We have a hummingbird feeder on the back deck of our home. One beautiful, red-throated bird carefully guards the source of nectar. He stands vigil to be sure that no other thirsty traveler stops at his station for refreshment. He attacks and sends to flight any who would try to infringe upon his private stash. Nonetheless, several other birds regularly challenge his proprietary rights and stealthily light at the trough. When discovered by Mr. Redneck, the intruders are aggressively chased away.
I have come to expect this territorial behavior of hummingbirds. My husband and I delight in watching as these small winged creatures dart back and forth across the sky chasing each other away from the nectar. At times, two contesting birds will circle one another spiraling high into the air as if engaged in a ballroom dance of well-rehearsed choreography. Other times they dive at speeds so rapid that the eye can barely catch the descent. They have us charmed by all their movements, not the least of which is their ability to pause their flight in an almost helicopter-style suspension while beating their wings so rapidly that the wings’ outline seems to evaporate into a blur right before our eyes. Oh yes, we are definitely fans of the hummingbirds.
A few weeks ago we noticed that our feeder was not allowing the sugary water to descend into the troughs where the birds insert their pipette fashioned beaks. My husband examined the apparatus and determined that the small hole at the top had become clogged and was not allowing any air into the tube. The chamber was acting like a vacuum, thus restricting the liquid flow. The birds had noticed it also. As we sat on the porch, Mr. Redneck approached within two feet of us and suspended himself at eye-level by flaring out his little tail to brake himself. After buzzing us for a short time, he darted off. Within moments, he returned, suspended, and stared us down again. After several such scoldings, we got the message and rose to fix the feeder.
While we applied our less than scientific repair of sticking an ice pick into the clogged hole, our guest of honor kept vigilant guard over his food source. I employed sufficient pressure until I had punctured the plastic dome. The vacuum seal was broken; air rushed into the dome; liquid poured forth into the trough. Did I say poured? I meant gushed. Liquid flooded the trough; jetted out of the beak-size holes; and emptied the feeder within less than five seconds – much to the surprise of both my husband and me. And what did Mr. Redneck do? He approached within two feet of us and suspended himself at eye-level by flaring out his little tail to brake himself and stared us down. I actually think that he shook his head at us in disbelief. Plus – he chirped. Our scolding had escalated to a whole new level.
Like amiable fans, we promised him that the feeder would be replaced expediently. We spoke comforting words, assuring words, repentant words. We promised that as soon as the store opened that morning, we would purchase him the new and improved model of the super hummingbird feeder. We were true to our word.
Matthew 7:11(NIV): “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children (or hummingbirds – translation mine), how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
The hall must have been awe-inspiring to the two women who were granted audience with the King. They came from humble origins and had chosen a profession that was without honor. Down the grand promenade they walked, dressed only in simple apparel of the peasantry class; while on every side, they were surrounded with the elegance and decorum of the King’s Court.
There he was, arrayed in all his splendor and seated on his throne. That day, His Majesty was both their judge and the mediator of their justice. The women, prostitutes who had both recently given birth to sons, were acknowledged and asked to present their cases.
“My roommate gave birth to a baby boy,” spoke the first woman, “and I likewise gave birth to a son only three days after her.” Fear caused her voice to quiver as she addressed the King. “One night, she rolled over on her son, and he suffocated under the weight of her body.” Tears rolled down the woman’s cheeks as her emotion shifted from fear to grief. She continued to testify: “During the night, she exchanged her dead son for my living son. I did not discover the deed until the next morning when I awakened to nurse my baby.” Her words conveyed a cry for justice as she petitioned for her child to be returned.
“No, the living son is mine,” shouted the second woman. Anxiety, anger, and aggression filled the tone of her voice as she recounted a different story. Both women ceased to be aware of their auspicious surroundings but instead could see only the environment created by their own immediate needs.
The King arose. All voices hushed. The court’s silence shattered the first mother’s eardrums. She could barely breathe as the weightiness of the moment pressed in upon her soul. Finally, the King spoke. He was prepared to announce his verdict. “Bring me a sword,” commanded King Solomon.
The entire court and the women watched as the King brandished the sword. Who would suffer the fate of his judgment? They waited. They watched. “Divide the child in two, and give half to the one mother and half to the other,” Solomon decreed.
