El McMeen on the loving kindness of God

A gold crowned Kinglet
A gold crowned Kinglet

This is a tale of two birds and how God both blessed and used them. It's a story of bondage and of freedom through the grace of God. The meaning of the events in question would have completely escaped me but for the wonderful counsel of the Holy Spirit!

The other morning I was preparing for the first meeting of our church's youth group, set for the next day. I am co-head of the youth ministry - a position I've never held before. The Lord had already gently deflected me from the path I had been on and set me on the path that demonstrated that the mission is all about love. (I had been getting tangled up on logistics, procedures and methods - probably a vestige of my unrenewed lawyer mind!)

But more was to come!

After breakfast, I glanced out the window by our front door and standing there was a beautiful little bird. My internet research revealed that it was a "gold crowned Kinglet."

I called my wife Sheila over, took a camera and tried to photograph it through the window. That failed. It was a cold day and I was wimping out on opening the door and taking the picture; but I soldiered on, opened the door and got the picture. The bird was blinking but didn't move. That seemed odd.

Then Sheila said that she had heard a thump on the window and that if that was the little bird, then maybe he was stunned. That was plausible; the little bird was just standing there.

So I opened the door and moved closer to the bird. He seemed all right, but when I drew even closer, it became clear that he had injured his little leg. He moved a little and was kind of dragging the leg.

So what had seemed like a cheerful little bird was, in fact, a broken little bird. That grieved me, but another situation with a bird that happened last year-which I will describe later and is powerful-encouraged me to help out. I cupped the bird in my hand and encouraged it to move. After an uncertain hop or two, the bird flew off!

So I went upstairs and took a shower, thinking about all this and the Holy Spirit did His usual awesome job of connecting the dots for me. The first revelation was that my wife had discerned the brokenness in this bird before I did. That alone gave me good reason to reflect on God's work in the male and female, the way gifts are distributed and how the genders must stay connected for the work of the Kingdom.

The Lord showed me some other things. First, the little bird was broken, but you couldn't tell from his outward appearance. You could tell only by drawing close, earning his trust (or what passes for that in the brain of the little bird) and investigating in a non-threatening way. How true is that for life and for relationships with our fellow human beings!

But the second thing the Lord showed me was huge. The little bird had a broken leg, but because of that clearly did not believe he was able to fly. The leg and the wings had always been connected in his mind and so it was natural for the bird to feel completely incapacitated. But he wasn't! With a little encouragement, that bird was able to rise above his brokenness and take flight!

The world is full of broken and hurting people who look ok on the outside. We won't know they need help unless we have discernment on this and take steps to help, in faith and love. As in the bird's case, the brokenness was real, but the bird-with help-was able to understand the power he didn't know he had and thereby to overcome the brokenness.

The Holy Spirit went even deeper with me. In the summer of 2008 there was another bird story. We were eating dinner and heard a rustling in the garage. We thought it was a squirrel and didn't pay it much mind. After a while, we detected a struggle - a shuffling noise, then silence; shuffling, then silence.

We went to the garage and discovered a small but horrific scene. A little wren had gotten stuck in one of the glue traps that the exterminator had put out for mice (we have since gotten rid of all those things).