We had a sad thing happen at the Barnes house last week. Call it “A tale of two nests.” I shared the story at Project Searchlight as I welcomed the returning racers.
We’ve always had these birds that have built their nests in parts of our garage and porch. Before we cleaned out the garage, one of their favorite places was amidst the paint cans on the shelf.
But with that option gone, they had to be more creative. A starling built her nest in the eaves of the porch. She laid her eggs. Within a week or so, they hatched. They were out of range of Louie the cat and other enemies and grew until one day, they all launched out into the sky.
A second mother bird chose a more precarious spot on the porch. We had hung our Christmas wreath on the front door and never taken it down. This crazy wren decided it would be a good place to build a nest.
Every time we’d go in or out of the house, we’d see if the five eggs Mrs. Wren had laid had hatched or not. Then last week, they did. The wee little birds immediately began chirping and holding their mouths open for food.
But every time someone would go out the door, Mrs. Wren would dart off, scaring them probably as bad as she herself had been scared.
It was no way to raise your children. And though we tried to tell everyone not to go out the front door, still some would.
A few days ago I returned home and the little birds were not in their nest. I looked around and couldn’t see them. Then, horror of horrors, I looked beneath the nest and there they were. Two dead, but three still alive and moving.
I had been talking on the phone and quickly said, “I gotta call you back.” What had happened that they had fallen out of the nest? And what should I do?
I decided to put them back in the nest, hoping that Mrs. Wren would return. Once more in the nest, they looked OK – their beaks were still open awaiting food.
Then it occurred to me what had happened. Realizing too late that she’d built her nest in the wrong place, the mother had kicked her babies out of the nest – a form of terrible avian infanticide.
My family has a text string that provides a commentary to our lives. I texted everyone. “How do I keep these baby birds alive?”
The first idea was that I should go dig up some worms. But the best I was able to come up with were some slugs from under a rock and a beetle.
My girls were insistent, “You’ve got to do something! Call the animal rescue people!” Then someone figured out that moist dog food would work.
So I’ve spent the last three days hand-feeding these baby birds, trying to keep them alive. It’s been heart-breaking. Yesterday one died. And then this morning, another was gone. And I can’t get the last one to eat anymore. So sad.
In sharing this story with the returning racers at Searchlight, I said “A lot of mothers in America are like Mrs. Wren. They want the best for their children. They want a safe place, but for all that, things are falling apart for them these days.”
I’m talking about Orlando and San Bernardino. Isis is targeting us.
Or think about Colorado Springs where last month five high school students from one school committed suicide just before school let out for the summer.
Think about our college campuses where a toxic politically correct culture routinely kills faith in our young people.
The world is changing under our feet and we need to wake up to reality and assess what is really important to us and the price we’re prepared to pay.
We live in a culture that worships safety and makes children an idol. Consider the possibility that we have been doing the same thing as Mrs. Wren – building our nests in a door. The safety we seek is a mirage, an illusion.
Paul tells his disciple Timothy, “Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it.” (2 Tim. 3:12) Maybe instead of trying to protect our children from the world, we should be more concerned with teaching them how to be in the world but not of it.
Maybe it’s time to step back and recognize that while our children were made to fly, many of them are suffering from “failure to thrive” syndrome. We parents think we’re giving them the best future money can buy when in fact, the nest we’ve built for them is anything but safe.
Jesus made it clear, following him is costly. But he also promised us that it was a path that leads to abundant life. We see that at Adventures. Our ministry focuses on leading people on a journey that at times feels dangerous. But by going on that journey with them, we teach people how to fly.
If it’s dangerous, we recognize that Jesus didn’t promise us safety. In fact, he promised us hardship. But he also promised us the Kingdom.
I love what we do. I love helping people learn to fly.
What else are we going to do with our lives? What else is worthy of our commitment?
Some of us are still trying to have our cake and eat it too. I’m sensing Jesus telling us that that will not be possible. The world is becoming more black and white. The choice is getting clearer. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.” (1 Cor. 10:21)
We need to choose what we will commit to and go all in.