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.

Keeping in touch

We have more ways to keep in touch than ever . . .

texting (I was late on that bandwagon) . . . emails (I still remember Orion) . . . and what is now called “snail mail” (the ponies of the express would be indignant, I bet).  There’s facebooking.  (I have 534 friends.  My grandmother, whom I recall introducing to facebook, has 1,042.  But I’m not bitter.)

There’s tweeting (I don’t know how to tweet.  Maybe my grandmother will teach me how someday.)  There’s voice mail.  I even remember the old answering machines, with their screechy sound when you rewound or fast-forwarded through messages.  There’s even talking on the phone . . . at just about every coordinate on earth, it seems.  The effervescent light of the cell phone has become familiar in so many places . . . such as dark movie theaters when you are trying to watch a movie.

I guess people think because they are texting and there’s only this big ol’ blast of green light that hits you in the face, it will be all right for them to pull their cell out every 5 minutes.  I watched an opera once in which the entire first half of the performance, the teenagers in front of me were spotlighting my face as they maybe texted everybody they knew on facebook, probably almost as many people as my grandmother knows.  (Why only the first half?  An usher had a conversation with them.)

Then there’s skyping.  I’ve never skyped.  And webcamming.  (Is that a word?)  I actually have a webcam built into my computer.  I felt very cool when I got it.

I haven’t used it once.

I need to give this computer to my grandmother.  She could start youtubing her webcams to all her facebook friends, and there’s another way of communication.  I’ve never youtubed, but I did watch a video of a snoring puppy on there one time.

Anyway, we have so many ways to communicate, I’m probably forgetting something cool.  And then there’s one way I seem to remember hearing about one time . . . what was that?  Oh, yes, conversation.  That’s old school, though.

You can communicate with just about anyone in an instant.  Nearly everyone (but not my mom) is on facebook.  Most people text nowadays.  I can even text.  I text old school, though.  I found one of those old phones that has a QWERTY keyboard with actual, real, truly buttons you can press.  My mom has one of those new phones that has phony, innauthenic, pixilized buttons you are supposed to touch. I thought my fingers were skinny until I tried texting on her phone.

And her phone has that handy dandy autocorrect so that when you mean to say, “Sweetie, would you like me to pick up anything for dinner?” and because your fingers aren’t the size of a stylus, you accidentally type *a few* wrong letters, it autocorrects to something like,

“Santa, would you like me to pick up antlers for Dancer?  He lost them on the last chimney.”

(It adds extra sentences like that, to make it make more sense like.  Ok, no it doesn’t, but it would be really funny if it did.)

With all this communication going on, wouldn’t you think we’d be the most at-peace society since the time of Eden?  Don’t I remember self-expression being a way to healing and tranquility advertised on TV and self-help books?  We’ve sure got self-expression now.  You can find out that your uncle had chicken pot pie for dinner on facebook.  Didn’t you always want to know what your uncle had for dinner?

. . But . . we’re not at peace.  In fact, we’re a restless society (unless we’re watching TV).  And not only are we restless, we’re well, not very happy overall, I’d say.  I haven’t seen any drop in divorce rates because of cell phones.  I haven’t heard of better friendships thanks to texting.  Now that doesn’t mean these new ways of communication are bad . . .

Oh, yes.  I knew I’d forget at least one, and I did.  But I didn’t think I’d forget one, well, obvious: blogging.

. . . That doesn’t mean these new ways of communication are bad (especially not blogging) . . but it means they simply aren’t working at getting us closer to each other than we were before.  That’s because, when it comes down to it, I love someone because of what they communicate to me, not because they used the newest high-tech device.  I can text “AZOSDIFMA3SFD” and I’m not going to make new friends, unless C3PO and R2D2 have cell phones somewhere.

The message is what matters.  But, sometimes, I lose track of that.  I pick up my Bible, but I really want God to text me or Youtube me instead.  But something I remember about God: He’s not trendy; He’s timeless.  God is from age to age.  God is from before the age of stone tablets to after the age of computers.  God has no limitations on his language.  He can communicate in any way He likes, at any time.  God can communicate as easily on cave walls as He can a typewriter as He can the world wide web.  So why did He choose to give His Words to people living thousands of years ago, to write scrolls?  Why did He choose that one way?

The Bible is clear: the Bible is complete.  There will be no revelations, devotions, sermons, or any other communication that will take place on this earth until the time the Lord returns that will be anything like the Bible.  Nothing–no music, no texts, no conversations, no videos, no calls, and no blogs will ever be on par with what we find in God’s Word.

The Bible is finished because everything we need to know to receive salvation and follow God is already there.

God chose the perfect time, the perfect transcribers, and the perfect technology.  Scrolls were just right.  From those scrolls, every word of the Bible is now available in books across the globe, every word on audio files in many languages for free listening on websites, and every word uploaded on a nearly countless number of sites.  There are even apps for phones to read the entire Bible, CD’s, and even DVD’s in which speakers have read books of the Bible word for word.  Bible verses are tweeted and posted as status updates on facebook, and the Gospel is even carried through YouTube.

God is not silent to us.

The question is, am I so busy checking facebook to see how many people have “liked” my status and browsing email shopping offers and watching videos of cute baby animals that I miss the one Message that matters?

I love my friends, but I don’t want to miss the Son of God.

I listed different ways of communication earlier, but I didn’t list the greatest.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, ESV)

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:9-18, ESV)