Think like a bird.
Back in kindergarten, this naughty boy taunted me on the playground, “Bird Brain! Bird Brain! You’re nothing but a Bird Brain!!”
That mean mockingbird.
I wanted to cry at the time, because even though I hadn’t taken any science classes yet to know the actual size and capability of a bird’s brain compared to that of a human, at age five I was confident that anyone who likes to eat worms couldn’t be that smart.
But these days, I sometimes wish I had more of a bird brain. Listen to me chirp for a moment.
This past Sunday, I spent the day on the shore of Lake Michigan with some wonderful friends, and the whole bird brain topic came to my human brain again. First of all, it was just plain relaxing to watch all the seagulls who seemed to have only one thing on their minds, which was to eat my friend’s potato chips.
These birds didn’t look worried. They didn’t look like they had struggled with insomnia the night before like I had. They seemed to have a single focus on being fed. They weren’t a “desperate hungry,” as their bellies looked like these birds had sought and found food the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that…
Instead, they were a confident, single-focused kind of hungry. At least that’s how they seemed.
Matthew 6:26-27 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? (NLT)
Here are some other bird-watching observations I made:
They didn’t seem particularly rushed as if they had placed forty other items on their to-do list for that day. And they didn’t seem to be congregating to discuss strategies of finding other things that could possibly fulfill them even more than the food on that beach.
They were willing to wait for the food crumbs to fall, or for the humans holding the food to generously share. (In other words, they weren’t control freaks about exactly how the food got into their beaks.)
They didn’t seem to be questioning their worthiness to receive food. They didn’t seem to be holding back, looking at one or two of the gulls in the group and thinking, “If only I had the feathers and legs SHE has, I could get more food.”
No. They confidently and intentionally did what they were created to do, and they seemed pretty relaxed about it.
In free-spirit seagull style, my girlfriends and I ventured away from our husbands for some “girl time.” We ended up sitting on some therapeutic rocks that acted like surround-sound speakers for the gently crashing waves.
Our conversation landed on confessions of being told (and agreeing with our tellers) that we tend to overthink and overcomplicate things. We praised (and maybe envied) our husbands for their ability to relax and enjoy an event, a task, or a relationship, just by keeping it simple.
We talked about how we can even overcomplicate our walk with Jesus, especially during those seasons when we don’t feel His presence. We start to wonder what we’re doing wrong, or how we can “fix” this spiritual dehydration.
I told the girls the story of how my husband patiently listened to me for about an hour on our recent drive home from Pennsylvania, as I told him all my questions, feelings, and concerns about my walk with Jesus.
“Maybe I’m not reading my Bible enough. I wish I would’ve studied it more in the last two decades so I could maybe hear God speak to me better now. Maybe I need to just pray more. How come I don’t hear God talk to me directly like my friend so-n-so seems to every day, or like I did when I first gave my life to Him? What if He wants me to spend less time blogging and more time telling non-Christians about Jesus? Am I the only one feeling this way?”
After what seemed to be a really long time of me spewing out all my “spiritual worries”, my extremely patient husband gently and kindly responded with just one question:
“Can you ever imagine Jesus looking you in the eye and lovingly telling you that maybe you just need to take a chill pill?”
It was just what my soul needed to hear.
If you’ve been in the same boat (or on the same beach) as some of my friends and I have, let me end this post in simple seagull fashion.
#1 Be confident about your value. (Matthew 6:26)
Remember, when Jesus asked, “And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are,” it wasn’t a question. He was making a statement: “Yes. You are far more valuable to God than these well-cared-for birds are.”
#2 Narrow your focus. (Jeremiah 29:13)
All the seagulls were looking for that day was food. They weren’t thinking, “Oh, I know I should look for food, but I have so many other things to do. I’ll look for food if I have time after I get the other things done.”
Birds were made to enjoy food. We were made to enjoy God.
Our loving heavenly Father said to us through the prophet Jeremiah, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NLT)
I LOVE these words by A.W. Tozer, in his book, The Pursuit of God:
“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary things may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”
#3 Find a good flock. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
Okay, so seagulls probably don’t spend any time thinking about whether or not the other birds they’re hanging with are helping them or hurting them in their walk with Jesus. But they do one thing well—they don’t try to go it alone.
Another girl in our group on Sunday and I have been going through a season of feeling like we’re not hearing from God. But after Sunday, we both agree that we heard and felt God loving us through the encouraging words and the “being there-ness” of our Jesus-loving friends.
If you don’t have a Jesus-loving friend you trust, pray that God will bring one into your life, and be willing to invest the time in just being with others—even if you’re an introvert. 😉 Be willing to leave your comfort zone to join a small group Bible study at your church, or invite someone who seems to have a growing walk with Jesus to lunch. If you don’t feel like you click with the people in that group or the person on that lunch date, in kindness, keep looking, and at the same time, humble yourself to be able to learn from all kinds of people.
If you have good Christian friends, be grateful for them, and look to be a friend to those who are still searching for one.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. (NLT)
Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (NIV)
Lord, help us to be like the birds who keep it simple and daily allow You to feed them. Feed our souls with You, in the way You see fit. Amen.