Copyright 2016 Theresa Harvard Johnson
Learning from Bird’s Blog | Image is Public Domain
There are all kinds of people, congregational communities and obscure groups in scripture. The scripture also speaks about all kinds of birds. I believe birds represent some aspect or form of the people of God today, and truly we can gain untold wisdom by observing them. Sometimes, the best lessons in life can be shared through analogies and metaphorical teachings... with Holy Spirit leading. I pray that the insight here is a blessing to you.
Job 35:11 , “Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?”
The familiar pigeons that populate our city streets and marketplaces enjoying the company of passersby and other scavengers migrated to North America from Europe, Asia and Africa sometime in the 1600s. They are known as gentle, wise, monogamous, wary and clever birds. Many men have studied them throughout history and been amazed by what they have learned. Among their most unique and astounding traits is that some breeds have a unique, extraordinary ability and contribution to the world: They are the most excellent navigators on earth. They are able to find their way back to any point of origin over hundreds of miles with sheer ease. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but among living and breathing creations – they can do this over distances that would cause most people and animals to be extremely disoriented and confused.
They do it effortlessly. It is there innate, God-given design. Oh if we, as people of God, could learn from them!
Early in human history, people learned that they could be trained for specific tasks involving their unique ability at massive levels, and it completely readjusted the scope of their destiny, purpose. These birds are known as Rock Pigeons or Rock Doves (consider the doves of the bible). I find it eye-opening that Christ’s first encounter with Holy Spirit in a visible and tangible form in the earth was that of a dove.
In their indigenous habitat, the Rock Pigeon lived on the sides of high-sloping mountains and dangerous cliffs near flowing bodies of water. Their choice of living arrangements were geared toward warding off predators. They understood the value of high-places and living on the edge.
They raised their families there.
They were known for launching from the edge of high cliffs and deliberately diving and then flying in a swimming motion through the air, earning them another designation – bird swimmers and divers. But their water of choice was the freedom of the wind. Their domestication, though helpful and needful for humankind, completely distorted their nature.
The change was so dramatic that it gave way to a completely NEW breed of bird – one that is regarded often today as feral and worthless, a nuisance to society. They became so domesticated – that they lost their uniqueness, brilliance and cliff-hanging majesty. This doesn’t mean that the treasure is not still in them. It simply means that the treasure is dormant... because the birds chose to accept what is now common, ordinary.
Even with this great homing ability deep within them – they withdrew their affinity for living on the edges of cliffs and mountains near fresh waters. They spend more time in the low-places, scavenging with pizza rats in train stations, parks and walking routes rather than showing off their diver’s gift of freedom in the air. They would rather return to concrete jungles than travel untold distance to their beginnings. Their populations – in this state of existence – exceed 28 million worldwide. They have become so common that we barely recognize their once royal, eclectic status... and profound life on the edge.
Today, very few people consider their fierce beginnings and rich heritage. We’re more likely to scat-them-away or throw a rock to clear them from our paths as we walk down busy streets than we are to consider their greatness. The cities and communities where they’ve taken up habitation, now has ordinances in place that prohibit over-population or that authorize strategies for their exit. They are often regarded as disease carrying birds that offer no real contributions to society.
For those of us with eyes to see, we can still recognize some resemblance to their former, royal selves. Can you see the congregation today in this? A mere reflection of its true self? We can see the spark of the cliff-dweller and the grace of the diver. We can see the depth of sight as they identify people holding bread in bags and following them down the city streets.
And our hearts cry and hope for their awakening. The congregation today has much in common with the Rock Pigeon. It’s domestication in Babylon is fierce – so fierce that it has completely clouded its innate Kingdom identity and reduced it to what is common. What a force it would be for 28 million Rock Pigeons to remember its purpose and live out its potential.
Yes, we love eagles… but not everyone has an eagle calling. YET, every single bird has its place... a beautiful place in God. How can we lose the unhealthy domestication, and begin to walk in our true identity again? Let's make this response personal to our own lives as we consider its answer.
Isaiah 1:3 , "Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master's manger, But Israel does not know, My people do not understand."
Jeremiah 8:7 , "Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD.”
Matthew 23:15 , "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
My mentor, Dr. Kluane Spake, has taught me a lot about the birds. YES, birds. In one of her courses and books, Apostolic Authority, she lays down a powerful premise surrounding why we should observe them and then proceeds to teach from a bird's view. Sometimes, I sit and reflect on lines from her writings in the same way as I do scripture. It brings me into deep places of Holy Spirit reflection, guidance and alignment. What I learn is not only revelatory, but practical to my own life. And then, on rainy days like these, God speaks through my pen – opening up things that I have drawn from my reading, meditation and study. From time to time, I plan to post about BIRDS -- the lessons we can learn from them individually and as a people.
- Last Updated: 05 December 2016
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