My husband, Keith and I, couldn’t help laughing at the red-headed finch as he tried to eat out of a hummingbird feeder. We were at our kitchen table watching the hummingbirds come and go as they enjoyed their breakfast. Their delicate balance of swiftly flapping wings and taking sustenance has always been a delightful way to start our day. We’ve found it particularly interesting when they perch on the little plastic resting shelves on the feeders while eating. This delicate dance was a stark contrast to the finch who despite gymnastics, including standing on his head, was unable to extract food from the tiny spout.
“What in the world has possessed that bird to think he can get his large, blunt beak into that little hole that’s meant for a long, needle-like beak?” It just seemed preposterous to me that with his own feeder full of bird seed meant for him and the other larger birds in our yard, he would waste his time and energy trying to eat in what seemed to be an impossible situation.
Long after Keith left the breakfast table, I remained glued to the scene of what I considered silly, albeit, entertaining. The finch was less than thirty feet from a feeder designed for him to have his fill of bird food. Yet, here he was hopping from one resting shelf to the other, poking his beak into the too-tiny holes and coming up empty without exception. Was he just being nosy? Did he think he needed to know what was going on with something that had nothing to do with him? Was he participating in the mindset of “the food’s always sweeter on the other side of the yard”?
As is God’s way sometimes, I often find myself in a classroom designed to teach me a lesson by using creatures outside the human variety. I am the first to admit, I would not voluntarily register for such instruction on God’s syllabus. But if I pay attention, I can find myself sitting, learning and understanding lessons that were not apparent to me through other means. So it was that morning.
I reflected on the finch doing everything he could to have what another bird had, while completely ignoring what had been designed and supplied just for him. His frustration was evidenced in his loud squawking and increasing pace of hopping from one shelf to the next. He would have what his fellow birds had, no matter what the cost. This would be even if it meant he would go hungry while the other large birds sucked down all the bird seed meant for him too. He had no concern, apparently that he appeared insane in his unsuccessful feeding frenzy.
Just look what he was missing in his pursuit of something not meant for him. Just look what he was bypassing in an attempt to figure out something that had nothing to do with him.
Whoa, wait a minute here. This was one of those moments when I think that although I love the book of life, the actual lab can be a little tough to handle. I’ve been known to try and avoid that part of the class altogether.
Wasn’t I just last week trying to fit into a situation where I did not belong? Wasn’t it me whose beak, not too long ago, had been stuck into something that was none of my business? How many times have I envied another for the gifts given to them and how God has provided in their direction, while blatantly ignoring what He has given to and provided for me? Had I really forgotten the lessons learned, (the hard way) of being spiritually hungry due to my own refusal to take from the hand that always knows what I need? I can’t count the times I have tried to force solutions that I really believed were the right ones for me, or another, just to find I was sometimes performing insane and unproductive (even harmful) antics in my stubborn persistence.
Oh my, there was that laboratory evidence of the book of life’s great lessons. I was amazed, amused and very humbled to think I was so quick to judge this bird for his attempts to secure food in a way not meant for him, when all along God was trying to show me what happens when I try to force solutions to satisfy my own needs and wants.
Now knowing how much God loves me, I laughed out loud. What a brilliant and gentle teacher He is. His examples are never condemning or demeaning. But rather He finds ways to demonstrate what might be going on and what I might want to look at to make my walk with Him richer and my human life more peaceful and fulfilled.
I made another cup of tea and sat to watch as the hummingbirds fed and the red-headed finch moved on to his own feeder. I guess he finally figured out he had no business sticking his beak into something that was not his business, was not meant for him and certainly would never bring a yield for his best interests. And as I ran my finger around the rim of my cup, I mused that the red-headed finch was not the only one that day who learned to keep his beak in his own business.
Copyright July, 2021 Laura L. Padgett, M.A.
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