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.