We grab our margaritas, a bag of tortilla chips, and a jar of salsa as we head to the deck of my parents’ home overlooking the beautiful Barkley Lake in western Kentucky. These are holy moments for me, as we sit together as a family enjoying one another. We laugh, talk, and revel in the beauty of the sunset. We are awestruck by the creation surrounding us. The water is smooth, glass-like, and shimmering. The trees stand tall and proud, filled with shades of green. The birds are numerous and varied—cardinals, finches, martins, and hummingbirds.
I love the hummingbirds most of all. These thumb-sized “flying jewels” entertain us with their swiftness and dazzle us with their brilliant colors of emerald green, glossy black, and shiny red. They dart rapidly back and forth, enjoying the sugary concoction my mother lovingly prepares on summer days.
Sometimes these tiny birds lose their way and get trapped inside the garage. The way in was easy but the way out appears to be a mystery. Their instincts mislead them. Flying high has always worked, until it didn’t. The way to freedom is down, not up, but they don’t know this. Not yet.
My husband and I stand by idly, but not without compassion, as we watch our feathered friends bump against the ceiling over and over. Their determination is astounding but utterly fruitless. We long to help but know our efforts might harm them, so we wait, knowing that in time they will come to the end of their strength and fall to the floor in utter exhaustion.
Scared, helpless, frustrated. All effort ending in futility.
Trapped, exhausted, disoriented. Longing for freedom.
Just Like the Hummingbirds, Our Efforts and Instincts Don’t Always Deliver
Not so long ago, this was my story.
I too longed for freedom. My heart yearned for peace, joy, and rest. I sought to find my way: Bible study, church attendance, prayer, service, and giving. Bump. Bump. Bump. With each try, I found myself “hitting the ceiling” until my head hurt and I was left dazed and confused. My instincts yelled, “Don’t give up! Keep trying! This is the way!” With all the energy I could muster, I was up and at it again, convinced the way out was up! If only I upped the effort; if only I didn’t give up! But my efforts didn’t deliver the expected results, and I fell to the ground in utter exhaustion a lot like my bird friends. Maybe you can relate?
It’s scary being on the floor, being helpless, seeing no way out. But the way out is down. We don’t go down easily or intentionally. We only go down when all self-effort results in defeat and disappointment.
But, Rest and Help Are Near
What these birds and I didn’t realize was that once we are still, then rescue and release are just around the corner!
In our stillness, the Father, like my husband, stoops down and gently lifts the weary one. He places the trembling treasure in the palm of His hand, and kindly offers sweet, life-giving sustenance that He has prepared for just this time and administers it when the anticipated moment arrives.
Like nectar to the hummingbird, His words bring life. Can you hear Him saying, “Dear one, the way to life and freedom is not in the doing but in the being. Be loved, be still, believe.”
As we drink in this truth, life and strength return, and He launches us into the world to fly and enjoy the freedom He has always longed for us to have. Then He mercifully closes the garage door.
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