Without taking time to think, pausing to reflect upon consequences, or waiting for the King to invite her to speak, the first woman cried out, “O, my Lord, give the living child to this one who is not his mother. Please, do not kill the boy.”
“Let it be neither mine nor hers,” resounded the second woman.
Solomon recognized the true mother. One showed pity to the child; one lacked mercy. One petitioned for life; the other demanded death. One conveyed a loving heart; while one revealed a covetous and callous soul. One sought the blessing of the baby; the other sought only the satisfaction of her own grief.
How grateful the first woman was as her son was returned to her arms. Again her voice quivered but this time overcome with emotions of gratitude. She thanked the King. She turned to exit the grand hall. Her eyes no longer surveyed the beauty of the palace. She was preoccupied with the beauty of her child’s face. She no longer felt like the ostracized and lowly class. She belonged. She was rejoined to her son.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the honored mothers who have laid down their own wishes to seek the well-being of their children! May the grandest King of all, Jesus, reward you with His benevolence for the love you have bestowed upon your children.
The cry for help comes in different forms. Sometimes, you see it when the eyes are downcast and tears cascade down the cheeks or because the shoulders are drooped and the hands hang limply at the side of the afflicted one's body. At other times you hear it when the troubled person cries out for help because the suffering soul cannot be silenced in its moment of distress. Whether spoken silently or spoken audibly, the cry comes. The cry can be heard. Those who are arrested by the cry hear the call to action. Love demands and love responds. Help is on the way.
Recently my grandson came upon a season of crisis. Challenges without and stress within produced a difficulty that rose beyond his ability to overcome without the aid of others. Graced with a family that is tightly woven together with the cords of love, he was immediately surrounded with help. Who of us has not been thrust into similar circumstance? I remember my bad accident that demanded the ER, surgery, healthcare givers, and the support of my family. I recall this past year's hurricane in Florida that threatened the security of my daughter and her family and that necessitated temporary housing, assistance with the basics of life, and emotional support. The cry for help comes at one time or another from each of us and to each of us.
The Bible tells the story of a man named Jairus. He was a ruler in the synagogue: a man of influence, a leader of the people, a helper of the multitudes. He had doubtless heard his share of tormented cries arising from challenging circumstances. The present day had brought him to his own calamity. His daughter lie severely ill and, apart from immediate intervention, would soon die.
Jairus lifted up a cry for help. His was an unconventional call but the emergency demanded it. Jairus knew about a healer in the town whose name was Jesus. However, the rulers in Israel had not approved of or affirmed this man. Jairus' companions would condemn their preeminent leader violating protocol, departing from the agreed-upon propriety, and breaking from the religious correctness. But Jairus could not stifle his cry. The muffled silence demanded by his position could not be suppressed. The aggrieved father sought out the healer and fell at his feet in worship. "I pray thee," the needy man cried, "come and lay your hands on my child that she may be healed."
Jesus heard the cry. Jesus agreed. The crowd was large because the multitudes had heard of Jesus' miracles and also sought him for his boundless mercies. But Jesus followed Jairus. Jesus was motivated by his cry. Along the route, word came that the child had died. Those who carried the news suggested, "Don't trouble Master anymore; your daughter is dead."
One can hardly imagine the emotional pit into which those words must have cast Jairus. Could he even hear or comprehend the words which Jesus uttered, "Be not be afraid; only believe."
This journey toward wholeness may have begun by the promptings of a father's desperation but the momentum shifted. Jesus went from being led by the needy to leading the needy; from being persuaded to help to persuading that his help was the answer no matter the level of desperation. Love had placed the demand and the greatest love had responded. Help was on the way.
The story ends with the child being raised from the dead. Jairus' daughter received an even greater miracle than the cry of her father had requested. Whether the synagogue leader would be accepted by his peers or not did not factor into the joy released when Jesus answered his cry. What a story! What a truth! Our cries for help only initiate a process. Our helpers stand ready to walk alongside on our road to recovery and insure that we reach our victory. To my grandson and to all of us whose life's journey brings us to an edge of calamity, may we be surrounded with those who aid. May Jesus journey with us. May we find new life at the end of our difficulty.