The other day I was sitting in a rocking chair on our porch, soaking in the gorgeous Spring day when a tiny sparrow flew up to my bird feeder. It flitted about the way that sparrows do, hopping around the perch and quickly pecking at the food like a kid stealing cookies. The little guy spend about 30 seconds picking at the food and then flew into the yard to find more. I couldn’t believe his lack of forethought! There was literally more food than he could ever eat in that feeder and I had an enormous bag in the apartment with even more food if he should somehow finish it. I had literally bought this bird feeder for this express purpose. The only reason that it exists is to feed him, and yet after taking a few bites, he flew away to find another source of food.
So that got me thinking. What would I do if I were a bird? I played this scenario out in my mind. I would probably be a bigger bird like a Cardinal or a Blue Jay, but I’m still mad about Joe Carter in 1993, so let’s go with a Cardinal…
I spend my little cardinal days flying around looking for food and avoiding hawks when one day I find this magical food source. It contains a special combination of nuts and grains designed specifically for my diet. Oh it’s delicious! And best of all, it looks limitless. So that’s it. I’ve found my source of food. My search is over! I build a nest in the rhododendron under the bird feeder so that I never have to go far to get my food. Since I’m no longer spending my time looking for food, I now have a ridiculous amount of leisure time that I plan to fill with noble endeavors like cardinal-art, cardinal-architecture, and cardinal-philosophy. Maybe I will finally write the next great cardinal-novel. Instead, I spend most of my time watching cardinal-Netflix and cardinal-YouTube videos of cats getting outsmarted by birds.
One day, I notice that there are some stupid sparrows eating my food, and I start to get worried. Previously, I had imagined that there would be enough for me forever, but what if I was wrong? What if there isn’t that much after all? What would happen if something were to break and I lost my food supply? Everything that I worked so hard for would be ruined!
So Cardinal-Zack builds a tiny wall around the feeding area with sharpened twigs and writes menacing warning messages on the outside with crushed up berries. That seems to work for the most part, but now I spend most of my days in my cardinal-mansion trying to calculate how much bird food is left and how long it will last me. I start to wonder if there are other bird feeders out there, but decide that leaving this one would be too risky. The best thing to do is to just keep an eye out for problems and protect this food source for as long as I possibly can. After all, better to be safe than sorry!
Then, I start to think that maybe I should start saving some of the bird food in my rhododendron just in case there is a problem with the main supply. It’s always good to have a backup!
A few months earlier, I was spending my days flying around looking for food, and now my days are spent sitting inside of a bush, growing fat on sunflower seeds, and worrying about running out. What kind of a life is that? What kind of freedom is that? Where is my joy?
I laughed at myself thinking about how stupid cardinal-Zack was and suddenly I realized the wisdom in that silly little sparrow. He does not see the world like I do. I see scarcity. I see a bank account that is too small for the amount of things that I feel like I need. I often feel like there is just enough to get by and not much to spare. That sparrow found my limitless supply of food, ate some, and moved on because he sees the world as a limitless supply of food. To a sparrow, my backyard is all he will ever need, so he does not feel the need to worry about storing up food for the future.
In Matthew 6, Jesus famously said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Jesus was speaking directly to cardinal-Zack. He was speaking to the tendency to anxiously hoard our blessings for fear that they will be our last. We often live like survivors of some kind of cataclysm, rationing out our last can of beans for fear of the marauding bands of renegades and/or zombies.
But that is not reality! You have enough. There are enough hours in the day for life, love, and all of the goodness that comes with that. You have enough energy inside of you that you can go out and volunteer and meet some people. You have enough money that you can share at least some of it with someone who is in need. I have found that the people who have the least are often the most generous.
God has filled the world with goodness. Joy, contentment, and wonder are all over the place, but we will never see them from inside our fortified rhododendron. You will never see the bounty in the world around you when you are so focused on your bird feeder.
So, practically, what does that mean? Take some risks! God loves taking risks. Everything that Israel did was risky. Saving the world through a peasant baby was pretty risky too! Step out! Turn off the TV, leave Facebook for tomorrow, pick up a hobby, meet some people, serve someone, or learn a new language. Write a poem, volunteer at an animal shelter, read a book to a child, or finally start learning Yoga. Stop waiting until you have enough energy or time to do that thing that you have been really wanting to do. Do it now! Your energy will come. Trust that God has given you an abundance of everything that you need. Trust that the world is filled with bird food and scarcity is an illusion. Trust in God and look for abundance!