Seagulls: Mine, Mine, Mine vs. His Will

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Seagulls
“May your kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as in heaven.”
(Matt 6:10)

“Mine, Mine, Mine…” whenever I am in the company of seagulls, I can’t help but remember this funny scene from the hit movie, “Finding Nemo:” For one perilous moment the fish, at risk of being washed ashore, find themselves surrounded by eager Seagulls simultaneously declaring: “Mine, mine, mine!” Seagulls are notorious for their insatiable appetites! I’ve witnessed them fighting each other over mere crumbs. One particular day as I was entertained by their crazy antics, it occurred to me that perhaps we aren’t so different. In that, I mean that it is in our nature to want what we want how/when we want it. In today’s culture, it seems almost normal to put our needs and desires over and above God’s…. and those around us. When I reflect upon my own relationships with family and friends (with God’s help), it doesn’t take long for me to recognize that every argument I’ve ever had has been a direct result of my own selfish desires and unwillingness to submit my own will to God’s. During his earthly ministry, Jesus taught his disciples to pray “May YOUR Kingdom come; May YOUR will be done on earth as in heaven.”(Matt 6:10) In this we have an amazing invitation to exchange our flesh cries of “mine, mine, mine” for divine glimpses of “His, His, His” will for our lives.

Because Jesus’ disciples had witnessed firsthand the healing, freedom, transformation, restoration, and powerful impact that took place as people experienced a brush with “heaven on earth,” they must have had these glimpses of “heaven on earth” in mind when they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. God is still in the business of healing broken hearts, restoring relationships, and transforming lives. But, he waits for us to get to the business of offering our own plans and agenda for a complete renewing of our minds.(see Rom 12:2) As Jesus warned “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt 26:41) God is more than willing and well able to manifest his will in/through us, but only to the degree that we are willing to abandon our flesh cries of “mine, mine, mine” at the foot of the cross to make room for His.

Seagulls will continue to clamor over the crumbs offered to them… they can’t help it. As for us, please allow me to close with this beautiful prayer from St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred- let me sow love, where there is injury-pardon,
Where there is doubt-faith, where there is despair-hope,
Where there is darkness-light, where there is sadness-joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled-as to console,
To be understood-as to understand, to be loved-as to love,
For it is in giving-that we receive, It is pardoning-that we are pardoned,
It is in dying-that we are born to Eternal Life.”

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Indigo Bunting: Faith and God’s Abundance

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Indigo Bunting
“No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.”

(Heb. 11:6)

Bursting with life and color, this Indigo Bunting transformed the dead leaves of my yard into a stage for God’s glory… reflecting the condition of my heart. With every God-given call or task comes the temptation to dismiss it due to our lack of abilities, current circumstance, or foolish pride. I’m convinced that one of the greatest obstacles to following God’s call is our own deceitful heart. One morning as I struggled with such inner feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, I humbly offered it to God in prayer asking for a reminder of HIS love, presence, and promise. And should our Creator be willing, I asked that His reminder come in the form of His created, specifically a Bunting. I knew I was asking a lot, certainly more than I deserve. But, I also knew that “nothing is too difficult for God” and He takes pleasure in “rewarding those who seek him.”(Jer. 32:26; Heb. 11:6 paraphrased) Although I embraced the day with faith and expectancy, no words can describe the unspeakable joy and humble awe of spotting this Indigo Bunting in my own backyard!

As I marveled over this one time visitor, I felt God teaching me a most extraordinary lesson. God doesn’t call us because of who we are or the abilities we have to offer. God calls us because of who he is and the life abundant he has planned for us in Jesus Christ. I could almost relate to Simon Peter when he was called to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry. After a long night of fishing with no results, Simon Peter is instructed by Jesus to push his boat out further in the deep water and let down his nets. Almost reluctantly (it seems), Simon Peter does as Jesus asks only to find himself with a boat so full of fish that he requires additional help to keep the boat from sinking! Upon recognizing the abundance Jesus has to offer, Simon Peter falls to his knees before him and cries, “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:4-11 paraphrased) God can and does use these moments when we are most keenly aware of our own poverty of spirit to awaken our souls to the infinite riches he has for us in Christ.

