Ruby-throated Hummingbird: “Be still My Soul… God is in Control”

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird
“Be still and know that I am God.”
(Psalms 46:10)

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “A Ruby-throated hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times per second.” Considering it has one of the highest metabolism rates of all the warm-blooded vertebrates in the world, one can only assume that it must require some amount of effort to simply “be still.” Yet, this state of stillness is exactly what I observe in this Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched on a branch in my backyard. Even without the metabolism rate of a hummingbird, we all experience seasons in life where it can be challenging to simply “be still”…both physically and spiritually. I experienced such a time of spiritual “restlessness” when I lost all the women in my immediate family- mom, sister, and grandmother- far too close together. Even with or without the hope of Christ, there remains the business of adjusting to life without one’s loved one. My own season of loss only pales in comparison to that of so many others in the world. As I struggle to make sense of the hardships we face in this life, God’s direction comes in the stillness of a hummingbird: “Be still and know that I am God.”(Psalms 46:10)

In light of God’s glory in creation comes illumination of the creator: God doesn’t call us to understand times of trial and suffering, but to trust that he is control in the midst of them. Consider the book of Job where we hear of a man who has experienced immeasurable loss and suffering. After losing his children, home, livestock, servants, and health, Job finds himself in desperate need to understand his predicament. His wife suggests that he curses God for his troubles while his friends offer to help uncover the possible sin that could be causing his suffering. When at last God, seemingly displeased with the feeble attempt of others, speaks into the midst of Job’s suffering, he has a few questions of his own… all pertaining to the divine nature and eternal power of God as revealed by creation. As Job recognizes God’s glory in creation, he finds a place of stillness for his soul in the sovereignty, power, and providential care of his creator. (Job 38-42) Likewise, as we relinquish our desire to understand things too complicated for us to know and instead trust ourselves to the sovereign and providential care of our creator, we can find a place of stillness for our souls not dependent on circumstance.

Before winter, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight destined for Central America. I can only wonder how it instinctively knows that there is anything better to make such an arduous journey worthwhile. We can’t fully understand hummingbirds anymore than we can understand human trials and suffering this side of heaven. But like the hummingbird that instinctively knows there’s something better on the other side of the ocean; God calls us, mortal though we are, to trust that he is control. In union with Jesus Christ, we can rest assured that the best is yet to come.

Inspired by the Nature of God
(Seeds of Devotion: Psalms 46:10; Job 1:13-2:10;Job 38-42;Psalms 131;1Peter 4:19;Acts 2:26;Rom 1:20)

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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