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Even the sparrow has found a home...

A corner of our deck is daily bombarded with, what Aaron calls, "Grackles". They are noisy, unfancy birds who descend on our dog's food stash and peck away at the food we place there specifically for him. These unattractive birds swarm to Ruger's Purina Dog Chow and we are constantly calling out, "Shut up, birds!" from the living room, banging on the screen door or kitchen window to startle them away, or gagging a bit at the "mess" they have made (and left for us) on our deck railing.

After some quiet time this morning, I got up to rinse out my coffee cup and surprised some perched Grackles as they fluttered away. And I thought to myself... What's really the big deal if they eat a couple pieces of dog food? Ruger has plenty to eat; he's 70+ pounds, so he's obviously not starving. The deck, while prettier when not speckled with the evidence of fowl, is ours but is only ours because God provided the job, which provided the paycheck which paid for the house that God wanted us to call our first home. So, what's the big deal?

One of my favorite Biblical passages is from the book of Colossians (chapter 3, verses 12 through 14) and it reads:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy
and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with:
~ compassion
~ kindness
~ humility
~ gentleness
~ patience
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances
you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord
forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which
binds them together in perfect unity..."

I understand the Grackles are "just birds"... but they also happen to be part of God's creation here on Earth. As am I... as are you. Anything we have is because God has blessed us and seen fit to care for us. The leftover pizza in the fridge, the peanut butter and toast I enjoyed for breakfast, the fact that we never run out of toilet paper... these are provisions, gifts, from God. Who am I to say that the Grackles aren't welcome? Who am I to say that placing Ruger's food where we do, outside on the deck, is not the way God has prepared to care for these birds that He knows?

This is not a PETA-endorsed post. I fully believe that man has dominion over the animals and that it's completely alright to have a hamburger. My husband loves hunting and we have been blessed by the benefits of his enjoyment for the outdoors and his mad skills. But my point is, we have to get away from the robes of self-entitlement that we wrap ourselves in every day. Such as.... I have a right to a bird-poo free deck because it's my deck. Or that I have a right to tailgate the elderly gentleman in front of me because I'm in such a hurry. Or that I have the right to eat whatever I want (or do whatever I want) because it's my body.

The Bible talks about how we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and that we are to live with "actions and truth", not just empty words (1 John 3:18). So... if I say I love others, but I cut someone off, ignore the needs of those around or am simply not available... what is that really saying? If I'm so busy "making a living" but not ever truly loving, then what am I really accomplishing? If we have so much food that we are frequently throwing out waste, but we don't take the time to cook a meal for someone or give food to those that are hungry, what is that saying?

I once heard a pastor say that, "If it's all about Him, then it's all about them." And I can't think of a better way to sum up the commandment to, "Love God and love others". If I truly love God, then I won't trample over and ignore someone else in need. I'll give where I can give and do what I can do.... not because in "doing" I am able to check off a task from my "Good Little Christian" to-do list... but because in doing I am loving my God. I think so often we feel that being a Christian means that you are busy, you have no time and you always have to say "yes!". I don't agree with that. I think being busy distracts us from the good we could do and makes us feel that we are actually accomplishing something, when in reality, we're doing very little. I think always saying "Yes, I can!" creates a martyr syndrome and a "look what I do for God" mentality.

What does loving God and loving others look like for you? I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all here. My gifts are not your gifts. My calling is not your calling. Which is why it's ludicrous to volunteer for everything under the sun. Honey, you can't do everything. You can't be everything to everyone. All you can be is what God has created you to be... and if you're not sure what that is, yet, then break it down. Love God and love others. It is not a crime to stay at home and serve your family. It is not wrong to volunteer your time and give financially. It is not a crime to say "not this time" and open your hands to another opportunity instead.

But we have to get away from the attitude of what a "Good Christian would do" and get into what Jesus Christ would do (WWJD was catchy for a reason). Would He be resentful? Would He whine about how He "always" takes out the trash? Would He quietly serve? Would He see a need a fulfill it? Would He feed you when you're hungry and clean you up when you're a mess? Would He play mind games? Wouldn't He just love? Wouldn't (and didn't) His actions and words just illuminate His great love for us in all of our grappling humaneness?

Anyway, for me?... I think it means you let the Grackles eat their fill.

~ Philippians 1:27


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