As if in answer to an invisible call, I watched as the Indigo Bunting departed from the comfort of my backyard in pursuit of the great unknown. Likewise, we are left with a choice in how to respond to God’s call. We can remain in the current circumstance/condition in which we find ourselves… or we can choose to leave behind what we think we know and move forward in faith that “God exists and rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6)

Inspired by the nature of God

Rose Breasted Grosbeak:The Wind and Holy Spirit

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Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
“The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like this with everyone born of the spirit.” (John 3:8)

I’m no mathematician. But with a migration pattern that ranges from Canada to South America, I would say that the odds of a Rose- Breasted Grosbeak landing on my bird feeder in Houston, TX are pretty slim. Yet, within 3 days of my husband spotting a Rose- Breasted Grosbeak during our anniversary trip (and being dismayed over the fact that I missed the special sighting), this very bird showed up in our backyard! As I observed this colorful bird, known as the “opera singer” of the birding kingdom, I couldn’t help but meditate upon what Jesus said about people born of the Spirit: “The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8)

Has God ever called you to a seemingly impossible task that you either felt ill equipped for or too inadequate to finish?

Like migratory birds must learn to depend on wind currents and optimal weather conditions to aid them in their long journeys, God calls us to depend on the Holy Spirit for our spiritual journeys. We may not understand where the wind comes from or where it is going. But whether it is the gentle breeze that grazes our faces or stronger winds that blow in with greater force, like hurricanes, we recognize the wind by its feel and impact. So it is with the Holy Spirit. As we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God sends the power of his Holy Spirit to fill, expand, and inhabit these mortal bodies of ours. The more we yield to his power working in us, the less we feel the need to strive, struggle, or compete. In union with Christ, we have become heirs to the king of kings, our eternal future is secure, and our happiness is made complete. As our lives are inwardly transformed, the Holy Spirit empowers us with the capacity to serve God, expand his kingdom, and impact the world around us. We may not see the Holy Spirit or even understand where he comes from, but there is no denying the power of His presence and impact of His witness manifest in/through us.

Although the Rose- Breasted Grosbeak continued on his journey the following morning, I was left feeling somewhat relieved to realize that the capacity I have to know, love, and serve God has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit! Naturally, I’m ever hopeful to see the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak again next year. After all, you never know which way the wind may blow!:)

Inspired by the Nature of God
©Sabra Coker

Baby Mockingingbird: You are worth much more than any Sparrow… or Mockingbird!

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Baby Mockingbird
“For only a penny you can buy 2 sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. As for you, even the hairs on your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!”
(Matt.10:29-31)

One day while my husband was mowing the front yard, this baby Mockingbird came dangerously close to being inadvertently run over. Hidden by the tall grass, she had fallen from the comfort of her nest only to land precariously in the direct path of the lawnmower. Blessedly, my husband spotted her at the last moment and she was spared the impending doom. As we safely restored the baby bird back to her nest in what we fondly call “operation rescue,” I began to ponder how closely our perspective of God can be directly related to our circumstances in life.

As unexpected trials come our way, it can be tempting to wonder if God has forgotten or even forsaken us in the midst of them. If we are not careful, this type of perspective, birthed in less than favorable circumstances, can lead us away from the security of God’s “nest” in search of comfort elsewhere. Like this Mockingbird, it can be easy for us to unwittingly fall into harm’s way apart from God.

How about you? Have you ever had moments in your life where you feel like you are “happily chirping” along only to be blindsided by an unexpected change in life’s circumstances that leave you feeling forgotten by God or “mowed over” so to speak?

How comforting is to know that while our circumstances can change in the blinking of an eye, God’s knowledge and concern for us never changes! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Heb 13:8) At all times, we can trust in God to be leading, fighting, and carrying us when we are too weak to find our own way. “We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there may be many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:6-9) In union with Christ, we have become God’s friends… and even the “number of hairs on our head” are known by Him. We can trust that even in the midst of our trials, God is with us from beginning to end.

“Let us be brave, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. (Heb.4:16) We can be confident in Christ knowing “we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” (Heb.4:16)

For as this scripture reminds us, we are worth much more than any sparrow! Or Mockingbird! 