The adult flew down into the yard, and the chick’s squawking became more excited, leading me to believe this was its mama. As she approached the baby, he opened his mouth wide, and she dutifully deposited food into her baby’s gaping mouth. Satisfied, he quieted down. Mama hopped away from her youngster, staying on the ground in the yard, and the chick hunkered down in the grass and got quiet once again.
Mama hunted nearby in the yard. I saw her pick up a few tasty morsels for herself, then gather some to feed to her waiting chick. As she returned to the chick, he began his song once again, and opened his mouth to receive the gifts his mama had brought for him.
The mama bird, on the other hand, didn't have to wait to be fed. She looked out at the yard and she saw a huge buffet! She saw in that yard all the things necessary to her survival. There were twigs and grass clippings she could use to build a nest. There are bushes, trees, and other places to find protection from predators and shelter for her nest.
And, most immediately, there were bugs galore in the grass - and in the bushes, in the trees, even in the air. She was well equipped to take care of her needs and those of her baby. Everything they needed to survive was already there - not only for this meal but for the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. And it’s not only her meals that are provided for, but protection and shelter. All already existing in the world, abundant, and at her disposal.
I found the contrast between the independence of the mama bird and the complete dependence of the baby bird intriguing.
I grew up believing that I was completely dependent on God in much the same way the baby bird was dependent on his mama. Without mama coming to feed that baby his next meal, he would starve to death; without God coming to meet each need as it arises, I would die. Therefore, my total dependence on God for the continuance of my existence was a necessity.
But when I look at the mama bird, I think of her as independent, self-sufficient. No one comes to her bring her food, much less put it into her mouth. No one builds her nest for her, or cares for her young. She does all that. She seems to provide for herself, not dependent on anyone or anything to keep herself alive. How can she survive, being so independent?
Watching the mama bird, I tried to see my backyard from her perspective. I saw a huge field of provision that already exists for her, a smorgasbord of things for her to choose from to meet her ongoing needs. It’s all at her disposal, much more than she could ever use; she can pick and choose from the abundance that’s already there. She doesn’t have to wait for anyone to provide a specific thing for a particular need; she sees the abundance that already exists and just has to go get it.
When God sent manna to the Israelites, he didn't send it three times a day, right? Here’s what you need for breakfast; I’ll be back later with your lunch. He didn’t just provide one need for one person at a time. He knew the needs would be ongoing, and abundantly provided for all of them. Here is mana for everyone for all day. You simply have to go out and gather it. You can gather as much or as little as you want, and prepare it any way you like.
The fact that God’s provision for our every need is abundant and already exists in the world does not diminish the fact that He has provided it, that we are still depending on Him. It just looks different. Instead of sitting and waiting for God to send exactly what I need at the moment I realize I need it, it's actively seeking out what God has already provided as a solution to my need. And, much in the same way the mama bird might find a spider or a worm, it acknowledges that there are multiple ways in which my need can be met,
In this same way, God had put all the birdie delicacies out there for the mama bird to choose from. He created the ecosystem for bugs and grass and plants and all the things in my backyard, and that ecosystem provides more than enough to sustain not only the mama bird’s needs, but the needs of every living thing within that ecosystem.
When you view it this way, the mama bird is no less dependent upon God for her sustenance - for her survival - than her fledgling is on her. It's when we understand that God’s provision is far greater than hand to mouth and meal to meal. He provides abundantly and endlessly, for continued sustenance. Whatever I need is already out there. It's less like being presented with a silver platter and more like being invited to a buffet.
I am reminded of a line in an old hymn: “All I have needed, thy hand has provided ….”
I always understood this to be a looking back, identifying specific ways God has provided in the past. Perhaps the hymn writer was trying to convey a different truth, one that acknowledges God’s provision as all already here. Every provision for every need already existing in the world. Great, indeed, is His faithfulness. Greater than I had ever realized.
Writing about widow life, grief, and general random ramblings.
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