At the computer by the window, movement outside catches my eye. It’s the daily descent of flocks of chickadees and juncos to our front yard. They come each midmorning at this time of year (must be more observant and note the time frame). One stellar jay joins them, stabbing and flicking aside flakes of lichen from the aging plum tree to find hidden joint-foots. The smaller birds work over the plum branches, the mossy lawn, and bark mulch under the shrubs. When I look again they are all gone.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.
Sometimes it’s enough to be watched. Don’t need overtly divine assistance most of the time, nor do I hold to the “God is in control” mantra that some folks so confidently recite. That comes from doctrine, but just ain’t so (come on, you know that, don’t you, by using your God-given sense?). Scriptures said to support that idea just don’t, even at a stretch–not to me.
I just want a little attention and awareness, maybe also a sense of protection, available help as I muddle around. Maybe that’s not enough dependency, as I’ve been told I can do nothing without him. I agree, but not in the sense that making decent choices and creating worthy somethings is beyond my God-given abilities and strength. God gives us our very breath, each breath, and every pulse and wave of energy flowing down and along and through us is from him–I know that. But on we go in life, and are not always crying out for help and wanting him to come quickly.
Don’t you sometimes just want God to be somewhere near, and watching? A bit like my husband and I were at our daughter’s district swim meet the other day. Not like someone who’s just curious, gathering data. Not like a talent scout, judging, selecting, discarding. But very attached to the one being watched, delighted, hoping, empathizing, but also knowing it’s not the end of the world if she disqualifies or messes up. Like a parent at a meet? No, not quite that either.
In a way I feel God is like a naturalist, like a birdwatcher. Quiet, attentive, taking a closer look with binoculars, absorbing details and recording them in a sketchbook, smiling to himself. Even on the trail in the off season, when there might be nothing but nests and droppings. When spring comes, the naturalist listens, waits, quietly stalks, delights. In a sense he’s seen it before, but yet every expedition, every individual bird, is a new creation. What is it eating this spring? Is it going back to its old nest? Are there enemies?
If times are tough, birders might put out seed and watch secretly from the porch. Some are particularly delighted to see winged creatures weeding on garden plantings and wildflowers purposely allowed to go to seed in the yard.
It’s an analogy that only goes so far, because when God watches us, he sees someone so much like him, children of his creative hand, delights more, grieves more, gets angry, longs for us, and does get involved. And we are more confused about how to live than the birds, out of touch with our nature, so to speak.
Jesus said, “What is the price of two sparrows–one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Even, I’m sure, than a flock of chickadees, that most exquisite of birds.