He gives me this today: greedy goldfinches stuffing their diminutive
torsos into the feeder, cheerful chickadees snatching one seed at a time, a hummingbird sitting, drinking long. Other gifts from Him settle in—renewed focus and Spirit’s strength wiped over my soul.
Watching them, I am reminded of both the pleasure and peril of ease. Crafted by the hand of God, the birds’ natural abilities to gather food involve work—soaring journeys over fields and forests, flitting visits to berries, insect-swarmed swamps and nectar-filled flora. This is their design, to work for that which sustains them. This keeps them strong and nourished. It keeps them able to adapt to feast and famine, drought and drench.
I know that it is better to have to work for my own nourishment– food for my spirit, for that which sustains me. Because of the seeking, and finding, God has and will
provide strength and skill to nourish me in abundance and absence.
I wonder…like me who makes it easy for the birds because of the joy found in observing, does God sometimes take joy in making it easy for us? In abundant opportunity, church retreats, published commentary, sermon lessons, does He, at times, the right times, remove a layer of exertion so that He may revel in our pleasure as He watches us gather and gorge? And when the time is right again, does He remove the spiritual feeders for our own good?
What does WORKING for the fruit of our spiritual blessings accomplish for us? Not the blessing itself, which can only come from God, but the flexing of spirit limb and muscle. Does the food become sweeter? Does it flourish more in our spirit
because it is more deeply rooted or held onto with greater tenacity as we
recognize its value because of the effort expended to attain it?
If I feed only on what’s easy, then when it becomes difficult, or inconvenient, I do not have the skills or strength of heart to continue on. I become weak, vulnerable prey for Satan and his army. As well, scattered food from passive reception—rich nuggets cast aside and lost–attracts the Enemy. As when bears claw at homehung feeders, or squirrels leap onto the feeding stations and gorge themselves on seed intended for gentler creatures, that which sustains is snatched away and lost.
God, through Paul, says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
to perform, accomplish, achieve .
To fashion one fit for a thing.
We are not alone in this most holy of tasks, this labor. For God is at work in us
(v. 13) and the “thing” for which we are being fashioned is His good pleasure,
which becomes a shared joy, us and Him. What a thing it is, indeed!
Can you imagine the community of joy when we, His workmanship, arise from the dust of labor in exactly the way He intended?
To the world, or even ourselves, we may appear dented and bruised, nary a plumb line of perfection scored over us, remnants of hulls still clinging to our souls. But to HIM, He who designed the work and the worker, to HIM, we are exactly as He intended! What joy and contentment there is in the Worker and the work when the job is complete and we come out exactly as He designed, not as the world would have us, but as our Creator chose, through His work, for purposes beyond what the world can see or appreciate.
Today I learned to appreciate both the gift of passive blessings and the purpose
behind katergazomai, both to His glory.
For the clarity and calm, for the visitors outside my window, I continue in
Always blessing, He is.