I have a great view from up here. As I sit and type, I can see clear across The Wash towards North Lincolnshire. This morning the coast is obscured in cloud, but often I can see Skegness when the weather is clear. The sea, even when it is doing battle with the wind, can be very calming to watch.
So too are the family of Herring Gulls who have nested atop of the four storey block of flats directly opposite me. For those of you who don’t know, Herring Gulls are the noisy birds which frequent seaside towns. They are fond of chips, and fish too. Many people complain about them – mainly because of the noise they make, or the way the steal chips from people’s fish suppers. They could be described as the Lager Louts of the bird world. Personally, I like them. The seaside wouldn’t be the same without them. They have been very noisy this morning. I’m not sure why. There doesn’t appear to be any discernable pattern to their noise making.
When fully grown, these sharp-eyed birds are really quite majestic to observe. Their brilliant white and grey plumage, sets them apart from the other gulls. To watch them, as I am now, just soaring on the warm thermals, their wings not flapping, being taken up and up on the breeze is really something quite special.
The family who I have observed for the past couple of weeks or so are fascinating to watch. The chicks didn’t appear until around a fortnight ago. They were there before that, but where hidden from my view by a raised ledge around the top of the flats. I could see the parents the whole while, for they would sit on top of the ledge or perch on the TV aerial which is fixed to the roof.
When you first see the chicks, there are two in this brood, you are struck by a number of things. Firstly, they are completely dependent upon the parents. Secondly, compared to the parents, just how ugly their speckled grey plumage is, and thirdly, just how patient they are.
The two chicks, over the past two weeks will just sit there, for hours, not moving, almost motionless, until one of the parents returns. Now, I am no twitcher, so I have no idea which parent is which. But I do know that when the parents return from whatever they get up to, the chicks cease their sitting around and start to follow the parents. They will walk along the entire length of the ledge following the parents. It appears to be part of a process, but I am not sure what. Then, presumably after food has been imparted to the chicks, the parents soar off again into the sky and the chicks return to their sitting and waiting.
Of course, you may well be asking why I am telling you this. Well, it’s pretty simple really. Like with all things to do with being a disciple of Y’shua (Jesus’ Hebrew name), the answer to your problems is in the Master’s words.
I have spoken on this blog before about not worrying and how Y’shua counsels us over such matters, but it struck me a few weeks ago that whenever Y’shua gives us a command, He also gives us the practical method of obeying that command. In both Matthew chapter six and Luke chapter 12, Y’shua teaches about not worrying. Of course, only the newer translations of the gospels include the word ‘worry‘. The true sentiment of the text is ‘give no thought to‘. Whatever it is, Y’shua says don’t spend any time thinking about it. And then He gives us the practical answer. He tells us to look at and consider the way in which birds live. I have learned that this command isn’t to be a brief minute of contemplation about birds. It means when you are worrying or stressing about the basic things of life; when you find a lack of faith about provision; then stop. Take a look at the birds. Find somewhere to sit where you can observe them. Then watch them. Consider what they do, how they go about their business. It works. It really does. Try it and see.
This morning, just as dawn was breaking, I saw the two chicks both standing on the ledge. One parent stood a little way off on top of an air conditioning unit or something. The chicks were flexing their wings. No longer were these small birds whose heads were pulled into their bodies and their wings were tucked up beside them. You could now see their necks and the start of the white plumage beneath their wings as they flapped and flapped. I watched as they felt the power of the wind beneath their wings lift them a few inches from the ground. Both would draw they wings in again and settle back upon the ledge. Then they would repeat it. It was clear that one was more confident of this new found skill than the other. The parent watched as the confident one climbed higher each time. The less confident sibling tried to match the heights but didn’t quite get there. Then, in a rare moment of strange beauty, I watched the confident one, a chick no more, now a fledgling, let the wind take him (or her) up and up. The fledgling didn’t draw his wings in, instead he let the wind carry him. At this point, something unexpected happened. Instated of waiting for the less confident one to catch up, the parent soared up to be with the confident one. For a moment I thought that the parent was abandoning the chick, but then I saw the purpose. With sibling and parent both in the air, the chick only had one choice – to join them. The wings spread and flapped nervously then stayed, open wide, and in a second the wind took them and the chick became a fledgling like the other one. The three of them soared together. The sky filled with the sound of Herring Gulls screeching whatever they screech as the family was together in the air, learning to fly. And they were gone.
Too often, when seeking God, we make it all too serious and complicated. Sometimes God wants us to watch and learn from things like the birds. He wants us to learn to fly, just in the same way that the two Herring Gulls did in front of me this morning. We need to learn how to trust in God and His Holy Spirit. Like the diligent parent of the fledglings, the Father watches over us. Like the wind beneath our wings, the Holy Spirit teaches us to soar.