"Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy? ...Why do You stand afar off, O Jehovah? Will You hide in times of distress? ...Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever... Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? From your bosom, draw it out of Your bosom and exterminate [the enemy]" (Job13:24, Ps10:1,44:23,74:11)
Why? Why? Why?
"Be still, and know that I am God!" (Ps46:10)
From time to time we've learned some things of God's truths from the sparrows around my house. It is time for another such object lesson. Jesus spoke of man's worth, next to sparrows, and observed, "And not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father" (Mt10:29) If God has such care over sparrows, I don't feel silly in the slightest for making some observations from them, too.
Even David observed: "Even the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young; even Your altars, O Jehovah of Hosts, my King and my God." (Ps84:3)
I made this bird house which is mounted to a place within easy view of the kitchen window; and this year again the sparrows have made a nest, and hatched some young. Last year when they did so, -both- mom and dad were busily engaged in scurrying back and forth, finding food, and feeding the young. This year I notice that something is 'wrong' with dad. There is something about him that is just NOT QUITE 'RIGHT'. He spends a lot of day-time perched on the fence, sleeping. Sometimes on a 'peg' next to where the nest is. Sometimes he wakes up and helps feed the young, but it is not with the usual 'gusto' with which they typically scurry back and forth. This situation is of such a nature that some of the other sparrows have also been to the nest, poking their heads in, to have a look at the young, and sometimes non-parent sparrows have also taken the occasional bit of food up to feed the young. "Helping out", I suspect? (On other occasions I've even seen sparrows helping unattached young starlings learn how to distinguish food, picking up a piece of bread and setting it down in front of them, "Here, eat!" So apparently this is something sparrows do.) It's as though I am left to wonder: Did he fly into a window? Did he get bested in a fight? Did a cat snag him with a claw, and he got away, but was injured? That he seems somehow "detached" from normal sparrow life, and not quite "with it".
As long-time subscribers know, from previous years, I have gotten into the habit of throwing out bits of bread...especially during nesting season. They seem to -really- like the "cracked wheat" bread for feeding the young. During the height of the season, as the young are also now fluttering around, having left the nest; when it's treat time, that first piece of bread gets flicked out there...the whole hord comes swhooshing down upon it. They even get a bit 'violent' with each other in this frenzy. So recently I have started flicking the pieces of bread closer to me, down closer to my feet. The hord tends to not 'charge' so violently, and the more 'tame' ones are the ones who come closer to me, and are better-behaved. And besides, those are the ones I really 'want' to treat, anyway, not necessarily 'everybody' in the neighborhood.
Well, since I started throwing the bread down close, guess who is among those who 'calmly' waits at my feet? Not-quite-right 'dad'. Since the nest is also close to where I go back and forth when pulling out the watering hose, and turning on the water, he has gotten used to me being near his nest. It has now started to happen that, when I come out the door to feed, he is already there at the foot of the steps, squatting, waiting, looking up at me. So guess what? The first piece of bread gets dropped right next to him. And in his 'slowness', he also 'calmly' just -sits- there, 'preparing' the bits for taking up to the nest. Most other sparrows -quick- grab their piece and fly/flutter/hop away (a 'safer' distance) to do their 'preparation'.
And you know...knowing his 'problem', as he prepares what he is doing, I stand there and 'wait' for him. I don't want to startle him by making the hand/arm movements involved in flicking pieces out to the other sparrows. So, while he takes care of his business, the other sparrows just 'wait' for me. And they also keep a respectful distance from him...not jumping in to snatch away his piece...like they normally do to each other. For one thing, he's practically next to my feet, and they don't want to come that close; and also, they are waiting expectantly for the next pieces I'm ready to flick out for them.
How often are we like those 'other' sparrows? For so many in these days there has become a sense of "entitlement". If God gives us "X", next we want "2X" or "3X" or more. After all, I 'deserve' it. Like one time I threw out the entire slice of bread, without breaking it up, intending to watch the sparrows gather around and 'politely' peck off their pieces. But instead, guess what happened. Sparrows individually, one by one, would swoop down upon the slice, grab the edge, hoping to fly off with the whole thing FOR THEMSELVES. But obviously, it was too big, and they would fly away with just the little bit they had managed to snag in their beak. After awhile of this....and -nobody- was really getting much of the bread in their gullets, because everybody wanted the whole thing, I walked over and picked up the slice...mostly in tact...but full of beak marks all the way around. Some had also tried to play tug-o-war with it, against each other.
