We have a bird feeder mounted on the rail of our patio. All who sit at our kitchen table can enjoy watching as an array of birds stop by to eat. My husband and I even call to each other to come from another room any time that a new specimen arrives. The whole sitting-still-and-watching-nature-thing never appealed much to either of us in our younger days. But now, either because age has slowed us down or wisdom has finally caught up with us, we find ourselves regularly entertained by the winged-creature-follies.
Just yesterday I noted four doves, three sparrows, two blue jays, and one red-headed woodpecker vying for a turn at the feeder. I stood quietly and watched for several minutes. I had not seen a woodpecker or any blue jays throughout the summer. As soon as the blue jays flew away, a cardinal joined the gathering. He, too, had been absent during the warm summer days. I guess that the abundance of food sources available when the crops are growing gives these species more tantalizing options than the store-bought mix that we load into our feeder. However, when the harvest is over, the cold weather arrives, and the natural sources become scarce, they look for a storehouse of grain. Welcome to the Amsdens!
Scripture tells us to observe the habits of birds and learn a spiritual lesson. They do not build their own granaries but rather trust that each day will produce the food necessary for that day. We deduce from nature’s lesson that God, who has demonstrated his disposition toward providential and loving care with the birds, will likewise care and provide for us. We are admonished to have faith in God. However, the Bible doesn’t end its ‘lessons from the pages of creation’ with only one chapter on ‘bird watching’.
We are also instructed to consider the habits of the ant that labors to gather when food is abundant, stores it up, and has available portions for a season when provisions are scarce. The ant instructs us on diligence and planning. Ants don’t come looking for the Amsden’s storehouse during the winter, for they have prepared a storehouse for themselves. Scripture says one who does not follow the leading of the ant is a sluggard and will surly come to poverty.
God doesn’t want us to exemplify only bird-type behavior or all ant-like qualities. We are to have a blend of both. While laboring and storing, we should trust. While trusting for each day’s measure, we should be laying up for winter. Winters come. And when they do, we will draw from what we have in reserve. If we have stored up good relationships, they will satisfy us in days of sorrow. If we have tucked away abundant supplies of love, kindness, and compassion, we can draw from those graces when the harsh winds of winter blight the landscape of our lives. If we have filled our hearts with hope and faith, those forces can sustain us when our days seem to have more dark hours than daylight.
The birds around my home need not worry. I have prepared a storehouse for the cold days ahead. The ants under my home are not concerned, for they have laid up provision for this season. As for those of us inside the Amsden home, my prayer is that we will always find our storehouses adequate when wintertime arrives.