Today, I would like you to meet my new neighbor. In the past week, a bird has begun building this year’s nest in the corner of my office window. My desk is no more than three feet away from this new home. He (or she?) knows I exist, but as long as I don’t get too close to the window, I don’t seem to frighten the bird away. I am looking forward to watching eggs hatch and chicks feed from this vantage point in the upcoming season. Already, I am enjoying how my neighbor is carefully constructing the family home, one mouthful of mud and twigs at a time.
The Bible makes a few comments about birds’ nests:
If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life. (Deuteronomy 22:6-7 NIV)
This instruction appears in a strange, seemingly disconnected segment of Old Testament law – take a minute to read the whole chapter! Many of the commands surrounding this passage have to do with respecting life: human, plant, and animal alike. How often do we think about our treatment of animals or our use of natural resources as an issue of stewardship? Is our well-being dependent on our interactions with other species in God’s creation?
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. (Psalm 84:1-4 NIV)
My new neighbor’s nest is extremely fragile; in a matter of seconds, I could open the window and destroy all the work that has been done. Yet the fragility of the nest pales in comparison to its setting: a brick building is quite stable and secure. Are we constructing our fragile lives around a solid foundation? Do our souls find their place of safety in the house of the Lord?
Thus Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the wild birds nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NET)
When we build our lives on the good news of Jesus Christ, we are participating in something much larger than ourselves. Our spiritual family tree has its roots in Jesus; his kingdom is vast and all-encompassing. Are we living as members of the kingdom of God? Are we working diligently to strengthen our own nests? Are we building meaningful relationships with those who are nesting in other branches? Are we inviting wanderers to find their home in this kingdom?
Let us learn from the birds of the air, for whom God cares. And remember, we are much more valuable to God than they are! (Matthew 6:26)