FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Listen to the Birds
My husband, Jack, and I have a special fondness for birds. We enjoy seeing them fly, darting from tree to tree, soaring and wheeling about, riding the wind in joyous freedom.
And it's fun to watch them splash in a puddle or pool of water, bathing themselves and carefully preening their feathers.
We have two feeders and a drinking bowl in our backyard, and the birds have discovered this safe haven. Besides sparrows, cardinals, robins, blackbirds, and other small songbirds, we've seen crows, doves, mallard ducks, and even Canadian Geese in our yard. Sometimes there will he several different kinds of birds there all at the same time.
Jack and I love to watch them -- and so does Finica, our cat. She sits by the sliding glass door and stares out at the birds. She gets so intense that her whiskers twitch! Now and then, a bird will land on the patio near the door, and Finica's eyes get so big. But we don't let her out for fear that her natural feline instincts might overpower her usually friendly disposition.
I especially enjoy listening to the birds. More than any other creature, it seems to me they have learned to serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2).
When God created the fowl of the air on the fifth day of creation, He gave them a song. And virtually all types of birds make some kind of joyful noise -- it seems like they're always praising the Lord. I've seen them after a winter snowstorm, sitting on top of the feeders, thankfully chirping and singing because the food is there.
Jesus once referred to the sparrows, which many consider an ordinary little bird with no apparent value. But He, who values all His creatures, said not one of them falls to the ground without God noticing (see Matthew 10:29).
Luke records what the Lord said about the common crow. Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24).
Watching the birds and remembering what God has said about them has really been a blessing to Jack and me.
Lessons from the birds
There is much we can learn from our fine feathered friends. The Bible is filled with references to birds as symbols of what we humans ought to be or can do with God's help.
On the top of the pole where our American flag flies there often is the image of an eagle, symbol of strength and majesty. The Bible tells us that if we wait upon the Lord, He will give us strength to overcome every difficulty and to mount up on wings, as the eagle (see Isaiah 40:31).
Genesis 8 tells us that when the ark landed on solid ground after the great flood, Noah sent out a dove to see if the land was habitable. The dove found no place to light and returned to the ark. A week later, Noah sent the dove out again and it returned in the evening with an olive branch in its beak. So Noah knew it would soon be safe to go out into the unknown.
Of course, it is no accident that the dove is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who wings His way over the abyss of man's sinful past, bridged by the sacrificial ark of the cross of Christ, and leads all who will follow step by step into the Father's new beginning.
God used a common barnyard rooster to deal with the heart of Peter during the last days of Jesus' life. After Peter had boasted that he would stay close to the Lord no matter what happened or who turned against Him, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him before the cock crowed the next morning.
The gospels tell the awful story of how Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane, then taken before Caiaphas the high priest to be sentenced to death. Warming himself by the fire at the edge of the angry mob, Peter was asked once, twice, three times if he knew or was a companion to this Jesus.
Once, twice, three times -- with oaths -- Peter denied knowing the Lord! And at that darkest hour, just before the dawn, a rooster crowed! Instantly Peter remembered his prideful boast and Jesus' prophetic words... and he wept bitterly.
Of course, we know Peter repented and went on to become a leader in proclaiming the message of Christ's death and Resurrection all across the known world.
Being fed by the birds
You may remember the story of how God used birds to answer the prayers of the Children of Israel. After wandering in the wilderness for many years and being fed on manna, the people cried out for meat. God caused coveys of quail to come near their camp until there was plenty to feed all the people.
The Old Testament tells of the Prophet Elijah being sent into the wilderness to wait beside the brook Cherith. Twice a day the Lord sent ravens to deliver his food. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening (1 Kings 17:6).
Imagine depending on crows to deliver your breakfast and supper! I'm not sure I'd want to trust them with my food. But Elijah did... and he never went hungry.
Are birds good parents?
I'm certainly not an ornithological expert, but I've been impressed about the strong parental instinct birds seem to have. It's fascinating to watch them building a nest, gathering twigs, straw, string, and grass to fashion a fragile but sturdy place to lay their eggs.
In some species, both father and mother bird take turns sitting on the nest, keeping the eggs safe and warm. And once the little ones come out of the eggs, the parents feed the babies until they grow large enough to fly.
I've seen mother birds fiercely attack other birds, even animals that prowled too close to their nest. In many instances, the mother seems willing to give her own life to protect her young.
During the time the baby birds are being incubated, then fed and cared for until they can fly away, nothing is more important to the mother bird. Her babies are the center of her life and the sole reason for her existence.
In our day, necessity sometimes forces both parents to work outside the home. Still, I can't help feeling there are lessons both fathers and mothers can learn about parenting from the example of the birds. Most of all, we must understand how precious the lives of our children really are, worth any sacrifice to protect and nurture in the fear and admonition of God.
Once for a lifetime
I'm impressed with the instinct of birds to be good, faithful partners. I've heard that some species, including the turtle dove, mate once for a lifetime. Once a male and female come together, they stay with their mate and remain faithful to each other until separated by death.
Oh, that these beautiful creatures could teach the men and women of America the lessons of fidelity and faithfulness. In a society where there are more divorces being granted than new marriages performed, surely we need to turn again to the example of these beautiful creatures for instruction in living as God intended.
Listen, my friend, to the voices of the little birds, and hear God speaking to you today. Observe the life-style and the joy of these beautiful creatures and learn anew of God's plan for your life.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 says, For a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.
As you know, an important part of this ministry's outreach now is transmitting the gospel worldwide via communications satellites in space. Using the uplink dish on the roof of our World Outreach Center, we can beam a TV signal from our studio to a satellite, which rebroadcasts it back to earth -- to a coverage area including scores of entire nations, reaching a potential viewing audience of multiplied millions of people.
Did you know that, in the TV communications industry, the slang term for an orbiting communications satellite is...a bird! "We'll beam this up to 'the bird,'" they say, "and let it relay the signal to the other side of the world!"
So the words of Solomon have become another fulfilled prophecy! For today a "bird" does indeed carry the voice of the gospel, and "that which hath wings" is proclaiming the matter of God's Word to the ends of the earth.
What an exciting day in which to be alive! And what a thrill it is for Jack and me to be partners with you in helping to carry out Christ's Great Commission to evangelize our world in this generation.