Monday, July 31, 2017

Wonderfully Made

My student hollered across the arena for at least the fifth time of the morning, "Hey TeBow! Hey Kailey*!" I chuckled and shook my head at the adorable, friendly boy who was my morning lesson. Kailey responded to Mitchell's declaration with silence and a small wave. After some encouragement from Anneliese, her teacher, she responded with a quiet hello in return. While walking away Mitchell asked me in a reserved tone, "How come she is different?". At first I considered whether Mitchell was making fun of Kailey but that was not the case. He genuinely was interested in why he was so friendly and she was so quiet. I explained to him that God made each and every single one of us uniquely different. Some people burn out from talking to people while others get their batteries recharged from discourse with friends. Some people like sweet over salty (Though why people do I don't understand). The Bible says in Psalms "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14) We are all different but made by the same God and Father. If you ever struggle with why God made you the way you are remember that God doesn't make mistakes. If we were all the same this world would be an incredibly boring place. Your uniqueness was given to you by God, the Creator of the universe, who made you wonderfully. I pray that Mitchell's question would fill you with awe of our Creator because He made all of us differently to bring honor and glory to the great Artist of humanity.
~Philip

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Letting Go

     The sparrow fluttered its wings, feet still grazing the dirt and sand below it.  It went no where.  Resting for a short spell, it once again worked its wings, attempting to leave the Earth, but to no avail.  I squinted in the morning light, curious as to why.  Then I saw the long strand of torn hay netting, stretching from the small bird's beak across the sunlit gravel.  The nester could not take flight because the burden she wished to bring with her was too large for her to carry.  Freedom was in her wings, but she could not grasp it without letting go of the netting.
     Obviously the sparrow felt this material was important for the nest she wished to build because she spent some time trying to make it work.
     It made me think of the earthly things we cling to as well.  We long for freedom in Christ, but we are determined to bring out baggage with us--we don't want to let go.  So we flutter and try and fall and wear ourselves out.  We are driven mad by the liberty to be had, but we simply cannot let go of that so important material that we want to bring with us.  We don't want to accept the life Jesus has for us unless it includes what we hold so tightly to.
     Finally, with one last look at the hay netting, the bird dropped the strand it had tried so hard to carry and flew away, free and light.
     I don't think we always get to drop our burdens so easily, but in letting go we do get to experience true freedom--not only in flight, but in no longer "needing" what we thought we needed.  We drop our addictions and find life full in purpose without them as we come under the Master's training.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Compassion

     Birds love to nest right inside and above our enormous barn door.  Every year we watch them swooping in with twigs, hair and other building supplies.  Soon, the twittering above the door increases and we see the birds bringing different supplies into our barn: worms, grubs and other bugs, the treasures of parent birds with young mouths to feed.  The barn becomes alive with the sound of many a small bird attempting to demand food above the cackle of its siblings while the mature birds bicker over property lines and bawk at the sight of us intruding humans.
     For the most part, I enjoy this noisy orchestra and the bustle of birds floating in and out of the barn (minus the days I find myself cleaning their mess off of walls, stall doors or the floor).  What I do not enjoy are the dead, naked baby birds we tend to find on the barn floor during this time of year.  Muscled out of the nest by stronger siblings, the weaker birds fall to the concrete below, helpless to save themselves if not dead on impact.  It is one of the most pitiful sights I have ever seen.
     This "Survival of the Fittest" rule amongst animals is a harsh one, and every year it pains me a little to see the demise of something so helpless though I know it is part of life.  This year, the sight of those little birds struck me with another thought--that we humans are blessed with the choice to play by a different rule--the rule of compassion.
     We can choose to help those who cannot help themselves.
     Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Compassion as "sympathetic consciousness of other's distress together with a desire to alleviate it."  In Luke 10:33 we read about the "Good Samaritan" who was "moved with compassion" to help a man whom most would have considered his enemy.  Christ-like compassion is powerful and it is through the weak, the poor and the needy that we learn this Christ-trait best.  We need them, which is perhaps why Jesus promises that we will always have them among us (Mark 14:7).