Tag Archives: sparrows

Telling Others

One of the things I enjoy doing on holiday is hanging up my portable bird feeder and watching birds come to it. It usually takes about a week for the birds to find it. We were at Drakensville for seven days and, in that time, the birds found the new source of food. They would fight each other to perch on the rim and eat seeds. In Karridene it took the birds a little longer to get comfortable with the feeder but, before we left there were communities of sparrows gathering under it. We had to keep guard for monkeys, however. I was looking forward to the birds in Scottburgh. Last year, in Scottburgh, we had hung our feeder right outside our motorhome back window which faced the sea. I could wake up and, without getting out of bed, watch the sun rise and the birds twittering around.

This year, although we are only two sites from where we were last year, hardly any birds visit my feeder. I’ve seen a single sparrow perch on the rim and once, a weaver. I don’t know what’s different. Normally once one bird finds the source of food, it doesn’t take long for all their friends and neighbours to arrive too. Not this time. It almost seems like this year, the birds didn’t tell others. They didn’t witness. Yes, there is at least one sparrow eating from the feeder and about four or five who visit to eat any dropped seeds on the ground, as well as a pair of rock pigeons, but I am going home with half a packet of wild bird seed.

Telling others, or “witnessing,” has been a sensitive topic for me ever since I became a Christian. In fact, the time I did pull out and decide Christianity was not for me, it was because I felt pressured to witness. I know as well as any other Christian about the Great Commission. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Witnessing has been described as one beggar telling another where to find bread. That’s what the sparrows didn’t do.

Two things have helped me. When I was much younger, I taught Sunday school. It’s much less threatening to tell children about Jesus than adults. Now that I belong to The Gideons International in South Africa, I have access to little pocket-sized Testaments and we are encouraged to hand out at least four a month. I don’t find that difficult. I tell people I have a gift for them and then explain a little about where to find help using the front section and the summary of the gospel at the back. I can’t make disciples – nobody can. Only the Holy Spirit can draw people to Christ. However, the little Testaments are a user-friendly tool I can use to carry out Jesus’ instruction in my small corner of the world.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You made me and You designed my personality. I want to follow Your commandments. Please help me to rely on You in all things and not to try to do things in my own strength. Thank You for the Bible, Your Word. May those I have gifted with the little testaments find You in their pages. Amen.

If It’s not Messy, It’s not Real

When one is on a camping holiday, one gets to observe birds up close. I saw sparrows having dust baths right outside our tent. I googled it and discovered that indeed it is a way they clean themselves. They work the dust into their feathers then flap their wings and give them a good shake and the dust cleans them from mites and grease. A messy way to get clean!

A sparrow having a dust bath

When I was in grade two, my teacher told us that, when Jesus was a boy, He crafted sparrows out of wet clay and they flew away. I never heard that story again. Today’s chapter from John Stott’s book deals with sparrows. For the first time since 1958 I read that story again. John Stott writes, “The so-called Infancy Gospel of Thomas preserves a rather charming story (though almost certainly not authentic) of Jesus as a boy of five. He and other children were playing together beside a stream, and Jesus fashioned twelve sparrows out of soft clay. When his father Joseph asked him why he was breaking the law on the Sabbath day, ‘Jesus clapped his hands together and cried out to the sparrows and said to them ” Go!”, and the sparrows took their flight and went away chirping.'”

My Bible reading today was from John 9 and deals with the story of Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind. “After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam.’” (John 9:6-7a NIV)

We all know what happened. But have we ever thought how messy it was? Jesus was standing with His hands covered in mud. The blind man was (presumably) led away to the pool with his face slathered with brown mud.

Fairy tales are neat and sanitised. “…and they all lived happily ever after.” Real life is messy. The Christmas card showing the immaculately clean baby in the arms of a serene mother, is not the reality. Giving birth is messy. It involves pain and blood. Lots of blood. Mary would have been exhausted, possibly tear-stained. Somehow we get it into our heads that when we become Christians, all our problems will disappear. That’s the fairy tale. The reality is that life is messy. It involves broken bones, times of struggle, hard work, disappointments and loss. Jesus never promised a problem-free life, only that He would be with us in the messiness. Jesus did not come to make life easy but to make men great. (I can’t remember who said that.)

So if life seems messy at the moment, don’t despair. Invite Jesus into the mess. He doesn’t mind getting His hands full of mud. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have preconceived stereotyped ideas about You. Please help me to come to grips with reality. You are much bigger than I can ever imagine. Help me to trust You implicitly , even in the mess. Amen.