Look at this huge "freebie". I don't have to go scrounging for food, "take your ease; eat drink, and be merry" and what did God say? "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you.." (Lk12:19-20)
I used to wish that I had a huge sum of money so that I could get the VW-edition Bible printed up in some sort of suitable quantity, so that I could -give- them away. I don't like the idea that God's Word should have any sort of monetary value placed on it. "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat. Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." (Is55:1)
But there was an occasion not long ago where I had some 'extras' sitting around, from the process of getting it all figured out, formatted, and finalized... so I offered them "free". And guess what... some (not all) of the e-mails requesting a copy had the flavor and spirit, almost like a 'demand': You're giving them away? Sure, I'll take one. I deserve it. I'm entitled to one. Some of the e-mails that came flooding in for the "freebie" had the same feel as when those sparrows come 'attacking' those pieces of bread I throw out.
Well, guess what else? The ones who received copies were ones who I sensed, from their e-mails, could really use it, and would really 'appreciate' having it...who also did not project a self-inflated sense of entitlement.
Mr. 'dad' has a need, a 'disablement', and seems to appreciate my bit of 'care' towards him. But some of the extremely agressive sparrows, if they don't get the bread... I figure: well, too bad! Mr. dad seems to be doing as much as he is able. He has his limits...but what he is able, he is doing.
God expects the same of us. No, it is not that pagan expression, "God helps those who help themselves" But when we are in a certain place, He also says, "Go" or "get up on your feet". Stop wallowing around in self-pity. Get to work.
Elijah was having quite the pity-party: Boo hoo, they want to kill me; I'm the only one left. And God says, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you have come there, anoint Hazael as king over Syria." (1Ki19:15) In other words: Get back to work. I have work for you to do. Get on with it. Oh yes, and by the way (several verses later), "Yet I have left in Israel seven thousand, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." (vs18) You're not the -only- one left. Yes, you've had it easy for awhile, ravens bringing your food (1Ki17:4), but you've also got work to do. It's not a free ride. So let's get with it.
Ezekiel is wowed by visions of God, and ends up prostrate on the ground: "And He said to me, Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you. Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speak to me." (Ezk2:1)
A side note to you charismatics who like to be "spirit-filled" and become "slain": notice when God's Holy Spirit entered Ezekiel, he did not wallow on the ground "as if dead" (Mk9:26) like in demon-possession; but the Spirit "set [him] on [his] feet".
Same with Daniel: "And he said to me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you and STAND UP, for I am now sent to you. And when he had spoken this word to me, I STOOD, trembling." (Dan10:11)
We learn from David. He did not believe in entitlements. God was requiring of him to offer a sacrifice, and one of his subjects offered the land, animals and materials for firewood for 'free', and David says, "No, but I will buy to acquire it for the full price, for I will not take away what is yours for Jehovah, nor offer burnt offerings without cost." (1Ch21:24)
So then, "why" is it that sometimes it seems that God is not -immediately- by our side helping, guiding, directing, empowering... giving the 'personal touch'? We already know that if there is sin, "your iniquities have separated between you and your God" (Is59:2)
But if there is no sin or iniquity, we are of clear conscience (Ac23:1, 1Tim1:5, 1Pet3:21), but we feel like we are being ignored? Perhaps God is dealing with a "not-quite-right sparrow"? And while He is helping the hurting one, He also stands still, waiting on them to trudge along? When the two came to Jesus, asking to sit on either side of His throne, remember how the rest started murmuring, and then arguing amongst themselves as to "who was greater". What did Jesus respond?
"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all. And He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me. And John answered Him, saying, Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us. But Jesus said, Do not forbid him, for no one who does a work of power in My name will soon afterward be able to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our behalf." (Mk9:35-40)
How often do people get upset with God, thinking they are -all- there is in God's Kingdom? Americans seem to have this over-inflated sense of self-importance, which often extends to Christians. We (in this country) are the only aspect to Christ's Church... many seem to think... or at least, that's the way they act. But there's people all over the globe who name the name of Jesus Christ, and are busy doing His work.
When a parent or teacher is giving attention to one child, are we like the others who swarm around, tugging at the sleeve, tapping the arm, "Me! Me! Me! What about meeeee?!" ? Like this neighbor dog that has been friendly; but if I then divert my attention to pet another dog, he comes pushing me away from that dog, so he can have -all- the attention?
Me! Me! Me!
I'm busy with this other person, who needs my help more right now; just wait a minute and I'll come to you.
But God, why don't You -do- something?!
Well, perhaps He -is- ? But it doesn't happen to involve 'you/me' at that particular moment?
"I would have fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of Jehovah in the land of the living. Wait upon Jehovah; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, upon Jehovah!" (Ps27:13-14)