One of the things I enjoy most about gardening is the life lessons that come from just simply observing our amazing world.
This past week as I walked by my window and looked out to admire the new growth of this year's garden already in full swing, I was startled to see that a bird had got caught inside the netting of the garden! As mentioned in previous posts, we discovered a great netting to keep the wildlife out of the garden. Because it is not large enough to cover the whole garden, it was installed in strips tied together with zip ties which leaves gaps that if pushed on hard enough will create an opening.
While being great at keeping the wildlife out and the garden secure, squirrels jumping from the tree canopies that tower over the top of the garden mistake the top of the garden netting as being a solid landing place only to fall through those gaps. We have had two squirrels get caught in the garden and in their frantic state to get out, they throw themselves at the side netting of the garden until it unhooks and creates an opening they can slide out of. While we try to help them find their way out, the fear that seizes them sends them into a fury of aerial flips and twists and full-on hysterical running...and all we can do is watch.
I knew with the bird it was going to be a different story. It would not be strong enough to make a way of escape, and I immediately headed out to help it find its way to freedom. Interestingly, the bird was taking the same path as the squirrels - frantically throwing itself at the netting trying to escape. Having birds (conures) ourselves, both my daughter and I have a very special place in our hearts for birds of all kinds, and this would not be the first rescue mission. Opening the garden netting slowly, I began to speak to the bird in a calm voice, assuring them I was not there to harm them but to only help set them free. As I tried to approach and direct the bird towards the open door, he continued to throw his weakening body at the netting in full flight. He was exhausting himself and was entering into a state of shock.
Then I began to see the lesson.
So many times we find ourselves in places we don't want to be. Sometimes it's poor choices, sometimes its circumstances we have no control over. We can feel alone, trapped, and unable to see a way out. Fear creeps in like threatening storm clouds slowly darkening our thoughts... and our actions become desperate. Fear is a tormenting task master.
As this precious birds life hung in the balance due to its fearful actions, he lay helplessly still amongst the plants in the garden until it could find the strength to throw itself again. While I could get close to him, he would not let me gather him into my hands...the hands that were so willing to set him free. The solution was to get a towel to throw over him and scoop him up. In his fatigue, he could not battle any longer and while my loving hands gently picked him up, he let out a frail, final chirp of fear. Speaking softly, I carried him outside the garden and sat on the ground with him. Opening the towel and continuing to speak lovingly to him, he remained in a state of shock for a few moments staring intently at me. Then quickly he regrouped and finally flew off into the blue sky...the freedom he longed for. My heart was warmed that he was finally free, but it left me pondering how much our own lives parallel his experience.
Truly, there is someone who wants to set us free. He comes with a still, small voice, assuring us that he is there to help us...and not harm us. He is for us...and not against us. He has hands of deliverance, if we will only allow him to hold us. In our fear, we cannot hear clearly, we cannot see the truth, we cannot understand. We throw ourselves around, exhausting ourselves, hurting ourselves and others, prolonging the deliverance we long for...freedom from fear...a place of safety...a place of peace and rest.
Had the bird been able to trust that I was there to set them free, the experience would have been a completely different one. Imagine that he immediately recognized his error and understood that I was there to set him free. He would have been at peace already, waiting joyfully for his deliverance! He would have willingly allowed the loving hands to scoop him up and allowed his deliverer to determine his destiny...
... how we struggle to trust God.
There are some who still don't know the person these hands belong to, and there are those of us who know him...and yet, still don't trust him to set us free. My prayer for all of us is that we can quickly recognize our weaknesses and acknowledge the one who created us as the Loving Father that he is...longing for our deliverance, safety, peace and joy.
Likewise, we can offer these same hands to each other. I encourage you, not just in the next few weeks, but for the rest of your life to see the fear in the faces of those around you, and find ways to help them know that they are not alone, they are loved, and there is a way of escape...if they will just trust the hands that love them...