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For the Birds
by Cara Hanson

When I was young, a certain bird who lived outside my window loved to torment me in the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t a songbird gently chirping a faint melody into the dawn, or a mourning dove plaintively cooing his love song. No, it was a cacophonous crow, daily piercing my sweet dreams with his grating “CAW! CAW! CAW!”

Later in life, when I got married and settled down into my new home, I gained a new personal alarm clock–a woodpecker I predictably dubbed, “Woody.” I would be sleeping in a peaceful bliss until his “Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!” would pound through my brain like a jackhammer at 4:00 in the morning. I started to wonder if this was why birds were used as a sacrifice in biblical times.

One night I was just drifting off to sleep to a CD of the gentle sounds of the rain forest, when suddenly a loud bird on the recording started screeching, “CAW! CAW! CAW!” My skin crawled as I shot straight up in bed. Either the bird from my childhood window got his own recording contract, or for some reason birds were torturing me. After all, this was supposed to be a relaxation CD, so I figured that I must be the only person in the universe who considered bird sounds distressing.

I could regale you with many more stories about my adversarial relationship with birds, including bird droppings, bird carcasses, and other “fowl” play, but I think you get the point. My so-called feathered “friends” had become foes. Thankfully, I have had a change of heart in the past few years. I didn’t even like birds at all…until I had children.

When all of our kids were babies, they would look up and point at flying birds with wonder and amazement. This unusual ability–flying–was something that caught their attention, and now it was catching mine for the first time. These creatures soar on high, physically closer to the heavenly realms than we could ever see. I noticed that birds are graceful, swift, and beautiful in flight. Guess who designed their flight mechanism?

Genesis 1:21 and 22
(21) So God created…every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(22) God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number…and let the birds increase on the earth.”

I realized that if God created birds and thought it was a good thing, then I had better get on the same page.

When I was 13 weeks pregnant with our firstborn, Grace, I was astonished by the sound of her heart beating 160 times per minute. When God created the hummingbird, He humbled us all by the fact that certain species can flap their wings 90 times per second. Not only can these birds hover in mid-air by their rapid flapping, but they can also fly backwards–yet another example of God’s awesome power and ability.

There are over 10,000 species of birds, displaying amazing variations of vivid colors. I have decided that God is truly the greatest artist of all time, since He knew just what colors to give birds that would perfectly complement their surroundings. Sorry, Monet and Rembrandt, your works are nothing compared to the contrast of a cardinal against a backdrop of freshly fallen snow or the goldfinch perched on a crimson rose. How remarkable that God loves us so much to care about the perfect details of His design.

Recently a friend shared with me her quest to find a little bit of God’s heart in all of His creation. After some considerable research, she and her daughter have been blessed to find a heart shape in various flower petals, nuts, and even–that’s right–on the wings of birds.

Imagine my surprise (not to mention reproof) when I realized that God gives us several examples in the Bible of how He has used birds to help mankind. Noah used both a raven and a dove to help him know when he could leave the ark. When Elijah was in need of food, God sent birds to bring bread and meat for sustenance.

1 Kings 17:4-6
(4) You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”
(5) So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.
(6) The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Ironically, the raven is a close relative of my childhood nemesis, The Crow. Just when I thought I understood why a group of crows is called a “murder,” He lays this one on my heart.

God even uses birds (ravens–ugh!) to communicate how much we are worth to Him:

Luke 12:24
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!

And again with sparrows…

Matthew 10:29-31
(29) 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.
(30) And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
(31) So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

If God feeds and takes care of birds, He must truly care for His own children! He even uses a bird–the robin–to bring us a sign for Spring. After a long, cold winter, not many sights lift the heart like that flash of red on a robin’s breast. The robin reminds us that Spring, the season of rebirth and renewal, is just around the corner. Oh, how much more loving could our heavenly Father be?!

Thanks to my children, I now revel in the sound of songbirds (I’m still working on crows). My husband lovingly pointed out that since God designed birds, He probably programmed their songs to be PRAISE music. Ever since then, that is all I can hear when I listen to their cheerful melodies. Our kids are ecstatic discussing what they think each bird is saying. “Praise Him! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!”

A bird sits in a tree that according to poet Joyce Kilmer, “looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray.” [1] Why wouldn’t God design everything He created to give praise? The next time you hear a bird singing its beautiful song, I hope your heart leaps in perfect harmony to the sounds of praise.

True Story:
The day after I wrote this article, a crow fell down our chimney, pushed open the door of our woodstove, and flew upstairs, creating chaos in our living room. He sat on the window sill and stared at me, obviously displeased with my disparaging remarks about his family. He then turned to fly out the window, which he did not realize was closed, adding injury to his insult. In a happy ending, I was able to open the window and guide him back outside. I can only imagine what he was telling his friends that night!

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