Lessons From An Unexpected Source

By: Marcy Barthlette

He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

We recently returned from a two-week stay in a cabin at Big Cedar Lodge with a good friend. It’s an annual event that we eagerly anticipate. She provides the lodging and we provide transportation and food. It’s a good arrangement for all of us and a great break from the winter doldrums. This year was a little different than past experiences. We typically enjoy quite a few nice days, times when we can be outdoors enjoying all of creation. Sometimes it’s even been warm enough for paddle boating and often we have found ourselves competing against each other on the mini-golf course.  

But this year, old man winter had other ideas. You may recall recent storm warnings of 8-12 inches of snow. We were the bulls eye of that warning band. And, before we had time to recover from all that snow, there were new warnings of multiple rounds of mixed precipitation. I really don’t relish those because they can mean anything from ice to sleet to snow. And that’s pretty much what we got. We were blessed in that our power stayed on and we had ample wood to keep a warm fire going all the time. I felt for the many folks who couldn’t say the same.

But the loveliest blessing of all came in the form of a majestic red-shouldered hawk who chose to perch just feet away from our deck for long periods of time searching for a good meal on the ground below. His total concentration was focused on survival. He sensed a storm was coming and that his body needed solid food in order to stay warm and healthy. He wasn’t bothered by other birds or animals or even distracted by curious humans.

We were fascinated when he turned his head 180° increasing his field of vision. How many times have I wished for eyes in the back of my head? He practiced enormous patience, waiting for just the right morsel. He perched totally still through snow and sleet until that morsel made the mistake of moving beneath the tree. And then, he amazed us with his agility, his quickness to flight when something was sighted. He dived so fast, we almost missed his descent. The poor little critter below didn’t stand a chance.

In the animal world, creatures are driven by the instinct to survive. They must always be alert to their surroundings, whether searching for food or nesting material, being alert to the presence of predators, or sensing when the weather can turn treacherous. I wonder if I exercise the same level of focus and on whom or what do I direct that focus.

If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit that too often I dwell on frivolous matters. When a storm threatens, I don’t have to hunt for my food outdoors, I just go to the local grocery store and when they don’t have an item on my list, I obsess over why it isn’t there. When the checkout lane is long, I grumble. When a driver pulls in front of me, I may have a choice word or two to sling her way. In short, my focus is misplaced.

When an item is out of stock, I need to find a replacement. When the line is long, I need to turn to the man behind me carrying only two items while corralling an irate child and let him go ahead of me. And when that woman nearly runs me down in the parking lot, well, maybe it wasn’t really that close, I probably need to remember that she’s in a hurry to stock up too. My total focus should be on emulating Jesus in all I do.

That beautiful bird illustrates some of the qualities Jesus asks us to practice and I don’t mean hunting mice to eat. My hawk friend was unbelievably patient and tolerant of nasty weather. He knew the rules of his game and he persisted until he was successful. He was totally focused on his mission until it was completed. How often can I say the same? Our mission is clear. We have a rule book to follow and we have a helper who will be with us all the time. As far as I know, He probably doesn’t look like a bird, but He will shelter us under His protective wings and provide for our needs.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  
Psalm 91:4   

2 Responses to “Lessons From An Unexpected Source”

  1. Rebecca Grant says:

    Marcy, thank you so much for your words of comfort and peace showing that HE always provides for us AND for us to ALWAYS look around us to help others. There are, what I like to call “God Winks,” as we traverse through our daily activities, if we will only acknowledge HIM.

    I enjoy your stories.


  2. Jill Moran says:

    Thanks for the reminder.

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