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Sparrows and Lilies

I have an app that shows me every day what I was doing last year, 2 years ago, 5 years ago, etc. It’s like a time capsule that helps me to recall seasons in my kids’ lives, and reminds me of where we’ve walked. I love opening the app in the mornings and walking down memory lane. Recently, it’s been reminding me of where we were a year ago though. Reminders of our first, from-home church service, notifications from work about new policies, the shutting down of schools and finding ourselves home for a long time. I remember a lot of fear. A lot of overwhelm. A lot of uncertainty. And these reminders don’t feel like quaint walks down memory lane, but of resurfacing the traumas we faced last year.

Last Spring, we were facing a significant amount of loss at work on top of all of the changes in healthcare in general. It was an overwhelming season that felt an awful lot like drowning in a sea of never-ending emails while being pushed under the surface with each patient we lost. It was devastating. After a particularly challenging shift, the Lord pointed me to this Scripture:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

“Look to the birds,” my Savior said to me. Luke describes how Jesus said that sparrows neither reap nor sow, and still God provides for them. That morning, in the midst of my grief, I trusted my Savior’s heart for me. He saw my pain. He intimately knows me. He knew the burdens I was taking on myself that He wanted to carry for me. He knew the deep sense of fear in which I was drowning.

You wouldn’t believe what happened that afternoon.

A precious bird flew into our window and broke its neck. I walked outside to see what made the noise, and watched him take his last breaths. “...not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father,” my Lord whispered in my ear as I wept over this bird’s life, and my Savior seeing me. God used this precious bird as a reminder to me that He sees me. He saw my pain. He watched this bird fall. It was an overwhelming moment of gratitude mingled with guilt. “Had this bird lost his life so I could feel Your nearness to me today?” I whispered back to God. I picked this bird up as gently as I could, shed tears over his life, and took our oldest kids to the backyard with me to bury him under our pine trees. I shared with them what God showed me in His word that morning, and the privilege we have to honor His precious creation by thanking Him for his life, and honoring him in his death by burying him.

So many things changed last year, but one thing never did: my Savior’s faithful and present love. I felt it at every turn. Every grief at work. (“I am here”). Every fatigue over decisions. (“I am here”). Every change in schooling. (“I am here”). Every tear wept for our church. (“I am here”). Every separation from our family. (“I am here”). Every overwhelming work email. (“I am here”). Every headline. (“I am here”).

Fast forward to the present. We read this passage in our reading of Luke last week. As I read these familiar words, and remembered that bird, I thought, “my heart longs to sing these words.” The next morning, God gave me lyrics, and Peter and I were able to write this song:

Fearful, anxious heart of mine

Have you looked to the sky?

The sparrows neither reap nor sow

And still their God provides

Are you not precious as they?

You are more precious than they

Fearful, anxious heart of mine

Look how the fields grow

The lilies neither spin nor toil

And still their Father clothes

Are you not precious as they?

You are more precious than they

Life is more than food

The body more than clothes

Fill the deeper void

The shame You only know

Fearful, anxious heart of mine

You have your Father’s eyes

Fearful, anxious heart of mine

Go and live your life

2020 was a breaking. 2021 is a mending. 2021 is mending the wounds inflicted or exposed in 2020 (and there were many). For me personally, this song is a manifestation of that mending. I felt like I was taken to pieces last year. So many things I depended on and believed to be constants failed me last year. (And I discovered they were never made for me to depend on anyway.) The breaking I felt was for my blessing. The breaking was for my re-building. A rebuilding into a person who looks more and more like Jesus. A person who is willing to cry out to God in desperate need of help because I no longer believe the lie of my own self-sufficiency. A person who no longer desires to take on emotional burdens that I was never meant to carry, yet honoring the powerfully empathetic nature the Lord gave me as a gift to be used by the Spirit as I intercede on behalf of others. A person who sees the bird and is reminded of my Savior’s tender care. I can face today—even if today feels impossible—because He cares for the sparrows and the lilies. So he will care for me. Why do I fear? I fear because I don’t trust my Father’s heart for me.

Thank you, Lord, for the sparrows and the lilies. I have my Father’s eyes. Go and live your life.

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