Unnested

I grew up outside of city limits, and then in the country, and one thing we always had was trees.  And with trees, birds.  And with birds, baby birds that had fallen out of the nest.

I grew up in the generation that was told baby birds couldn’t be put back in their nest, because their mama wouldn’t feed them.  So we would always be locked between two unpleasant options: taking the baby bird into our garage to spend the night and die in the morning, or leave it outside in hopes the baby bird would somehow make it back into its nest.   Either way, the baby bird always ended up dead.

The first time we found a baby bird and put it in our garage, I was very optimistic. I was sure we could feed it and love on it and that would be enough.  One day, we could release it back into the wild.  But when I woke up the next morning to excitedly greet my baby bird, my parents told me it had died in the night.

I didn’t understand.  Hadn’t we given it a warm habitat?  Wasn’t our water and food good enough for it?  Why had it died?

I was disillusioned enough that one day, when I found a baby bird out on an autumn day, and my mom said we couldn’t do anything to help it, I left it alone in the hopes it would get back into its next, feet and feet above it—which might as well have been miles and miles–somehow.  I came back outside later and found it dead on the cold earth.

It seems to me like what Romans tells us is we’re all like these baby birds.  We’ve all fallen out of the nest.  We’re all in despair, utterly helpless, doomed to die.

People all around the world are trying to invent cures for the human condition.  Whether through medication or psychology or entertainment or “good works” or career opportunities or romance or social networking or starting a family or anything else, we’re failing miserably.  It’s like we’re placing human souls in our own garage of philosophy, using what we reckon will surely help them, but they are as spiritually starved and abandoned under our care as they were before.

Other people have given up on trying to fix other people.  They walk past people who are in the last stages of spiritual death.   They see them floundering, maybe even pleading for help, but they rationalize these people just can’t be helped if they won’t get themselves to the help they need.

Now this is how the world treats people who are unnested, but what about Christians?  How do we treat people who are unnested?  Surely differently, right?  After all, the key to our Christianity is that we are now nested and we see the whole world unnested.  We hurt for those people.  So what do we do to help?

Sadly, sometimes we’re not much more help than the world.  We, having grown up in the world, believe their false tales about how to nest people back to where they belong, and we try to use their methods.

Sometimes we pick up nonChristians, if you will, and try to fix them ourselves.  We try to love on them enough, care for them enough, that they will be fed and well.  But, it just doesn’t work that way.  No matter how hard we try, we wind up with lost people who were hungrier and closer to death than before.

Sometimes we try “tough love” on nonChristians.  We advise them how they can fix their lives to be right with God.  If they would only quit this, do this, try this, they’d find themselves back up in that nest in no time.  But this is no more good than asking a baby bird with no feathers on its wings to fly back up to its nest.

Sometimes we feel justified in leaving lost people alone because, it seems so far as we can tell, God has abandoned them.  After all, why are they on the ground in the first place?  Maybe they got kicked out of the nest.  Maybe even if we could put them back, God wouldn’t take care of them anyway.

. . About the time I was twelve or thirteen, the idea about unnested baby birds was changing.  There was a new, radical idea experts were offering: put the baby bird back in the nest.  The mother might take care of the bird again, and it was the best chance the little bird had.

I remember the first time I knew of my family placing a baby bird back in the nest.  My grandfather climbed up a ladder and put the bird back in the nest.  To my wonder and joy, the mother accepted the baby bird back and began to care for him again.

The one thing, the only thing, I can do as a Christian that will actually help my lost friends, is bring them back to the nest of God.  I can’t climb a ladder, though, and tuck them back into Heaven.  Then again, I didn’t become saved by a Christian carrying back to God.

No Christian picked me up off the ground and put me back into God’s nest.  There’s no way.  Just like I was struggling for survival because I was a little bird, all of us, Christians and nonChristians, are little birds, too.  One little bird can’t carry another little bird to a tree.

What did happen for me is that I found out through the Word of God and Christians in my life that God is not a helpless parent bird, or a parent bird who would reject us even if we did somehow make it back into His nest.  God is actually eager, eager, to receive us back into His kingdom.  But we can’t get there by letting someone carry us away and put us in a cardboard box in a garage.  And we can’t get there by trying to will ourselves to fly back up to Heaven.  What we have to do, and all we have to do, is tweet Him.

