As a family we take our holiday’s in the UK, and last year we stayed in a cottage in Devon. The cottage has a private area they call the secret garden and one of my favourite things to do is to take a pot of tea and a book and sit alone in that space. I love being outdoors whatever the weather and usually feel close to God as I notice the wonders of His creation. I confess that when I am in outside, I often find myself distracted and instead of reading I sit watching the birds.
There was a day probably about 8 weeks ago now, where I could not get my brain to work. I felt completely distracted, I was tearful and fearful, I wanted to pray but could not find the words or the energy (there have indeed been many days like this). It felt like all the strength I had was being used in merely existing and keeping my family alive. I tried reading The Bible, but the words would not go in, they jumbled around the page and my failure to take in what I was reading was just adding to my frustrations. I wandered over to my back door and stood staring out at the garden. On this particular day there seemed to be hundreds of sparrows on the feeder, they were making lots of noise and the babies were tweeting eagerly calling to be fed. As I stood watching them my mind went back to Devon and watching the birds, I then remembered my honeymoon in Cyprus (before I came to faith) there was sparrows there too, hopping around by the swimming pool, I remember watching them and being surprised that they was there but finding comfort in their familiarity.
As I stood watching the sparrows in my garden, pondering all the places I have seen sparrows, my thoughts unexpectedly turned to scripture. I realised how ancient sparrows are, I have many birds visiting my garden but of those only sparrows are mentioned by name in the Bible. I picked up my Bible and turned to Matthew 10 verses 29-31, it reads
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs on your head are all counted. SO DO NOT BE AFRAID; you are of more value than sparrows”
How amazing is that? God used that moment, He used my despair, He used my previous experiences and memories to bring me back to Him, to remind me of His steadfast love, his faithfulness and that nothing is hidden from Him, and how precious we all are in His sight. It felt that those words were written just for me, this is one of the marvellous mysteries of scripture. How can something so old, written in a completely different context still come alive and speak to us today? I then found myself singing an old hymn that was buried deep in the depths of my mind from my school days, it gave me comfort and hope when all I had felt was despair.
“There are hundreds of sparrows, thousands and millions,
They’re two a penny, far too many there must be;
There are hundreds and thousands, millions of sparrows,
But God knows every one and God loves me!
The truth is those words in the Bible were written for me; in fact they were written for us all. God inspired those early writers to put their experiences in writing, those experiences are His story. Just as God used my previous experiences to reach out and connect with me, He will use yours too. Being a Christian isn’t always easy, or comfortable and if you are hoping for the happy clappy Christianity often portrayed in the press and movies, then you will probably be disappointed. But if you are looking for a relationship with the one who was and is and is yet to come, the one who knew you when you was knitted together in your Mother’s womb, who has counted every hair on your head and has your name written on the palm of His hand, then listen as He is calling out to you. Will you dare to say yes to God?