Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge God, and God will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Here is a cute story: a momma hen had ten little chickens. Nine of them were little girl chickens and one was a little boy chicken. Momma hen had to go away, so she told all of the girls to take good care of their little brother. She went away, and when she came back, all the little girls were crying and crying and crying. She said, “What in the world is the matter? Where is little brother?”
They said, “Momma, while you were gone, the minister came to visit the farmer, and the farmer came out and took little brother.”
So mama hen cried and cried, and then said, “Well, I’m glad that if he had to go, he went into the ministry. He wouldn’t have made a good layman anyway.”
God can talk to you, using many ways to get your attention. A woman shares this story:
Here is an experience that many of us may have shared at one time or another.
“I lived about two blocks from the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I would go down to the shore and walk on the beach with the fresh wind blowing in my face. I loved that. This particular time, I was feeling very low and confused, not knowing what in the world I was doing there. I sat on a rock and began to talk out loud (because nobody can hear you by the ocean).
I said, ‘God, what I am doing here?’ You know, there are always pelicans going by, seagulls that are always very raucous, and cute little sandpipers at the beach. But suddenly, at that moment, I noticed a little English Song Sparrow on a small bush right beside me. When I asked that question, he started to sing. Instantly tears came to my eyes.
Before I came into the work of the church, I was in the hospital for a long time, and then I was home recuperating. I lived in the Northwest and we had lots of those little English Song Sparrows. There was one who would come to the bushes by the window of my bedroom, and he would sing and sing and sing.
(enjoy listening as you read.)
My mother used to tell me, ‘Your little bird is singing for you. He’s telling you that you are going to get well.’
“And then here, fifty years later by the ocean, was a little Song Sparrow.
First of all, to me he was totally out of place. I was just thrilled to hear him. I loved him and appreciated him as he sang to me. That’s when it came to me, ‘There’s always an answer. There’s always a way. I’m in my right place at the right time.’ That began to sing itself in me over and over again. It’s been a very strong point in my prayer consciousness ever since.”
Do you know about Victor Frankel? Well, he had a very thick German accent. It was difficult to understand him, but he had a great impact on all of who were privileged to hear him. Here was a man, who was put in a concentration camp during World War II. He was a Jewish scientist, a very strong man in consciousness, and a very dignified soul who had all he owned in a manuscript he had worked on for years. When he entered the concentration camp, they stripped him of everything. There he stood, naked, but he clutched his manuscript. Then they took that and threw it away. He realized that all he had was what went on within his own mind and heart.
He realized that he had a responsibility and a choice to be what he was destined to be.
I’d like to tell you some of his story because it’s so powerful.
He tells about how out in this cold, cold weather, they sent all these people out on marches and how they would go to these fields and dig and dig.
He said: “As we stumbled on for miles slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said but we knew each of us was thinking of his wife. My mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look, real or not.
Her look was then more luminous than the sun, which was beginning to rise.
“A thought transfixed me. For the first time in my life, I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers, the truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret of human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart—the salvation of humanity is through love and in love.
“The dawn was gray around us. Gray was the sky above. Gray was the snow in the pale light of dawn. Gray were the rags in which my fellow prisoners were clothed, and gray were their faces. In the last violent protest against the hopelessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes!” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose.
“At that moment, a light was lit in a distant farmhouse which stood on the horizon as if painted there. In the midst of the miserable gray of a dawning morning in Bavaria, ‘And a light shineth in the darkness.’ For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground. The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved. More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me. I had the feeling that I was able to touch her; able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers. The feeling was very strong. She was there. Then, at that very moment, a bird flew silently and perched just in front of me on the heap of soil which I had dug up from the ditch, and looked steadily at me.”
He went on to say that at that very moment, he knew she had died and she was truly with him.
I bring this up because I believe that all creation is one, and that we, as travelers on this wonderful world of life, are always receiving signs. Like Walt Whitman said, “God writes letters to me in the grass.” (“Leaves of Grass,” W.W.) I think there is always a confirmation, every time we ask, that the presence is real and is there.
