This is a brief word (about 2 1/2 minutes).
This is a brief word (about 2 1/2 minutes).
I have several hummingbird feeders in my yard and most of the year we have guests at those feeders. The Ruby-throated hummers are by nature extremely territorial. If I happen to walk near one of the feeders and there is a hummingbird nearby at the time, I can expect to hear them repeatedly voice their displeasure and often begin to see them zoom about a bit several yards off. However, this month is the first time I have had a hummingbird “strafe” me.
The particular Ruby-throated male I have in mind is exceedingly bold, unflinchingly flying, or even hovering for relatively long periods of time, within 1-2 feet of me. If he is hovering beside me or behind me and I then turn and face him directly, he will immediately put a bit more distance between us – beyond arm’s length – but will then proceed to repeatedly buzz me quite close until either I leave or he changes tactics.
I greatly admire his courage and bravery. How much bigger am I than he? There is no comparison. But does that make a difference in his actions? None whatsoever. I can consistently count on this: if we are in the yard at the same time – and believe me, he knows it if we are – he will confront me, the “enemy,” and will do so courageously with skill and wisdom.
All of which reminds me of two things. First, that one of the themes that runs like a rope throughout the entirety of the book of Acts – the book in the Bible like no other that tells of the true life of our community of faith for today, the church – is backbone and fortitude, guts, and nerve. In fact, such even forms the final word in the book. It is the dominant thought that Luke, the author, wants imprinted on our mind and ringing in our ears until the end:
“… proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28.31)
Second, it reminds me of things James, Peter, and Paul said:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4.7)
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” (1 Peter 5.8-9a)
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16.13-14)
And so my feathered “friend” – my aerial “hero” – prompts me to pray this way:
God, make me ever like this bird: courageous and strong, skillful and wise, confident and yet well aware of my limitations. May I know no fear save fear of displeasing you and may every beat of my heart be beats of trust in you, for I know you care for me always. So, what have I to fear, for you are with me? And so, may I be with you. Daily. By the courageous Christ I pray. Amen.
Lord, have mercy!
Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.
Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.
Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.
Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.
In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.
Great Physician you have healed and raised little ones. You help those who hurt and you defeat disease. As you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, you will not rest until all that is unhealthy for your creation is taken away.
And so, as you encourage the little children to come to you, hear me as I ask this of you – go to this one. Stand beside Little Javie. Use every person and instrument you would in your kindness and care to bring him through this surgery well. Recover him and bring him through to a complete recovery.
Then let his newfound wellness be a strong, unquestionable testimony to your love and power.