“Squawk, skraww, squawk, skraww, skraww”. My quiet walk with my dog was interrupted. I gazed into the winter sky as I helplessly watched a baby bird clenched in the giant claws of a red tail hawk being carried away. Feathers flying as the baby bird was fluttering to get free. I screamed, “Let go”, in the most authoritative tone I could muster. It didn’t. My stomach in knots and feeling helpless, I was mad that I had been a witness. I love nature and even though I understand this is all part of it, I would rather not wake to it. I kept walking fighting tears simultaneously asking God why I had observed this vicious act. The only thing I heard was the last shrill of the helpless bird in the distance and then all was quiet. I quickened my pace to get my car and with each step I became more upset.
Picking up my pace, crunching leaves beneath my feet on the forest floor, I happened upon a loud banter of birds. I stopped to look at the comotion of caws, squawks, and flapping of wings diving at another bird. There were dozens of birds attacking this one solitary bird. Moving closer, I recognized this was an entire community of crows flying and attacking a hawk who was in their territory. I was so happy to see this hawk being pushed away. Every time the hawk went to another branch, more crows followed squawking and flapping wings until the hawk flew to another tree. The crows did not give up. The hawk was still in their territory. They continued to follow the hawk from tree to tree and each time more crows joined in the battle. The longer the hawk stayed, the more aggressive the crows became. They hit the hawk with their wings and beaks slicing into the neck of the hawk. The crows were determined to drive the hawk away. They did!
I knew I had been given another object lesson. On the way home I pondered what I had experienced. Isn’t this a picture of the body of Christ? When we are solitary and isolate ourselves, it is easier for us to become “picked off” by the enemies’ accusations, suggestions and condemning thoughts. When we don’t surround ourselves with community, we are much more volatile. The little bird was in a tree all by itself and was quickly the target of the hawk. The birds that were in community joined together and were able to defend their territory.
I know the Christmas season is a time of year most of us reminisce times past: both good, bad. It is the season in which we may be reminded of what we don’t have, losses, whether it is a loss of never having or having and no longer have. Either way, our feelings are magnified at this time of year. All the cracks in our lives exposed and the depth and reality of disappointments, lost dreams and loneliness intensifies. Being single I can personally testify to these feelings. I can stay busy in order to numb out, but most often my mode of operation has been to isolate myself. In the past I would convince myself that being tired of living everyone else’s family tradition, I needed my own family and until I had that, I was not going celebrate. I can’t tell you how many Christmas days I have spent alone. It was not that I did not have offers, but really it was more difficult being with people who were happy. That is what I told myself. And please don’t give me any “christian-ese” either. We have too much religion. The Bible says that having a “form of godliness and denying the power.” 2 Timothy 3:5. I needed Jesus with skin. I needed those around to see my pain and love me where I was. I was not asking for scripture quoted which felt like being slapped in my face. I needed to experience the power of His love to meet me where I was.
Some of you are alone. Some of you have no family or are away from them. Some of you have no job and finances are at an all-time low. Some of you are surrounded by family, children and your home is outwardly decorated with beautiful lights and a nativity scene, but inside you are lost and empty and have no clue why you are still here. I called a friend the other day because I knew in my heart they were struggling. The first 15 minutes they tried to convince me that they were having a great holiday season. I listened. I asked a question: “in the silence or when the family is all in bed, what are you believing?” Silence and then I heard sobbing. We talked about what lies the darkness was speaking.
What are you believing? What lies do you hear in the darkness? I am single. I am alone. I want my own family. I have dreams. I have vision. These are things I cannot change. I could go on dating sites, drive my dreams to fruition and check them off of my list. But for me, this is not right. I am doing the things I am led to do, while I am waiting for His timing and plan to unfold. I no longer let silence whisper lies to me. How did this happen? This year God led me to stop getting up and grabbing my Bible and go through the motion of having “morning devotions.” I remember the first morning I heard, “shhh stop.” I renounced the voice because I was certain that it was the enemy trying to persuade me not to have time with God. It was not. The Lord gently spoke to my spirit, “Rita, just sit with me. I want to enjoy you. I am the Word. Right now I just want to be with you.” Those 15 minutes felt like hours. I was so accustomed to a routine, that I had missed the relationship.
Is this a hard time of year for me? Good grief, absolutely. The growth I have seen in my life is that I now know that I am not alone. I am on target, on track and on purpose and I sincerely believe that. Do I have days I chose not to believe that? Yes! However, if God knows every time a sparrow falls and that is a common bird in the Middle East, then how much more does He know my need and my sorrow? If He knows how many hairs are upon my head and the number of hairs that fall out in a day, then what is the scope of His understanding my heart? You matter. He cares. He sees you, hears you and understands you. Your life has a purpose and even though you may not have clarity, He is still working on your behalf. He never slumbers.
Today, just whisper His name, Jesus. He is there. He has always been there even in what appears to be silence. I have come to discover that what has felt like silence, were the times He was holding me more closely. When I paused and embraced the silence, I could hear His heartbeat and receive His love and without realizing it, my thoughts and beliefs about my life and situation changed. When I sat with that cup of coffee for those minutes with Him, something radically shifted inside of me. Over time, I no longer wanted to isolate. I wanted to be with people. And when I was with them, something had changed. I had changed. Today, wherever you are, my encouragement is to have a cup of coffee with Him and listen to His heart of how He feels toward you. Take a baby step and be with people. It is better to be with strangers, than be alone. Trust me, I have done both. The key is follow what He puts inside your heart in the form of a desire followed by peace. Your situation will change. One thing God cannot do, is nothing. He has you… God desires for us to be surrounded by community, especially as we learn to sing the song He has placed inside of our hearts. So sing your song and join the party. You are needed.