I tend to frequent my garden patio in the early morning. I appreciate the quiet of my rural, small town setting, and I love to hear the birds wake up and start singing. My husband and I are true bird-admirers. Not real bird-watchers, mind you; the true Audubons are the ones that can confidently identify, say, a loggerhead shrike from a Northern shrike…and enjoy it. But like my more learned comrades, I have fun actually seeing the birds I am hearing, and I’m learning them little by little,(with my color picture book close by), to recognize a few species, including by the music they make. I have also learned that, generally speaking, to attract birds you must have a bird-attracting environment. They are all around me, because I can hear them, even if I can’t immediately see them. But to seriously bring them into view I must entice them with something they want.
Many of my patio variety songsters are not particularly picky eaters, thankfully. A fifty-pound bag from the local feed store does nicely, especially for sparrows and junkos and an occasional cowbird or catbird. However, I have learned that certain species are encouraged to frequent my garden depending on what I choose to put out. Cardinals like their black-oil sunflower seeds. Finches love the seeds on my dry coneflowers. Hummingbirds go for red. Downey woodpeckers prefer the suet in the hanging cage. And grackles, well, I guess they eat anything, and a whole lot of it!
What I also find noteworthy is how these fabulous creatures find their way to the food. It is such a natural, unfeigned, unpretentious process. The more I set out, the more they come around. And even if I don’t get around to filling the feeders, and maybe there are only a few kernels just left lying around a pile of empty hulls, they still seem attracted to it, pushing through the junk to find the valuable seeds. But the converse is also true. No food, few birds. For them to stay around in abundance, and close enough for thorough enjoyment and study, they must be welcomed and wanted, and they must be drawn.
With all respect, the Holy Spirit is a bit, just a bit mind you, the same way. As we provide the proper enticements (like faith), and make Him feel welcome (like humility), He comes more into view, becomes easier to see, and His ways are easier to identify. And why? Because what God is interested in most is the environment of my heart:
- He looks deep within my human soul, the real me, the sometimes (oft times) hidden me, and invites me to come and take a good look with Him, since most of us are not even fully aware of what’s really going on in there anyway. And though He sees the “me” in my entire self, and though He recognizes so much beauty that could be, yet He patiently waits and constrains Himself, for even God must be invited, welcomed and wanted. One of the Old Testament songwriters put it this way, “I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word…” (1)
- Although God is everywhere at once, yet He makes it clear that we get His attention by a humble heart, and a prayer of faith, even if it’s just a little faith mixed with a whole bunch of questions. It’s an easy and common deception to think that we are too far gone, too messed up, or have too little faith for God work His wonderful restorative power in our lives. However, a little faith is still faith, a powerful entity in God’s kingdom, even if it’s mixed with a bunch of empty husks known as doubt and the used up hulls we call fear. God is just powerful enough to dig through our questions and circumstances to find the little seeds of faith in our prayers and our lives, even when we ourselves aren’t aware of their existence. (2)
- The proud heart, on the other hand, the one that says it does not need God, that refuses to agree with God’s assessment of the situation and His answer to the problem, (possibly because it refuses to acknowledge that there IS a problem), this heart the Holy Spirit grieves over, since there is nothing to bid Him welcome, nothing to make Him feel wanted. (3)
My early morning “patio compadres” make my garden more than just a quiet place to sip my tea while the rest of the town wakes up. Not only do I love having them around for their beauty and song, but they are part of the very livelihood of my garden! So does God’s Holy Spirit infuse His life into the garden of my life. Every day is another opportunity to invite Him into my world, my mind, and circumstances, and my heart.
Then I can sit back, and listen for His song.
- Psalm 119:58
- See Mark 9:24
- See Psalm 51:17, James 4:6
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.