but I still struggle.

All these and more can bring my mind and heart back to the reality that God is in control of my life…. not me. I can’t hire myself, I can’t defeat crime (shocked?), I can’t guarantee good health, I can’t be assured of money in the bank, and on and on and on. Did you notice the keyword in the above sentences was I? That’s what God wants me to remember. I can’t do anything. God is in control…in His time, not mine. I just have to be faithful and not sin by worrying because that's like telling God you just don’t trust Him enough. Now, what are your blackbirds? Intolerance (yeah, I’ve got that one), temptations of the world (again, got it), impatience with others (sigh), and on and on it goes.

Just as the blackbirds steal the food source from all the other birds, we all have those things that cause us to lose our food source with God. Trust God and come out of privet-world to claim victory against the invaders in your own life. You don’t want to make me have to worry about you, too, do you?

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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