I came home and slumped into my favorite chair. I needed a time-out before getting dinner ready. The day had started off well but after the doctor called with my biopsy results I was having trouble keeping my spirits up.
As it turns out the bruise-like rash on my face that comes and goes as mysteriously as the wind was something after all. When I was expecting it was nothing but an irritation to be dealt with, I got the opposite news.
Getting blood work done after the bad news depressed me even more. Nobody goes to the hospital’s lab on a Friday afternoon at happy hour unless they’re a vampire and I swear the lab tech looked like one.
“I have to take a lot,” he said with a lilting voice.
“What’s a lot?” I asked. With a mischievous smile he held up two handfuls of vials.
This was the last straw for me emotionally. I went from concerned to numb all over. The needles didn’t make me feel faint; it was the situation at hand. Now my worry wasn’t my actual health as much as it was how I would find the strength to deal with it all. Overwhelmed my fighting spirit was drained just like my vein.
Exhausted I knew right where I was headed when I got home—my spot by the window to watch the birds. Of course the minute I sat down I noticed that my bird feeder was as empty as I felt. Oh no I thought I haven’t filled it for days. It figures!
Feeding the birds that nest in the arbor that frames my deck has been a newfound joy. I’ve never had a feeder but in the spring when one little Black-capped Chickadee caught my eye I got suckered in. She was so fastidious building her nest I wanted to give her a hand. I knew she’d have hungry mouths to feed soon.
It took several days for her and all of the other nesters to actually discover the feeder but once they did I couldn’t keep up. Every bird in the wetland behind my house was perched and ready for me to fill it again and again. It’s very entertaining. I can linger near the window watching them and completely lose track of time which for a schedule-driven woman is a good thing.
For as much as I love feeding the birds though I don’t fill the feeder the minute it’s empty. Sometimes they have to wait a day or two. I always get it filled but probably not as fast as they would like. I’m not trying to prove a point or anything. I just know they can fend for themselves.
Watching my empty bird feeder sway with the breeze I finally re-grouped. Something pulled me out of the chair and I decided to fill it before I did anything else. I grabbed the seed and went outside. I’d swear the birds could hear me because the minute I reached for the feeder they started queuing up in the Aspen trees around my yard. Three cups of seed later when I went in the house and shut the door I saw them flock to the feeder. Sparrows, chickadees, doves, and finches all took their turns.
I was struck by how calm they were. None of them were stressed out. I’m not sure what a stressed out bird looks like but I imagine lots of fluttering frantic bird-brained behavior. Instead they all just took turns enjoying the food trusting it would not run out. It will of course, but somehow they’ve figured out it also magically re-appears. Like manna from heaven so is their birdseed.
Mission accomplished I went to the kitchen to start on dinner. Passing my penny bowl on the counter I remembered that pennies are my manna. They appear just like birdseed and I don’t stress about it. I know if I’m meant to have one God will put one in my path. That’s how it’s worked for over six years now.
With this reminder I suddenly realized the same would be true of my fighting spirit—it will come. God has told me so. I don’t need to be anxious about it. Like the birds of the field He will provide what I need. If that’s courage He’ll supply it. If it’s time to see specialists He’ll schedule it. If it’s words of encouragement He’ll send them and if it’s physical healing He’ll bring that too. Whatever is needed to fill me up and make me whole He will supply one way or another.
Why I panic when emotionally I feel like an empty bird-feeder I don’t know. I think it’s the resistance every believer feels when their faith is put to the test but I also think it’s the world around us. Empty is a state that is never embraced in our culture. We always want our cup to overflow and we worry when it’s not. We think a super-size portion is our right and if we’re not swimming in faith we question God’s provision.
However Jesus said if we have faith only the size of a mustard seed that’s enough. Maybe that’s why God will allow us to go without that full feeling. Like the birds can survive He knows we can too. Perhaps what He wants us to remember on the days we feel empty is that the smallest kernel of faith demonstrates as much confidence in Him as a big faith does when all is going well. To trust God when you’re on empty says your faith is bigger than your feelings which is good, because feelings are just like birds—they come and go depending on how you feed them.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do no sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” -Matthew 7:25-27