Thursday, April 8, 2010

God's Heart for the Alien

After we lost our little Shih Tzu Lydie last May, my only pets were “my” bluebirds. I eagerly anticipate their inspection of the bluebird “condo” I put up for them outside our bedroom window. I enjoy seeing the guy bring his girl to check out the digs. The male seeks to impress the female by finding a great first home and proving himself to be an able provider. I have seen the female stick her head into the entrance hole at least thirty times to carefully inspect the box and figure out if all the furniture will fit.

This year, there was a problem. A big problem…with a small bird: English sparrows, to be exact. Sometimes they take over bluebird houses, and they have been known to actually kill the bluebirds if they trap them in the house. So bluebird enthusiasts instruct you to trap and kill the sparrows (since they are not indigenous birds, it is legal to kill them). I could never do that, so I just clean out the nesting material and put duct tape over the hole, hoping they will give up and settle elsewhere.

This year I went back and forth with them, but they kept persisting. Finally I thought I had won the battle when a pair of bluebirds came house hunting and seemed to be settled on my offering.

But the next thing I knew, here was Mr. Sparrow popping into the hole carrying a load of straw. Foiled again!

I finally gave up, assuming that the bluebirds had been intimidated and decided the neighborhood was too dangerous.

I used to get up in the mornings and open my blinds to check in on the bluebirds. I still open the blinds and look out, but it doesn't give me any pleasure to see the little sparrow head poking out of the house.

I realized that I had to get a handle on this. I really resented the sparrows for messing up my joy. Those alien birds. They don’t belong here anyway. I missed my beautiful bluebirds.

Tom said, “Maybe God is just protecting the sparrows.” Which I know is true; the Bible tells me so. But I still muttered a bit.

Then I thought about God’s heart for the aliens in the Old Testament:

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)

“And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Deut. 10:19)

“Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:10)

God has a soft heart for the alien. And if I get right down to it, I was an alien myself before God redeemed me and brought me into his family:

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household." (Ephesians 2:19)

And in another way, I am now an alien in this world:

"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." (1 Peter 2:11)

I pray that God will use that little brown English sparrow to remind me to have my Father’s heart for the alien.

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