True.

God tells us, from Genesis to Revelation–irrevocably, irrefutably recorded in His Word–that when we call on Him, repenting that we fell out of the nest, and ready to live in His Kingdom according to His Authority, He will cup His hands over us and carry us back to His nest.

We tweet, “Lord, help!”

And He is there.  Faster than the fastest internet connection, He is there.

God promises us three times:

And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved (Joel 2:32a, NIV)

“‘And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Peter, quoting Joel, Acts 2:21, NIV)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Paul, quoting Joel, from Romans 10:13, NIV)

We can’t get back in the nest on our own or by anybody else rescuing us.  We can only get back in the nest by the rescue of God.  This is the message of salvation.  Not Christians saving nonChristians, but Christians testifying that anyone who sincerely tweets God will be placed back in His nest.

Have you tweeted God?  There is nothing mysterious to the tweeting.  The mystery is that God wants to place us back in His nest.

But He does.

And that’s why my Twitter account is with God.

All those who the Father gives me will come to me. Him who comes to me I will in no way throw out. (Jesus, quoted in John 6:37, WEB)

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (Jesus, quoted in John 10:28, ESV)

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First photograph, baby bird out of nest, by Ben Husmann, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/benhusmann/

Second photograph, baby birds in nest, by Kyle MacKenzie, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/kylemackenzie/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

State of Depression

I used to live in the state of Depression.  I didn’t want to move from there because, after all, that was where I lived.  It was home.  It was most familiar.   Self-help did not work because I just grew more interested in depression the more I studied it and more sympathetic to myself.  If anything, self-help meant I helped myself build a bigger house in the state of Depression.

(State boundaries are fiercely fought over and subject to change.)

Even when I really wanted to move, I didn’t know where to go.  I’d always end up driving to some place worse.  Don’t ever drive to the eastern border of Depression, because you end up right in Anger and you have to pay a big toll to boot.

And don’t ever go west, because you’ll run right into the state of Self-Indulgence and probably live in the city of Debt.

And don’t go north, whatever you do, because there’s a fork in the road and you’ll either wind up in Confusion or Hypocrisy.

But whatever you do, whatever you do, don’t drive south or you’ll be sure to hit the terrible traffic in the state of Panic and you’ll never find your way back out.

What I needed was a plane ride right out of the state of Depression, right out of the country of Misery, as a matter of fact.

And that is just what I got through Jesus Christ.

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” –Jesus

Matthew 11:28, CEB

The Maze of My Life, Part 5: The Panic

The first part of the maze was a black tunnel.  I don’t like black tunnels, and I was starting to get skitterish.  On the TV’s I’d seen, everything looked a whole lot lighter–of course.  The screens were using “night vision”.

I was still feeling uneasy until an animatronic hand reached out right in front of me.

Goodbye, uneasy.  Hello, panic.

I’d had anxiety for years, but in college I started having panic attacks. When Dad was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, my panic attacks ratcheted up and I was totally afraid of my world spinning out of control.

A panic attack is basically the idea that you have no control over what is going to happen, and that something is happening you would want control over.  The degree of the attack depends on how badly you don’t want the thing to happen that is happening.  A panic attack over turning an assignment in late in college, for example, was easier for me to handle than a panic attack because my father had died.

Panic attacks became like a best friend I never wanted.  They hung around all the time, threatening to lash out at any time.  I would have almost no control over them.   They could happen on bright sunny days or lonely black nights.  And they were bad, bad, bad.

A panic attack really is a lot like having an animatronic hand reaching for you.  Like a robot, the panic attack was totally unfeeling.  There would be no pleading for mercy.  And like a hand reaching out in a black and scary place, I never knew where the panic attack was going to drag me.

God changed my life when He intervened like the hand of a Father, pulling me out of a dark and scary place.  The panic attacks vanished with His Presence.  In the few years since my commitment to Christ, I have had one panic attack, and it was well-founded.  I had read a book about Hell that nearly unwound me.  Thinking about my friends . . . thinking about anyone going there . . . nearly undid me.  What I had to come to was the realization that God is every bit as loving as I believe He is, and that I don’t know the full story about Hell.

