I could see him through the glass in my backdoor because I have a clear view from my recliner. Bandit, my light brown Chihuahua and Terrier mix, was ready to come in.
It was 9 pm Super Bowl Sunday evening, and I was watching the game. Wishing for a doggy door didn’t make one appear, so I heaved myself out of my chair and took my first step toward the door. That’s when Bandit turned and took off like a torpedo across the porch. Uh oh…
I was out the door and on my back porch in three strides, wondering what my dog was chasing this time. Bandit was now standing in my backyard with something in his mouth. I thought it was a small rabbit, and I yelled, “Drop!”
Bandit complied, and at his feet lay a bird. She was brown with a white belly. I met my dog in the yard and swooped him up in my arms. By this time Bandit was trying to spit feathers out of his mouth. I was not sympathetic.
I looked down at the bird, and her glassy, fixed stare told me she was dead. I didn’t see any blood, but the feathers on her back were really ruffled. Maybe she’d had a heart attack.
As I turned to carry Bandit inside, I looked up at the ceiling fan on my porch and saw a young brown bird sitting on a fan blade watching us. This is where I often see a bird family hanging out.
“I can’t believe you killed that bird’s mother! What are you going to do now, Bandit? Are you going to take care of him?” I remembered an episode of Andy Griffith in which Opie, after he killed a mama bird with his slingshot, took care of the baby birds.
Once inside I knew what I needed to do. That young bird would have to fend for himself, but I knew I must bury the dead bird before I let Bandit out again.
For ten minutes I kept going to the window to look at the bird. Poor thing. I then decided I’d better not wait until after the game ended to bury her. Digging in Georgia clay is not easy. I know this because I’ve buried two pet parakeets in my backyard, Skittles and Stormy, after they died of natural causes.
Down-hearted I trudged into my garage and grabbed a shovel. I stood there and said, “Lord, this makes me sad. I hate that Bandit killed that bird.” I then remembered a Bible verse about sparrows.
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them
falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
Matthew 10:29 (NKJV)
I’d recited this verse over the graves of Skittles and Stormy.
I took a deep breath and walked back through the house and into the backyard, where I came to a stop about a foot away from the dead bird. I observed her size. She would require a bigger hole than the ones needed for the parakeets. As I stared at her, trying to psyche myself up for the task at hand, I saw her head move. She was looking around.
“You’re not dead!” I exclaimed. I began to wonder if she had a broken wing. Why else would she sit motionless for so long? What were my options for her care?
As I pondered my next step, I set the digging end of the shovel on the ground rather abruptly. When I did so, the bird shot into the air and flew out of my yard.
I felt joy and relief surge through my body. Clearly this bird was going to be just fine. I couldn’t wait to tell Bandit the good news.
Once I was back in my recliner, I considered the bird’s reaction to her terrifying attack. After a skirmish with a 23-pound dog on the porch, where she left a pile of feathers behind, this dog picked her up in his mouth, leaped off the porch, then dropped her on the grass. Why didn’t she fly away as soon as he released her?
No doubt this bird was shell-shocked. Frozen with fear. Maybe it registered with her that I’d contained her attacker.
Her response reminds me of what Moses told the Israelites to do when they were being pursued by the Egyptian army and were approaching the Red Sea.
The Lord will fight for you,
You need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
While the Israelites were being still, “the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land” (21).
That bird was definitely being still. Many painful life events can render us initially too stunned to move. What a comfort to know God is with us, fighting for us. Fortunately, He doesn’t leave us in our frozen, glassy-eyed state.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
Psalm 138:7 (NKJV)
God used the sound of a shovel hitting the ground to revive that bird. He used my right hand picking up my dog to save her from a fierce enemy.
God has used caring friends and family members to “rescue” me when I’ve experienced paralyzing emotional pain and spirit-crushing disappointments, fierce enemies indeed. Their comfort, which came in the form of love, encouragement, and prayers, kept me moving forward in the strength of my Lord.
That’s one thing we can all do for one another, regardless of our past experiences with pain. We can comfort one another. Paul shares the cycle of comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV):
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Maybe God has used you to comfort a shell-shocked friend or family member. If you’ve been the recipient of such care, you know the powerful and lasting impact. Such love promotes healing and encourages the broken to take off and fly again.