Friday, May 31, 2013

An Injured Robin ...and God

I'm on the front lawn, adjusting the brakes on my bike, when a sudden flurry appears out the corner of my eye. I look up and take in the situation, but am too slow to react.

One of our cats, a spotted grey yearling, a personal favorite in the household, has a robin by the wing, and is running with it. A second robin is trying desperately to provide a distraction so the captive may escape. If you have any experience with cats and their prey, you know this is a highly futile attempt.

Soon, the cat has run under the porch, and under the house.

I am in conflict.. The circle of life dictates that animals will kill each other. Cats kill birds. It's just what they do. Were it another type of bird, I likely wouldn't care. If I were to intervene, he would probably get killed sooner or later.. and what difference does this bird make over another? The mate to this robin, having flown off as soon as the cat went under the house, is still hearable, crying for it's lost love.. Oh, this is too much. I've got to do something. But what?

I couldn't get under the house if I wanted to.. I try shouting sharply. I try kicking the metal skirting of our mobile home, to frighten the cat into releasing his prey. This also proves futile. I sit down in the shade.. the dog, sensing my mood, puts on a guilty expression. I call him over, pet him, and tell him that he's not the one I'm upset at.

The captured bird cries out from under the house. Silence. Nothing. He calls out again.. Silence.. Is he still alive? Could he survive?

Suddenly, unexpectedly, the bird comes free, flying out from under the house, under the porch, and between the steps on the stairs. He's broken free! Unfortunately, his wing is injured enough that he cannot gain more than a couple feet of altitude. Unfortunately again, the dog, sensing easy prey, chases after him, knocking him out of the air.

This time I act immediately. The dog is rebuked, and backs off.

The robin lays on the drive way, too exhausted to move. I pick him up. He doesn't even struggle. I go inside. For a moment I just stand there, unsure what to do next.

"Is he dead?" someone asks.

I open my hand to show that he is still breathing. He doesn't move.

A few moments later, rested up, the bird makes a sudden break for it. Bam! Into the window. I chase him around the house, moving as slowly and smoothly as possible, to avoid frightening him more than necessary. Because keeping him safe is a higher priority than recapturing him, it takes about 20 minutes.

I decide to call the local wild animal rescue. The person answering the phone informs me that they, the people who run the establishment, are out of town, but that I can hand off the bird to their interns. He is placed in a shoe box with a towel.. I drive off, delivering my "patient" to two girls younger than myself.

It gets me thinking...

There are numerous spiritual applications in this experience.

The first possible one relates to my failure to respond to the situation immediately. It is important that we always remain on guard, not only to avoid being caught by the predatory nature of sin, but also so we can step in on behalf of another who may be in harms way, who's very life, or salvation, is at risk.

Secondly, even though I ultimately had the power to save the life of the robin, by removing him from the threatening situation, only through his own struggle was he able to be saved. Don't get me wrong, he didn't save himself, nor could he. But, had he been indifferent to the plight he was in, at that point there was very little I could do rescue him. The same is true between us and God. He will do what He can to get our attention, or keep us out of too deep of trouble (analogous to my banging and yelling), but we cannot be saved without our own cooperation.

Third, do I ever fail to recognize the true character of God, or those people or things He puts in my life for my protection and salvation, mistaking them for another threat against my freedom and happiness? Do I ever fail to put my trust in Him, who has even more perfect feelings towards me, and a better understanding of the ideal course for my life than I had for the injured robin.. And yet it seems to not be such a good thing for me, from my limited perspective...

The bird who, on seeing the window, thought he was so close to freedom, failed to realize that not only could he not get through the window, but if he could have, he likely would have been killed by the same creatures who had nearly ended his life earlier. Do I ever think I can see through to my own happiness and prosperity, failing to realize that it is perhaps impossible to do so? And whether impossible or not, maybe following such a course would not be in my best interest anyway..

Then there's the way in which the experience has helped me to better understand God's care for me. As much as I wanted to do what was best for the bird, how much more does God want the same for me? When the bird escaped my grasp, I was not upset at him for trying to get away, I wasn't irritated by the fact that he didn't trust me.. I was only sad that he was injured. Does God really have more patience with me than I had for this injured creature?

There's a more sobering lesson as well.. Even though the life of the bird was saved, the damage had already been done - he was already separated from his mate. I'm sad as I realize this, in part because, had I acted immediately, perhaps the bird would have not needed to go to rehab, and could have simply recovered on his own. The lesson here is that going down a destructive course often leads to eternal loss, even if our life is spared.