If I was going to have a panic attack, I would want it to be something about people’s souls.  No more panic attacks worrying about myself.  I’ve had some stressful times since my salvation.  I’ve had bad news, trouble, and heartache.  But I haven’t had a panic attack, except that one.  I just, I don’t have to fear an animatronic hand reaching for me anymore, because I know my Father’s hand is stronger and has a tighter grip on me.  So when I’m afraid, when I’m anxious, when I’m frustrated . . . I know He is there.  In fact, I feel God’s Presence the most often when I am in a valley.

Reach down from heaven and rescue me; rescue me from deep waters, from the power of my enemies. (Psalm 144:7, NLT)

Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper! Save me from those who hate me, and pull me from these deep waters. (Psalm 69:14, NLT)

You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength. (Psalm 31:4, NASB)

He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. (Psalm 18:16, NLT)
Even though I walk into the middle of trouble, you guard my life against the anger of my enemies. You stretch out your hand, and your right hand saves me. (Psalm 138:7, GWT)

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Published in: on October 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Prayer for Life

I prayer I wrote down not long before I committed my life to Christ:

Dear Jesus,

Don’t let panic be my life.

Let my life be You.

Published in: on October 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Alone

I am so struck by the Truth that I am not alone.

It is not whatsoever frightening, because I know who I am with, and I know He loves me.

I want you to understand, it is not that I deserve this privilege.   I don’t.  And from human rationality, it can’t make sense to me why it’s true.  I don’t deserve to be in the presence of love.  I know this.  And yet I am not alone.  And I am loved.

What is the one thing that I wish the world could hear?  What is the one thing I would say, if I could say just one thing and nothing more?

It would be John 3:16.  Not because it is a well-quoted verse or because it sounds good in Sunday School, but . because . it . is . real.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

I love the Lord.

I love Him so much.

But it wasn’t my idea.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

It was His.

And I am not alone.

I am not alone.

And I am in good company.  I am in the best of company.  I am a friend of God.

How do you say, “I am a friend of God”?  How can my tiny little human mind process such a statement?  I am a friend of God?  Me?  With my flaws, my failures, my ruin?  I am a friend of God?

Yes I am a friend of God.

But how?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

But why?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

Jesus Christ did this for me?  For love?

What is love, then?  Can I even say I understand it?  Love is to take a sinner and make a saint?  How is it possible that God can be inclined to feel pity for a sinner?  How is it that the pity God feels can be so great it leads Him to die?  How is it that when I feel sorry for someone, I am at most merely inclined to help, but when God feels pity, He gives up His throne and suffers all the horrors of the world and dies?

Why would He care that I am alone?

How could He care that I am alone?  He is infinite in being, free from space or time, and yet He concerns Himself with me, a person who lives on a globe that is not even a speck in the galaxy[1], a galaxy that is one of what we think are billions?

Or is it that I have it all wrong?  Is it that this little not-even-a-speck-in-the-galaxy is the reason the stars surround us?  Is God showing us how vast and incomprehensible His love like a master artist, leading us from painting to painting, each telling us a little more of His love for us?

How?  How can this be?  That the stars were created around us and not us from the stars?  That we alone in all the universe are made in the image of God, that He should lavish such love upon us?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

Not perish.

Not perish.

Not perish.

That whoever believes in Him should not perish.

No clauses.

No amendments.

No disclaimers.

Whoever.

That means me, too.

It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that such a thing so good to be possible for so bad a race as the human race, for so bad a person as me.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, ESV)

There wasn’t any hope.

But then there was.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NASB)

Are you alone?

If you are, why?

There is a Savior.  A Savior who is exactly who we need.  A Savior who gives us His Word He will love us eternally if we live in Him.

This Savior, He is a friend.  He is a friend as I have never had one.  He is a friend as you have never had.

There is nothing in this world, in this universe, in Heaven, or anywhere at all that can compel me to love as I love my Savior, His Father, His Spirit.

I pray you will love Him, too.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1 John 3:16, NIV)

[1] “How Many Galaxies Are In The Universe?” by Fraser Cain, May 4, 2009, http://www.universetoday.com/30305/how-many-galaxies-in-the-universe/

Photograph by David Woo, profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mckln/

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.