Golden-cheeked Warbler (endangered): Arise and shine… God’s glory is shining on you

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Golden-cheeked Warbler
“All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.”
(2 Cor 3:18)

Ever since I read about the endangered Golden Cheeked Warbler, it has been the desire of my heart to actually spot one. While it winters in Mexico to South America, it nests solely in the juniper-oak trees of Central Texas. And even in Texas, it is still a rare sighting. So before my family headed to Garner State Park in Texas, I prayed: “Lord, grant us what we need to experience the power of your presence, our creator, through your created.” (God knows the desires of my heart better than I do…)Not long after we arrived, I was on a morning hike at the park when I heard the most beautiful, distinctive song coming from a nearby tree. As I glanced to the source of the sweet chirping sound, I was dazzled by the glow of the aptly named Golden-cheeked Warbler! Nothing I had read could have prepared me for this rare and special moment. For me, it was like the glory of God shining in the face of this little bird! I saturated myself in the moment and then excitedly rushed back to camp, aglow with my own brightness, eager to share my morning experience with my family. My experience brought to mind the story of Moses, who upon returning from the tent of the Lord’s presence, had to wear a veil to cover his “shining face” when he returned to the Israelite people. (Ex 34:29-30 paraphrased) By this, I mean please don’t expect people who miss out on seeing the Golden Cheeked Warbler to share your giddy excitement. 

If God can make his glory to shine through this Warbler’s cheeks, how much more can he make his glory to shine in/through us?!! “We are not like Moses who had to wear a veil. In union with Christ, we reflect the glory of God with uncovered faces.” (2Cor 3:13-14 paraphrased)Just as the bright yellow cheeks distinguish this Golden Cheeked Warbler from any other bird, “God’s presence is what distinguishes us from any other people on earth.” (Ex 33:16 paraphrased) As we soak in God’s presence through prayer, worship, service, church, or his word, we can’t help but overflow with his love, grace, and goodness splashing others with glimpses of God’s glory!

Shortly after returning from our trip, I had the opportunity to share my special “God moment” with our teenage girls at bible study. The following week, one of our young ladies came to me with cheeks that shined far brighter than the Golden Cheeked Warbler as she presented me with a gift I’ll treasure for a lifetime. Upon seeing her rendition of my special “God moment” expressed in vivid watercolor, I asked Abigail how long she’d been painting. I couldn’t’ t hold back tears of unspeakable joy as she told me this is her first ever painting depicting, of all things, the Golden-Cheeked Warbler at Garner State Park. I pray it blesses you as it has blessed me!

GCW

“To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen.”
(Eph 3:20-21)

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Broken Pieces

 IMG_1063 Broken Pieces

One day while walking along the seashore, I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for revealing himself in the dazzling light of day, the uniqueness of each sea creature, and the roar of the crashing waves. I then asked him to show me more.

As I made my humble request, I had visions of finding the perfect shell… perhaps a Conch or shiny, new Sand-Dollar. Instead, I felt God calling me to pick up only the broken pieces of shell on this special quest. Even as I wondered who in the world wants the broken ones, I felt God responding to my unspoken thought: “I do” came the simple reply. Why… I wondered as I gathered the broken pieces of shell that had been rejected, left behind, or discarded in place of something new…why would anyone want the broken ones?!!

God’s word came to me almost at once and I knew: The son of man came to save those who are last, least, lonely, and broken. “Those who are well have no need of a doctor!” (Matt 9:12 paraphrased) Thus, determined to obey, I gathered as many broken pieces of shell as I could find on this beautiful, sunshiny day. As I bent to pick up one final broken piece, I was treated to a burst of color and life only to discover a ladybug had made its way to the beach!

IMG_1068With my bucket now full of broken pieces of shells, I somehow knew there was but one thing left to do. Like a puzzle, I gathered all the broken pieces together and at last, I could see the Sand-Dollar I had hoped to find. Far from perfect, shiny, or new, this Sand-Dollar required putting each of the broken pieces together before I could truly recognize the beauty and poetry of its original design.

IMG_1281As I reflected on the meaning of this strange and wonderful Sand-Dollar find, another type of picture came to mind. With deep love, God sent his own Son from heaven above to gather us-the least, last, lonely, and “broken ones”- into one body where His life-giving Spirit “is in all and works through all.” (Eph 4:6; 1Cor 12:7 paraphrased) Through God’s call in Jesus Christ, we have gone from broken to chosen! Though we have many faces and represent many places, together in Christ, we become but a glimpse of God’s great love and amazing grace.United to reflect our Father’s heart, “Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body even though it is made up of many parts.” (1Cor 12:12)