There once was a young boy who wanted a bird for his birthday. Now the boy knew his father to be a wise and generous man and so he went to his father with his request. He told his father all about the bird he wanted. Not just any bird, mind you, for the boy knew exactly what kind of bird he wanted. He wanted a finch. But not just any finch – a zebra finch! The boy’s father smiled when he heard this but said nothing.
On the boy’s birthday the father suddenly appeared at the boy’s bedroom door with a beautiful zebra finch perched on his finger. The boy ran to his father joyfully and extended his own finger to the bird. The bird hopped onto his finger.
The boy however, was perplexed. “Father,” said the boy, “where is the birds cage?” “Oh my dear son,” said the father, “if you place this bird in a cage you will surely not have the bird you truly desired.”
But the boy was afraid the bird might fly away, so he went to the store and purchased a birdcage. When he came home he found that the bird did not want to go into the cage. It was a small frightening place with bars all around! But, the boy insisted on placing the bird in the cage and chased the bird with a net around and around the room until it was finally caught and placed in the cage!
Now the boy had wanted the bird to be his friend and so he would open the door of the cage and place his hand inside hoping the bird would perch on his finger again. But the bird was terrified and flew fitfully back and forth whenever the boy would place his hand in the cage. The boy reflected on this for awhile and after some time had passed he determined that his father had certainly not given him the bird he had asked for.
And the boy was angry with his father…
One day the father came to the boy’s room and saw his son sitting next to the cage with a frown on his face. The father said to the boy, “What is it that weighs so heavily upon your heart?” The boy jumped up pointing his finger at his father and said, “Why have you given this bird to me? This is not the bird I asked for as a gift!” His father replied, “Surely, this is the bird you asked for as a gift. But it is not the bird you truly desired! This bird has known you only as its captor, the warden of the prison you have placed it in. It has not had the opportunity to choose you as its friend, but instead, because you were afraid, you have tried to force your friendship with the bird entirely on your own terms.”
“But who knows” said the father, “perhaps if you open the door of the cage, the bird may yet fly out and choose to become the friend you truly desire.”
And the boy opened the cage…
Copyright © 2000 by R. Thomas Brass
All rights reserved.
I believe the time we live in is a time where God is allowing a shaking in order to distinguish that which is not eternal (the created things of the world) from that which is eternal. The world we live in is a temporary abode. Our hope must be firmly placed in our eternal destiny with the Lord.
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” 2 Cor 5:1
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” Heb 12:26
If our faith is too much in this world we will be susceptible to being shaken from our foundations when unsettling events happen around us. It is important that we, as Christians, respond to situations like this with the calmness, hope, and inner assurance that give testimony to the foundation upon which we are being matured in Christ Jesus. This is necessary in order to demonstrate to the people of the world that our security is not in our physical well-being, but instead, in the unshakable promises of God through Christ.
Let us try to keep this perspective in our minds and in our hearts so that we can be a living testimony of the eternal hope we have in Christ Jesus in the midst of the chaos of the world around us!
Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
When God said, “Let US make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness”, His words declared for us a special, inherent, essential unity with God. We are being told that we have been created in the image of the triune God; the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are fashioned by the hand and heart of God in His triune image that we might follow after God in the very way that He proceeds forth. Like God, we are three and we are one. We are spirit, soul and body.
In this life, our spirit has been born again, our soul is being transformed into the image of Christ, and our body will be resurrected and perfected in the next life. With our born-again spirit we are able to hear God’s voice. With our soul we are able to choose to surrender to His will. With our body we are able to do what He has called us to do.
In this way, we attain to the greatest commandment given to us by the Lord: Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37,38)
Much of the disappointment we experience in our life is the result of misplaced confidence. Typically, people who hope too much in the things of this world and in other people experience considerable frustration and disillusionment. Those who learn to truly hope in the Lord experience a peaceful heart that sustains them even during times of trouble in their personal relationships.
Therefore, a trusting person who is occasionally taken advantage of by others is better off than the cynic who will trust no one. Those who trust fearlessly will plant seed and reap an eternal harvest that will more than compensate for their losses. Their hope is ultimately in the Lord.
Luke 6:29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Hopelessness is birthed by sin while hopefulness is birthed by faith. Typically, the greater our sinfulness; the greater our sense of hopelessness. Conversely, the greater our faith; the greater our sense of hope.
“As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (Hebrews)
If God is the potter and we are the clay (Romans 9:21); may we never become hardened pottery. The hardened pot can no longer be molded by the master. It can only be broken and reprocessed.
This is something I have rarely ever shared with anybody. I became a born again Christian in 1989 when I was 36 years old. And for much of my Christian life I have experienced excruciating ongoing physical pain from a variety of health issues. My life experience tells me that most people don’t experience a fraction of what I have endured. And yet, some have endured even more. For the most part, the only time I have ever talked about this is when it has been so painful and debilitating that it is just impossible to hide it. I am very good at hiding it. And I hate self-pity. Over the years I have occasionally asked for prayer but I decided long ago that I did not want to burden others endlessly with concern over this. Especially my children. This has been my choice and I still believe it has been the right one for me.
My salvation experience was truly an amazing encounter with God. But about 6 months later I had another life changing encounter with God. I was sitting in my living room reading a booklet about sacrificial praise that was exhorting the reader to praise God even in the worst of times. In agreement with the principles in this pamphlet I decided that I should raise up both my arms and praise the Lord. I had seen others do this but I had not yet taken that step. I hesitated for a couple of minutes because I was afraid that the neighbors might see me standing in my well lit living room with both of my arms outstretched in this way and wonder what in the world I was doing.
Finally, I overcame my fear and with an almost angry determination I raised my arms to praise the Lord while saying things like, “Thank you, Jesus.” I totally did not FEEL like doing this. I just knew it was right and pushed myself to do it. I immediately experienced a profound presence of the Holy Spirit while poetic-like words of prophecy began pouring into my mind. I made my way to the kitchen and sat down with a tablet and pen and began to write – amazed at the things I was writing. It definitely wasn’t me coming up with these things. This was the beginning of that particular anointing for me.
As I have reflected on this over the years, I have concluded that God’s lesson to me through this encounter was that a sacrifice of praise, especially when you REALLY don’t feel like it, is just about the most appropriate thing that a Christian can do in the face of any and all adversity in this life. Praising God in the midst of life’s hardships testifies to the integrity of our commitment to him. Doing so from our heart reveals that our service to Him transcends the pains and inconveniences of our life. It is the spiritual meter that measures the depth of our convictions and declares to the world that our God is worth it.
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.