I was walking to the church office at Oak Park one day this past summer. Stepping out of the center stairwell, I saw what I thought was a large bug or insect banging against the glass of the center atrium. Stopping to make sure it wasn’t something that would get me, I realized that it wasn’t an insect at all but instead a hummingbird. I carefully walked up to it to ensure that it wouldn’t dart away. Instead, it kept frantically hovering around the glass and banging the window with its beak. Clearly it was stuck in an undesirable situation and wanted to be free of it.
Okay. Let me stop here a minute. I love hummingbirds. I love their size. I love the sound of their wings and the sound of their chirp. I love that they are territorial over food. I love having their hummingbird drama in the backdrop of our kitchen window when we eat a meal together. They are just amazing little creatures.
So on that day at Oak Park, the hummingbird had my attention. My first thought was, “I will just move up close to it. It will move away from me and we can just do this dance until it moves to the open area. Then it will fly up and out.” Guiding the bird along by having it avoid me seemed like the easiest and safest way to go. So I stepped up to it and it didn’t budge. It was too fixated on going straight ahead through the immovable glass. On it kept, flying and fighting. Flying and fighting.
My next thought was, “I don’t want to touch it. I might hurt it.” I glanced around for anything that I could use to capture it without hurting it. I needed something more with me to help this bird. My mind started racing with thoughts of “Do you think Beth has a net in the children’s supply closet?” Crazy, I know, but I thought it. Finally, I settled on my last thought, “I’ll just put my hand out to help and see what happens.” The hummingbird landed. It rested. And then it tried the glass again. I let this happen twice and then I got really brave. When the bird landed, I slowly placed my other hand gently around it. It didn’t fight me. It just stopped. I walked six feet to my left to an open window, stretched out my hands, opened them up and let the hummingbird go. Off it flew.
After that little bird encounter, I began to think about how many parallels there are in the scenario and in my life. I have been both the hummingbird and the hand. I have moved, strived, and pursued all while struggling. Fiercely independent, I have banged my head against an unseen wall, flying and fighting in life. I have been too inwardly focused to see God’s unyielding presence in my life. David writes God’s words in the Psalms:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. - Psalm 32:8 (NIV)
How has God done this? I have been shown the hand of rest, provision, safety and guidance from His Son and our savior Jesus. I just have to accept it.
So what of being the hand? How many times have I feared extending myself to others because I have been afraid that I will do more damage than good. I might say something wrong. I might break a relationship. I might mess something up. I might not be accepted. I, myself, might get hurt. I’ll just stay on the edge and wishful think. This is not how Christ calls us to be. He calls us to be messy. He calls us to love with abandonment. He does not call us to just kinda walk near someone who is hurting and struggling, hoping you can kind of float over some well-wishing while keeping your distance. He calls us to be brave enough to put out our hand.
“Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” - Matthew 4:19 (NIV)
Extend yourself. Open yourself up. You will be amazed at what you will discover about Christ and the abundant life He calls you to live.
And now I know that a hummingbird feels like velvet in your hand. Yet another thing to love.