Spring is in the air! The trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing. It is a time of renewal, and at our house, spring is signaled by the return of our barn swallows. For the past several years, a couple of barn swallows have made their nest on our front porch. Each year has afforded me opportunities to observe and research the species. Here are a few fun facts: Barn swallows are monogamous, they return to the same nesting place each year, and reuse or repair their old nest. Both the male and female work to build the nest, but the male is the chief protector. Their offspring build nests nearby, and at the end of the summer, the whole extended family can be seen gathering on power lines and limbs to make the journey south, together.
An entire series of articles could be written on the spiritual truths that are evident in the way our Heavenly Father ordered the natural world. Parallels can be drawn concerning the marriage relationship, the dynamics in the home, and interaction with our spiritual family, just to name a few! Physical provision for needs and contentment, no matter the circumstances, can also be seen in the animal world (Matt. 6:26). As the pinnacle of His creation, it is man’s duty to add godliness to that contentment, regardless of our situation (I Tim 6:6). Consider these two simple lessons from barn swallows:
In times of greatest comfort, we can still make a big mess.
I think our birds found a pretty great home. The alcove is spacious and offers protection from weather and predators. The porch
light provides warmth at night and attracts insects for meals. Still, the ground below is in need of a regular scraping. What a mess! Spiritually speaking, how can we make a mess of things even when we’re most comfortable? When I’m feeling at ease among my closest group of friends, is that the time that I’m most likely to gossip? When I’m relaxing on vacation, am I tempted to lower my standards in modesty and activity choice because I won’t see anyone that knows me? When I’m in my own home with my family, do I snap in anger and consistently give them my leftovers because they will love me regardless? This spring, and every day, let’s purpose to live according to God’s standards, even when we’re comfortable.
Home is worth it, even when it gets uncomfortable.
I confess, in previous years, because of said mess, we have attempted to remove the swallows’ nest before they get settled in. Even
without a nest, they come home; choosing to roost on a tiny and seemingly uncomfortable ledge. Perhaps they recognize the benefit of staying in a warm, protected area. Would we, in our spiritual walk, have the same fortitude? In my service to others, am I willing to do whatever is needed, or do I balk when the opportunity takes me to the wrong side of town? When a conflict arises with a sister, do I go to her to work it out (Matt. 18), or do I stick to the other side of the foyer or move to another congregation? It’s human nature to avoid discomfort, but remember that it’s during these times that we have the greatest opportunity for growth. Following the example of Christ on the narrow road to Heaven is always worth it, even when it’s uncomfortable here and now.
Thank you, Father, for your creation and the lessons we can learn from everything around us. May we train our eyes to see them, and allow our hearts to be molded to the way you would have us to be-whether it’s comfortable or not!
by Kathryn Baker
Kathryn and her husband Andy live in San Marcos, TX and worship with the University church of Christ where Andy has served as the Associate/Youth Minister for 8 years. She stays at home with their 2 daughters and enjoys teaching Bible classes to children and ladies.