A sign means something material or external that stands for or signifies something spiritual, something that serves to indicate the presence or existence of something. That’s what the dictionary says.
In the Bible, in the Old Testament particularly, we find that people looked all the time for signs from God. Jesus was constantly asked to show a sign of His authority. “What authority do you have,” they would say. In the Gospel of John they said, “What sign showeth Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?” The Gospel of Mark says, “And he sighed deeply in the spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek after a sign?'”
In the truth of the one presence and the one power, God the good, omnipotent, looking for signs to confirm God’s presence could and does foster superstition.
One man said: “When I was a little boy, living at my grandparent’s house after my father died, my grandmother used to say that a bird at the window meant that somebody just died. Breaking a mirror meant bad luck. A black cat crossing our path meant that something would happen which we wish wouldn’t.”
We make our own signs. Often we are as likely to call a certain event or indication of direction positive as well as negative. Here’s where level of consciousness comes in. If you are a negative person, the signs are read as negative. If you are a positive person, the sign is a good sign.
This is what Jesus was experiencing with the Pharisees and the people of His day. He knew where they were coming from. They had a lack of faith; they doubted; they had fear; they were ignorant. He knew that healing people, raising the dead, casting out demons, could easily have been interpreted as evil and of the devil.
We live in God, a universe of love, law, life, and order. We worship in a household of faith and/or in our little Bethel. We are in God, right now. There is no outside to God; and God is everywhere bringing order and life. We live and move in God, in a universe of order, and we are constantly receiving signals of intelligent life. Our task, or our assignment, is to accept our God-given guidance of good; that which is healthy, helpful, and constructive.
A bird is all feathers.
There was once a little parakeet. He was the cockiest little fellow that ever was. He learned everything. He did anything that any bird could ever do. He was entertainment to the people who watched him. Then he would take a bath, and he was nothing. He wasn’t as big as your little finger. He was all feathers. That’s sort of the way we are too. Out here, we are all feathers. The only reality, and it was true in the little bird, is the heartbeat, the Divine design, the image of a perfect little bird.
People joke about having intelligence as small as a bird brain. But birds are very, very smart. They have highly developed sight, acute hearing, high temperature. (They have such a circulation that they are warm all the time.). Its ability to sustain a uniform temperature is almost perfect. For most rapid flights, the plumage protects and conserves the body heat because it is non-conducting.
God, our Creator, is magnificent, beyond even what we can comprehend.
There are 8,600 known species of birds today. The symbol of a bird is well known. For example, a dove means peace. The eagle means strength. In Isaiah it says, “Ye shall rise up with wings as the eagle.”
There is always an answer. There is always a way. It is within us. We can allow that light of Christ to be in us and really draw it into focus when we need it, and not only when we need it, but also every single second of the day.
So, when a bird comes and gives us that reminder, or people, or events, come into our lives to remind us, it will always turn out well, if we are reminded of God’s good and the creative plan of good that is always in order. There is always an answer and there is always a way.
Freedom Within by James Dillet Freeman
How free the hawk who, at the height
Of heaven, flings himself in flight.
But his high flights had first to start, Not in the sky, but in his heart.
Likewise with me. How shall I find
Freedom if not within my mind?
And learn, with thought by thought I try, That I may fall, yet I can fly.
And even sometimes rise up free
Beyond the highest heights of me.
God’s perfect power and presence is always with us. There is always an answer, there is always a way.
With positive, faith-filled spiritual awareness, we can and do accept God’s miracle of life. It is, itself, a sign that as we listen, persevere, pray, and learn, as thought by thought we try, and even sometimes even rise up free beyond the highest heights of our former self.
We give thanks, oh God, that somehow we can come together in a place like this, and that we can all, through songs, words, Christian companionships, and quietness, remember again. Thank You, God.
Let us pray. Dear God, we each ask for a sign that we can understand, that gives us a full comprehension of Your presence, and help. Help us to fully know that You are with us right now.
We pray for a heightened awareness, and a greater faith.
In Jesus Christ name… Amen