Monday, March 25, 2013

Robin Reflections

Sundays are simply a delight to me. Although I enjoy my relationship with God every day, I live life a little differently on the day traditionally set aside to worship Him to mark it as set apart.

It’s on that day of the week alone that I stop at McDonald’s to pick up a quick breakfast on the way to an early morning music practice session before church. I try to get to my parking spot down the road from the brick building early enough so that I can sit in the car for a few minutes and consume it while conversing with God. I mark the uniqueness of those moments by treating myself to a hot mocha instead of the usual coffee in my cup, but yesterday I had even yet to take a sip when God showed up in a big way.

As I savored the usually-forbidden flavor of the sausage McMuffin in my hand (the grease stains on the paper wrapper a good indication of why it was a Sundays-only moment), I was startled when something struck the driver’s side window beside me. A robin had landed on the edge of the door, so close to the glass that surely the tips of its toes hooked in the window slot were the only things holding it there! But there it stayed, despite how I jumped in response to its sudden appearance, cocking its head at me and eyeing me steadily. Amazed, I studied it in fascination; the bright orange of its breast feathers, the beautiful brown on it’s back, and the black eye rimmed in white that was inspecting me as closely as I was looking at it!

For the longest time we simply stared at each other. What was it doing, I wondered, and why was it there? Did my breakfast look as good to it as it did to me? Was my sausage McMuffin the draw? Robins eat worms they pull from the ground, I reminded myself. The are not parking-lot scavengers like the sparrows that peck about for left-over french fries. I didn’t understand.

Finally it flew to the grass on the side of the road next to where I’d parked. But just a minute later it landed back on the car again, this time on the passenger side at the bottom edge of the windshield, again looking interestedly at me sitting inside. Having never seen a robin act this way in all my life, it definitely got my attention.

Later I realized that was exactly the point.

I had deliberately set aside that time to visit with God, and yet His sudden appearance surprised me. The truth is that I didn’t expect Him to show up physically at all, much less covered in feathers.

We’ve become accustomed to hearing from God in certain ways. And it’s true that many times He simply speaks to our hearts directly, highlights His thoughts in our Bibles, or causes them to come out of the mouths of our favorite preachers or singers. But God is not limited to the confines of our church buildings or the boxes we place Him in. Instead, we’ve limited ourselves in our expectations of how He might appear to us, and so we walk right by His Presence in the burning bushes of our lives repeatedly. As a result He seems to take a special delight in surprising us, and enjoys our startled excitement when we finally recognize that He’s been right beside us in the “Emmaus moments” of our days.

His message to me yesterday was two-fold. Despite the wonder of seeing the brilliant color of its feathers up close, it was the bird’s black eye staring at me so intently that initially got my attention. Thus the first point was simply that He sees me.

Such an obvious conclusion shouldn’t discount it’s importance. Surely we all need to know that God sees us in the trials we are going through, standing at the base of mountains we can’t seem to climb, or blocked by obstacles we can’t seem to overcome. We truly wonder at times if God is aware of the difficulties we face and the issues we’re dealing with. The answer is a resounding yes. Life is so much easier when we know that we don’t struggle through it alone.

The second point is equally important, that being that God is simply interested in the details of our days. I smile to think of the way the robin cocked it’s head and watched me so intently as I consumed my breakfast. Is God truly interested in the little things of life, like what I might be having for breakfast, why I like it so, and what I’m thinking of doing next? I absolutely believe so. It’s the little details that we would only confide to an intimate friend that God is so hungry to hear Himself. His goal is to be first in our thoughts and closest to our hearts of any of those we are in relationship with.

He wages an uphill battle in that area, however, because we are so distracted by things we can see and hear (and in my case, taste). The visible draws our attention away from the unseen, and so God has to show up in truly spectacular or surprising ways to grab our attention and focus it back on Him. The physical world is simply at His back and call to call us back to Him, in Whom, as the Bible states, we truly live and move and have our being.

It’s been a long-standing issue with God. Even back in Bible days He was using the natural world He created and in which His people wandered to first grab their attention and then guide their steps. Stories of burning bushes, plagues of frogs and flies, traveling pillars of cloud and fire, droughts and floods fill the pages of His Book. Similarly has He filled the pages of my book(s), the journals I keep on an ever-present basis for the purpose of recording the many ways He’s shown up in my life simply to get my focus back on Him. Once you start seeing Him operate in such a way you find that you have more stories to tell in that vein than time to write them all down.

I’m grateful that I don’t serve a Sundays-only God, but one who is interested in the smallest details of my everyday life. It’s my constant prayer that He will open my eyes of expectation to see Him in forms and places that I wouldn’t ordinarily think to look. Today He sent a robin to remind my heart that it’s not the things I do on any given day that make it special, but rather His Presence in it that truly sets it apart.

“Heaven’s calendar has seven Sundays a week. God sanctifies each day. He conducts holy business at all hours and in all places. He uncommons the common by turning kitchen sinks into shrines, cafes into convents, and nine-to-five workdays into spiritual adventures.” - Max Lucado

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they…would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
(Acts 17:26-27 NIV)

7 comments:

  1. I love Sunday mornings, too. What a touching post.

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    1. Enjoy your Sundays! And thanks for visiting! :)

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  3. I love your analyses of daily life experiences, Elaine.

    Wishing you a blessed Easter weekend.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Susan! And you have a lovely Easter, as well!

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  4. thank you--this was beautiful <3

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  5. That was a lovely post, and I can relate. I have felt God's presence through nature at many times in my life, in joys and sorrows alike. It is such a calming and reassuring feeling to know He's there and He cares--there's nothing like it.

    Thanks for sharing your world.

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