The Branch of His Planting. The Work of His Hands.
Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
I normally sit in my office to do my Bible study in the mornings because I want the place where I write to be infused with the Spirit. Lately, however, I’ve found that it doesn’t seem to work. My prayers have felt forced and stilted, and my writing isn’t flowing. I’ve felt my creativity freezing like a stream in winter. As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t come up with an encouraging blog for today. Everything I wrote seemed as bleak as the weather outside.
So, this morning, I took my coffee, my Bible, and my prayer journal to the breakfast nook. There’s a big window there that looks out over our back yard. I left my Bible open to the scripture reading from today’s devotion and just sat in quiet contemplation. There’s snow on the ground. The ambient temperature is -10 with a wind chill of -30 degrees Fehrenheit. All I saw when I first looked out were bare trees, the white ground that almost looked blue from the cold, and a grey sky.
I glanced down at my Bible and my eyes fell on Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I’ve always found solace in nature. The diverse beauty with which the Lord blessed the earth reveals His presence to me. I looked out the window again, and my eye landed on a spot of color, high up in a bare maple tree in the middle of the yard. It was a male robin, with a very bright red chest. He sat so still, with his feathers puffed and his head hunched down on his shoulders, that I began to fear that he’d frozen.
I raised the blinds and sat back in my chair just to watch, praying for the little bird. Soon, I saw him turn his head, and I thanked God that he was alright. I followed the direction of his gaze and noticed another spot of red in our magnolia tree. There sat a brilliant cardinal! I also noticed that there are buds on the magnolia! As I quietly continued to watch, I saw and heard more birds. They chased each other across the yard and into the trees. They called to each other, singing and chirping.
The world may look cold and uninviting right now, but there is life just beneath the surface of the snow, waiting to burst forth when the time is right. Underneath the ground, trees are extending their roots downward to nourish their upward growth in summer, and bulbs are sending out roots and shoots preparing to reach for the sun in spring.
I began silently praising God for the beauty of His creation and thanking Him for the scene set before me. I watched until my friends flew away, and then I began to write. As I sit here, I can still hear the birds chirping, and my friend, the cardinal, just flew across the yard, again. I see the buds on the magnolia tree where he sat before, and I know spring will come.
Snow is starting to fall again, and the birds have gone quiet, finding places to roost and wait out the cold, but I thank the Lord for giving me a glimpse and promise of spring, waiting just around the corner.
Friend, maybe you feel the bleakness of a long winter. Perhaps, you even feel as if your faith has frozen in a spiritual winter, the things happening in the world causing you to feel sad and hopeless. Psalm 34:7 tells us, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” The Lord will deliver us from this winter – both literal and figurative.
Like the trees extend their roots in winter for the nourishment and strength they need to grow upwards in summer, we must root and ground ourselves more firmly in the word and in our God during the cold times of trial so that we too can gain strength and grow our faith. Just as the trees and flowers will burst forth into brilliant beauty and color when the warmth of the sun shines on them in spring, so we, too, will be transformed when the Son shines on us, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18a)
As I conclude this message, the snow has stopped and the birds are chirping once again, and my eye has fallen upon yet another promise of beauty to come in Philippians 3:20, 21: “But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Awesome Father, we come before You in humble adoration of the work of your hands, recognizing that even the cold winter serves a purpose. You have given the earth a time to rest and rejuvenate in preparation for the beautiful work of spring. We thank You for the glory that awaits us in the warm weather, and we thank You for the glory that awaits us when we enter the eternal summer of heaven. Please help us to keep our minds stayed on You and to keep our hearts rooted and grounded in Your word. Please strengthen and sustain us just as You do the birds. In Jesus Christ’s precious and holy name – Amen!