Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? (Matt. 6:25-26)

Somehow the birds speak volumes to me through their quiet, simple presences.  Last spring a female robin made her home on the ledge outside our neighbor’s front porch.  She nested there for several weeks until her fledglings hatched and fled, but I watched her nearly every day with intensity.  I observed her intentionality and also the profundity of her trust.It occurred to me that the birds of the air live without knowing how or when they will find their food for the day or where they will keep shelter in the harshness of the elements throughout each season.  They do not concern themselves with complexity, worry, and frustration as we humans do.  Watching the serenity of this female robin as she waited patiently first for the birth of her fledglings, then for the time that they must leave her, I realized how little I possess that same level of expectant waiting.

It seems fitting that Jesus would speak to us about trust by using the allegory of a simple winged creature.  Trust, then, seems such a lowly concept and obvious at the same time, yet we miss opportunities to trust God throughout each day.

Trust is often generated by authentic, mature faith.  We often take faith for granted, defining it as simply believing in God and His goodness.  We pay lip service to that superficial belief, yet often our hearts do not coincide with a pure faith.

Faith is refined in the crucible of mystery.  When God invites us to enter into a deeper union with Him, we are often taken to a realm of the unknown in which uncertainty and darkness seem to float in a nebulous cloud around our hearts.  During these arid seasons of faith, our perseverance is tested.  Will we withstand what we cannot explain or even what appears contradictory to Truth?  Will we remain steadfast in our confidence in God’s promises?

Deserts produce the fruit of trust.  We traverse on an often lonely and monotonous path in the desert of faith, in which we can neither see nor hear God clearly.  Yet we stay the course, and this is the infancy of trust.  This is what it means to be cradled – as a young, innocent bird – in the arms of the One who made us.

When we recognize how small we truly are in the scope of eternity and in contrast to the Creator of all, we begin to surrender to the childlike trust that is necessary for our faith to mature both delicately and boldly.

Trust is also refined in love, since both are an act of the will (as is faith).  When I do not feel like praying or accepting a tenet that the Church professes as Truth, I again refer to my finiteness, my limited nature, and I recall that God’s ways and thoughts are so high above my own (see Isaiah 55:9).  In so doing, I am grounded and engulfed in humility, which permits me to see both myself and God honestly and unpretentiously.  Trust means that I offer my skepticism and unbelief as a conscious act of love, because I have faith that God wills for the good of my soul, always.

So I intentionally trust God’s ways above my own, and I do this precisely because I love Him.  My love has been refined and fine-tuned through the desert seasons in which I no longer seek to be loved by God, but rather I seek to love Him instead.  Only when I am stripped of consolations and spiritual comforts am I capable of proving that I love God for His own sake, rather than because of what He does for me.

The little birds possess an intuitive and instinctive trust.  They know not how or when or why their lives will begin or end, but they do not fret.  They do not conjure complicated what ifs that serve as a distraction of their primary goal, which is to reflect God’s glory in their simplicity.  There is immense wisdom in the language of birds, because they soar to the heights of Heaven without really touching it, and yet they are not disturbed.

Jesus is teaching us through this passage that He does not want us to be disturbed.  Modern psychologists profess that some stress can be beneficial (e.g., eustress), in terms of promoting efficiency and productivity of our motivations.  But Jesus wants to center us into a less complex existentialism that carries a mightier and permanent impact on our eternal souls – trust.

Trust like the little birds, He whispers to our hearts when we are caught in the madness of our frenzied lives.  Slow down and listen as the birds do, He continues with gentle persistence, tugging at our hearts.  Watch them.  Watch and wait.

Yet we seldom pause long enough to truly observe the wisdom of the birds.  We consider them inferior creatures, mere ordinary and plain beings, so we ignore their hidden theology.  When I watched that robin outside of my window last spring for weeks, I halted my life for only a few moments each day as I engaged in the monotony of washing dishes – just long enough to learn the lesson of trust.

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Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Lilies” by Bessi on Pixabay and edited by Jeannie Ewing on Canva.