While painting some gutters, a baby bird’s chirp caught my attention. Not wanting to alarm him, I looked high and low for the nest but was unable to find it.
Repositioning my ladder, the chirps increased in volume and intensity. Peering cautiously into the bush, I searched the shadows for him. But what I meant as cautionary he perceived as a tactical threat. Launching himself from his hiding place, and giving me a scare, the young sparrow flew away.
Only he was too young to fly. So instead of reaching another bush and safety, he landed in the yard. Dazed, he chirped repeatedly, no doubt calling to his parents for help.
Standing high on my ladder, I had the perfect assessment of his situation. Not only was he out in the open and easy prey for the neighborhood cats, but he sat only a few feet away from a busy street. I knew he couldn’t escape danger, and that it was impossible for his parents to help him, so I decided to make the rescue.
Hopping off my ladder, I grabbed an empty 1 gallon bucket to trap him, scoop him up and then set him free. At least that was the plan.
But as I neared, he chirped and flapped and flitted away. Once more, he presumed that my intention was harm when in reality I only wanted to rescue him. And in fact, his efforts to escape were not only moving him toward the street, but were alerting the prowling cats.
Desperate, I crouched and crept closer. And as quickly as I could, I dropped the bucket over him.
I could hear his wings fluttering against the bucket and his frantic chirps echoing within. My heart broke. I wished that I could speak “sparrow” and tell him that I had no intention of hurting him, and that this was the only way to rescue him, and that he was going to live, and that I would set him free in an even better place.
And it was at that moment that I better understood how God must “feel” trying to love me. It’s not a perfect picture, but like the sparrow, in my attempts to find freedom apart from God, I’ve discovered gravity’s ruling hand and have landed in the middle of danger. Likewise, I too interpreted his scooping “hand” as being hurtful and cruel. But looking back, perhaps standing on a rung of life’s ladder, I see that it was the only way out, and what I defined as harm was in fact the most loving thing he could have done.