The bird with the broken leg

I’ve been fascinated with birds in this season. It may just be the added stillness of being at home during COVID-19, but they seem to be tweeting louder than usual. I find myself stopping to watch them as they fly so happily from tree to tree. They are all so unique and there are so many different kinds and colors. I’ve even come to learn which bird makes which sound (thanks mom!)

Yesterday, after cutting up some watermelon and cucumber, chopping some mint and squeezing some lemon into a delicious summer salad for a family get together, I popped on the lid, grabbed my keys and headed out the door. With the large bowl in one hand and my purse in the other, I slowly pushed open the basement door that led to my apartment’s underground garage. Something on the ground caught my eye right away. A little bird was rolling around in circles. My eyes did a double take and I realized that the bird was missing a leg or a wing and couldn’t fly. The flustered bird continued to roll around as I stared at it. I didn’t know what to do. I scanned my bags wondering if I had something that could help scoop it up, but realized my watermelon salad wasn’t going to help much. I continued to watch and began to pray for the bird because that is all I knew to do. All of a sudden, the bird stopped flailing and it almost looked like it gave up, exhausted and resigned to its fate. My heart ached. And then I heard the ignition of a car start up.

“Noooo,” I thought in my head. “Please don’t hurt this bird.” The bird began to flail again. I wonder if she heard the car, too. Soon after, a baby blue Ford SUV came around the corner of the garage and I winced. Then the car stopped. I let out a breath. The driver thankfully saw the bird in front of her. She opened her driver’s side door and I explained to her that the bird was hurt and I wasn’t sure what to do. The amazingly kind-hearted lady said, “I have a towel,” and walked over to her car. Her towel was actually a restaurant napkin and she gently scooped up the bird in her hands. The bird didn’t even flinch. It was like she (I decided the bird was a girl) knew that she was being rescued. We peeked at the sweet bird. It was so small and fit right in the woman’s hands. It looked peaceful and calm. The lady said she would put her some place safe. I said, “Thank you so much” and walked to my car.

As soon as I opened my door and sat down, hot tears fell down my face. I didn’t know where they came from (it was just a bird after all), but sobs heaved from my chest. I’ve learned to just let them flow so I sat there and cried. I felt such relief that the bird was okay and so grateful for that woman who saved the day. As I wiped away tears from my eyes a few minutes later, I realized that this hit much deeper than surface level. The story was much bigger than an injured bird in a garage. I realized I saw myself in that bird. Her story was my story, too.

I’ve spent so much of my life fighting my own brokenness. I’ve spent so much time flailing by myself, trying to figure out things on my own. I’ve idolized independence and perfection. I’ve hated myself for feeling weak. And like that bird, I’ve found myself going around and around in circles, broken and utterly exhausted.

I found myself in the exact same position as that bird yesterday — not physically on the floor of a garage, but emotionally on the floor of my soul. I needed rescue, but all week I had been trying to figure out how to rescue myself instead of opening myself up to be rescued. And I was tired. But God is so gracious. I believe he sent that bird to give me a tangible picture of what was going on in my heart and to remind me who he is.

One day, Jesus was in Jerusalem and he said, “How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you wouldn’t let me” (Matthew 23:37). Do you hear the yearning in his voice? There’s also this kindness — he doesn’t force us to come close. We have absolute freedom to decide. But he longs to cover us and to comfort us like a hen does with her babies. For a lot of my life, I’ve gone kicking and screaming into the arms of Jesus. Only when I’m at the end of my rope do I finally let him in — but every time he comes in, I wish I let him in sooner.

I’ve learned that the key to letting Jesus into our hearts is surrender. Usually daily surrender. But the great thing is that we don’t even have to know the next steps. We just ask him to come in. And some mysterious and beautiful way, he does. He enters into the deepest places when we give him permission. And he does it so gently like the lady who picked up the injured bird. And it’s there we realize that we don’t have to fight anymore.

Is there a space in your life that is hurting? Are you exhausted trying to figure out life on your own? Do the worries seem to be circling like crows in the sky? You may not see him, but your rescuer is right next to you. You don’t have to rescue yourself anymore. There’s an easier way. Pray this prayer with me today: “Jesus, I give up. I surrender [this] to you. I don’t know how to move or what to think or where to go or what to do, but I ask that you come in and rescue me. Like that little bird, scoop me into your hands and fill me with your peace. And I will watch to see what you will do.”

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