Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Love a Mockingbird

CC Image courtesy of Chuqui on Flickr
~ Until recently, the mockingbird really wasn't my friend. Let's face it--once you've been dive-bombed by a bird, you're never quite the same. Just last summer, a mockingbird decided to build its nest close to an area in the yard where I park my car. Every driving excursion soon turned dangerous --or humorous-depending on whether we're talking about my experience or the experience of those observing me. A ritual developed, which usually included me making a mad dash for the car. Sometimes I would make it to the point of safety undetected. Other times, I would get half way across the yard before hearing a squawking "war cry" from above. Much to my horror, the mockingbird would swoop down toward my head. This was usually followed by a flailing of arms and squealing on my part, much to the delight of passer-by drivers.

Another year has passed, and I believe the same mockingbird has returned. It has built its nest in the same spot as before, and I am wise to park elsewhere. I've also noticed that this year it seems to have brought a few more friends. While spending time with God and reflecting on nature, I was drawn to these creatures as they sang multiple songs and flew from one tree to the next. I just knew in my spirit that God had something to teach me through them.

Over the next few weeks I studied other things in nature, but my spirit would not let go of the mockingbird. One day I was walking around my yard when I heard high pitched cheeping coming from a mockingbird nest. Peering up, I caught a glimpse of baby birds being fed by their mother. After this observance, I began to allow God to minister more wisdom to me regarding this animal. No doubt, they are among the most territorial of bird species. "Why was this?" I pondered. Their nest is their territory and in it is their lifesource. God's answer hit me like a ton of bricks. As I listened further, God drew me to Proverbs 4:23. "Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life." I breathed deep. If God (through King Soloman) says the heart must be guarded above all else, it must be our most valuable possession--much like a nest is a mockingbird's most valuable possession. Look at a few scriptures regarding the heart:  Matthew 5:8 says "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!" The Lord told Samuel that "the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward apearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (I Samuel 16:7) Having a pure heart is one of the ways which a man may receive blessing from the Lord (Psalm 24:4-5). No wonder King David asked God for a clean heart! (Psalm 51:10) Why wouldn't God instruct us to guard it above all else?

"But what are we guarding our hearts against?" you may ask. Well, like the mockingbird has enemies from which to protect its nest, as God's child you too have an enemy. Apostle Paul tells us: "Be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring, seeking someone to seize upon and devour." (I Peter 5:8) It always amazes me when I hear about Christians who do not believe in spiritual warfare. Some are even deceived to think if they leave the devil alone, he won't bother them.  Friends, let us not kid ourselves. There's a reason God uses the picture of a lion to portray the devil instead of say, a sloth...but that's for another lesson. Ephesians 6:16 is quick to instruct us how to "extinquish all the flaming darts of the evil one." (English Standard Version) This verse lets us know attacks will come. There is no question about that. Even the mockingbird knows it must protect its nest from a predator.  Oftentimes, as seen in my own personal story above, one is unable to pass through the vicinity of a mockingbird's territory without being chased away. Turns out, a mockingbird is wise--it knows it can not just sit by and do nothing when a perceived enemy is nearby.  I am humbled as I meditate on this, for how many times do we as Christians sit by and refuse to fight when our enemy the devil prowls near our territory? How many times have we been caught sleeping spiritually while the enemy sneaks up and takes our ground?

The mockingbird knows it has life inside its nest to protect. Likewise, we also have life inside our hearts to protect. As we discover and accept all the truths and promises God has spoken over us from the time we were first formed in our mother's womb, our hearts become f
orever changed. We obtain godly confidence in who He says we are. With God's guidance and this newfound confidence, we are able to live the kind of life He intended for us to live all along. From our heart, this God-influenced life will begin to flow out-- as Proverbs 4:23 tells us-- thereby changing all it comes in contact with. As a son or daughter of God, you are meant to bring life into the world just as your heavenly Father brought life into the world. "God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life." (Genesis 2:7) Jesus tells his disciple, Thomas in John 14:6, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." I love that Jesus is vocal about who He is. He is certain about who God created Him to be, and He's not ashamed to proclaim it boldly.

Interestingly, the mockingbird is known for being one of the most vocal bird species and can oftentimes be heard singing throughout the night. More than that, the mockingbird is famous for using mimicry to copy the bird calls of other species--some of which are its enemies. I love the picture of the mockingbird learning the voice of its enemies and proclaiming loudly what it knows. Shouldn't we too learn the voice of our enemy, so we may be able to answer his accusations with words of truth? Isn't that what Jesus did when he was accused by the devil? May we become so keen at discerning the voice of our enemy that we are never caught off-guard. Ephesians 6:18 teaches us to pray at all times in the Spirit, keeping alert and interceding on behalf of others. Just as the mockingbird sings all day and well into the night, let us not grow weary when it comes to spiritual warfare.  When the "evil days" come (Ephesians 6:13),  may we be vocal and bold to proclaim who God says we are. Let us never be shy to remind the enemy that we are aware of his whereabouts, and if he so much as steps near our territory we will be ready to protect it like a mockingbird. ~

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