“And even when the brokenness surrounds, you are still good.”
One of the things that grounds me in life is to draw beauty out of the ashes. A favorite canvas for this is my tiny yard. From hues of green to flowers of many colors and feeders hung everywhere I can squeeze them, drawing birds into our little piece of earth; I yearn to feel close to God through his creation.
This morning, after my prayer time, I took a walk around the yard and over to the evergreen canopy where just a couple weeks back we found a cardinal’s nest hidden within the brush.
The cardinals are our favorite backyard birds. Did you know that cardinals mate for life? It’s really sweet to watch the male and female cardinals work together throughout the year. They don’t migrate so we get to enjoy the pleasure of watching them year round and sometimes they feel like old friends. Often times we will observe the male cardinal hanging out nearby, watching his mate get some seed from the feeders, keeping safe watch over her. We also love to catch the male feeding the female, beak to beak. Witnessing this really offers the opportunity of seeing beyond yourself and marveling at the awe and wonder of God’s design.
As I breathed in the fresh air and approached the nest, excited about soon getting to watch some baby birds launched into the world by mama and papa cardinal, my eyes were caught by a little lifeless baby bird on the ground, just below it’s nest that once sheltered it from harm. Perhaps it was the fall or maybe it was the heat, but I couldn’t help but wonder if only I had been out there when it happened that I might have been able to save him.
And there, in my backyard, just as the summer heat began to overtake the cool morning breeze, I dug a hole underneath that evergreen. As I buried the little fella, I grieved deeply for him while also thanking God for his all be it, short little life.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. That little bird seemingly lived out its purpose somehow and it’s beyond my understanding. Just as any life cut short is difficult to understand but that life mattered to God and it mattered to me too.
And in the sadness that I feel for such a tiny, little creature, I know that God is still good and I believe that he too grieves for the sad things of this fallen world. Yes, even the birds that he cares for. It is his world after all but it was never meant to be this way.
And though fallen, God had a plan and on that cross, his son overcame the world. And as we wait for our savior to return, we must live amidst the conflict that exists here, between the goodness and the brokenness. And somewhere in that space, we have a choice to make. Do we live into good stewardship of our blessings and the joys of this life and the beauty that pokes through the darkness or will we be overcome by it?
For me, the choice is an easy one because I know that in the end, the Heaven that we long for will hold within it bits and pieces of the good and the beautiful that we experience here on earth and the sadness and the pain and the darkness will be gone forever. In that truth there is a deep hope that stands against the spirit of fear and lies and suffering, allowing us to cling on to God.
In my own simple way, I choose to fight that darkness by bringing forth more light. And when the weight of brokenness feels too heavy, I will do what I can to draw out beauty from ashes and sometimes I’ll just toss more seeds into the dirt. Diligently, I’ll water them and hope for them to grow as I hope in new life. And in that waiting, I know some of those seeds will turn into something good and something beautiful, while others just won’t make it. Our plans don’t always turn out the way we hoped they would but I also know that nothing exists outside of God’s plan. Even the birds. Even the flowers. Even our own lives. What is meant to be, will be.
Life is fleeting, isn’t it? It’s also what we make of it in the short time that we have here. That bird could have never known it, but perhaps God allowed me to find him because he knew I needed to be reminded not to worry and in that reminder I feel so overcome by his immeasurable love.
“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 of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”Matthew 6:26-27
In remembering that God cares for all of his creation, and that within his plan, our days and moments are known before we ever come to be, we can trust in his goodness when worry tries to seep into our days. We can trust the maker and trust in his plan, no matter what the path ahead might look like.
I won’t ever know why that little bird didn’t get the chance to fly but I can only hope that he’s flying freely now in Heaven, above some incredible canopy in the Eden that couldn’t exist here once sin entered the world. That is after all the victory, isn’t it? That is after all, what we all strive for, even those of us who don’t know it. Freedom from suffering, everlasting joy and beauty where death and sin and pain cannot exist. Some will lean into goodness in their desire to find these things, while others will lean into the darkness. We all have that choice.
This afternoon, just above where I laid that little bird to rest, I planted some wildflower seeds. And there, amidst the darkness, new life will carry forth and beauty will exist where sadness once did. In the waiting for those flowers to pop up out of the earth, I know that his goodness will overshadow the darkness, as only it can. And when the flowers die back, and the ground hardens for a season, he is still good then and evermore.