For the Birds

We’ve been delighted with the flurry of Baltimore Orioles visiting our bird feeders this year.

My oldest son laughed when he learned that they like to eat orange slices and grape jelly. 

When we noticed them drinking out of the hummingbird feeders, we wondered why they had such a sweet tooth. 

Orioles, Grosbeaks, and Hummingbirds all enjoy a higher sugar diet during some parts of the year. My son hypothesized that it had to do with the distance of their migration patterns. Did longer migration demand more energy?

In his research, he learned that while lengthy migrations demanded more fat storage, so did other demanding events in a bird’s life: winter, raising young, and recovering from injury. 

We all need a little extra to make it through hard times.

One hummingbird adds as much as ten percent of its body weight before migrating across the Gulf of Mexico. (It’s a straight-through flight for the little guys.) Grosbeaks make the journey in one night!

Unlike the predictable pattern of bird migration, demanding events in our lives often come without warning. The winter of depression, the migration from one season to another, and recovering from loss sap our strength.

What can we do to build up spiritual and emotional “body fat” for these times that demand perseverance and resilience?

Well, like the birds, we can seek out the sweet stuff. The Psalmist encouraged us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

If in the good times, we already seek our refuge in the Lord, He will continue to be our refuge in the deluge. His fellowship with us is sweet. We learn to savor it and treasure it up, storing it up for later.

The prophet Isaiah warned the people: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

In our thirst for the sweetness of the Lord to sustain us in hard times, we may fall prey to confusing His sweetness with the bitterness of the world. Just to slake our thirst, we are willing to substitute just about anything for the Goodness of God. But there is no substitute. 

I recently decreased the amount of sugar I was consuming and traded it for real maple syrup. At first, the syrup tasted funny. It didn’t seem as sweet as sugar. However, after a week of eating less sugar, the syrup tasted better than sugar ever had while sugar took on a kind of chemical burnt taste.

When we decrease our culture consumption in favor of consuming more of God’s Word and Truth, we have a similar experience. His sweetness makes the world very bitter indeed. What the world offers is for the birds!

Will you be ready the next time your circumstances demand endurance? It’s a good lesson learned from the birds.

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