To the ordinary person, the tree in my front flower bed is nothing more than just a pretty piece of landscaping. But, one day last week, I discovered that it’s something so much more.
For several days I noticed that every time the front door opened, a bird came shooting out of it and flew straight up to our rooftop. I assumed it was building a nest but, at first glance, nothing was visible. So one morning, on my way to the mailbox, I went in for a closer look. As I moved the branches around with my hands, a small nest, snugly situated high up in the branches, came into view. My eyes drifted up to the roof and perched right up on the edge was the worried momma bird, and the song she was singing was anything but sweet. It sounded distressed…manic…as though watching my fingers inch closer toward her masterpiece was making her nervous. Immediately I stepped away and went inside to warn the kids to steer clear of the tree. ‘For however long it takes,” I declared, “that tree doesn’t belong to us. It’s her tree for as long as she needs it.” Momma Bird had staked her claim and I had every intention of respecting her homestead.
But something else caught my attention last week: the distressed, nervous warnings of our local meteorologists. Every night, the evening news was filled with phrases we rarely hear in this part of Alabama. Phrases like “potentially devastating, long-track tornadoes” and “large, damaging hail.” And as the days went on, their expressions grew more somber. The governor declared a state of emergency due to the expected severe weather and temporarily suspended our ‘Stay at Home’ order. Shelters all around our area were opened and prepared to receive those who had nowhere else to hide from what we were certain was heading directly for us.
As Easter Sunday wore on, the warnings got more and more dire, and we began to pray. We kept our eyes on the news and watched as violent storms and golf-ball sized hail pummeled Mississippi. We listened as they estimated how many tornadoes had spawned from the storms and how many people were without power. We gathered bike helmets, flashlights, and pillows. Cleared out our coat closet under the stairs. And we waited.
During the waiting, my girls grew increasingly concerned about Momma Bird and her nest. They looked down from an upstairs window as the winds picked up and the tree began to bend and sway. At one point, Ella looked at me and said in the saddest voice, “I don’t think her nest is gonna make it, mommy. What will happen to her eggs if her nest falls out of the tree?” I looked into Ella’s big, brown eyes and I reminded her that His eye is on the sparrow. We talked about how God created those birds with instincts, how strong she probably built her nest, how she had carefully chosen that spot right in the center of the tree and disguised it so well that it had taken us a long time to even see it. I reassured her that Momma Bird’s home could weather the storm, and before she and Sophie fell asleep that night, they prayed for Momma Bird and her unhatched babies.
Miraculously, our area escaped the Easter Sunday storms without a single tornado. There was extensive damage to the counties and states east and west of us. The winds whipped through and took down trees. Over 2,000 people in our region were without power. Our lights flickered several times, but other than that, our little area escaped completely unscathed.
Yesterday, I awoke to beautiful blue skies. The kids were sleeping in after what had been a late night. My husband left for work and I poured myself a cup of coffee. As I went to take my first sip, I thought of Momma Bird and I ran outside to check. As soon as the front door opened, she darted out of the tree and perched herself on the corner of my roof. She sang furiously as I reached my hands up and pushed the branches aside and there–right in the middle of the tree–was her home. Just as snug as if nothing at all had happened the night before. I called up to her and told her good morning and that I was glad she and her home had survived the storm, and then I walked back into the house.
Sitting down to drink my coffee, I thought about the worry in Ella’s eyes the night before. I thought about the concern that could be heard in the voices of our meteorologists all week last week. And I thought about the faithfulness of our God. The God whose eye is on the sparrow. The God who sees our fears and our worries. The God who once stood in a boat being tossed around by a violent storm and calmed it by uttering a few simple words: “Peace. Be still.”
Like Momma Bird, I’ve been building my ‘home’ in a sturdy place. I’ve studied the pages of my Bible and made notes, asked questions, and dug for answers. I’ve circled words of wisdom, highlighted promises, and underlined phrases that brought me comfort and encouragement during some of my darkest days. And, like Momma Bird, I’ve weathered my fair share of storms. I’ve sat helplessly and watched people in my immediate family fall into the abyss of addiction. Spoken at the funeral of my step- brother who took his own life. I’ve held the hands of friends who have miscarried babies, sobbed with others as their marriages have fallen apart, and cried out in desperation for children I love to be healed of the horrors of epilepsy, cancer, and mental illness.
In every storm, I’ve taken my worries, fears, disappointments, frustrations, and sorrows back home; nestled them deep in the familiar pages of that Book and searched for answers to my questions. Sometimes I find the answers I’m seeking. Other times I don’t. But every single time I find a God who has proven Himself faithful.
If you’re reading these words right now, I pray that you’ll build your home in a snug and sturdy place, too. I pray that you’ll open the pages of a Bible and see a Creator who is faithful to His creation. It’s okay if you have to wade through the deep waters of loss, disappointment, fear, sorrow, and pain. You won’t be alone. There are plenty of us who will be there right alongside you and I’m confident if you look around you’ll see a friendly face or two. But, after the storm, when the wind finally settles and water recedes a little, I pray that you will know deep in your soul that you are recklessly, faithfully, eternally loved and He never took His eyes off of you. Not even for a single second.