Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lessons from the Neighborhood Hawk

The early morning sun was shining on half of our neighborhood, the birds were busy with their morning rituals, and I was setting out for an early morning walk while the rest of my crew were still sleeping.  These are the mornings I love...peaceful, quiet, healthy.  Time to listen to some songs of worship through my earphones as I reflect on life, God's goodness, and how I'm recognizing the two being intermixed more and more each day.  It's just...well...nice.

This particular Saturday morning, I was three quarters of the way around my subdivision in a cul-de-sac when out of the corner of my eye our neighborhood hawk took off from an empty lot sign and flew across to one of our neighboring houses.  I had no idea he was even there!  He was probably just 5-10 feet from me and I never even saw him.  Darn...I was so close and never even knew it!

This beautiful hawk flies throughout our subdivision all year round.  I do not know where his home is.  Our subdivision is fairly new so there are no trees big enough to house a hawk, but there are some neighboring fields around with some much larger trees, so I assume he comes to visit us from there.  He likes to fly around looking for food and occasionally lands himself on one of the houses or lot signs for a break.  I've even seen him perched up on our neighbor's playset once.  I love watching him swoop and glide and claim the air space for himself.

That morning, I got to watch a little episode with this hawk that left my mind dwelling on him for quite some time.  Did you know God can talk through a neighborhood hawk?  Well, He can if you are willing to take the moment to listen.  When I came back around the subdivision to the house the hawk had flown to, I noticed he was perched on the top corner where he regularly likes to sit.  As I drew closer, however, I noticed he was not alone.  Right behind him on the roof sat a smaller bird--I believe a sparrow or some other little bird that size.  That little bird was hopping along the roof peak towards the hawk like there was nothing there multiple times his size.  I kept wondering if he knew what he was doing...I mean, if I was the size of a sparrow and there was a hawk a few feet away from me, I would probably hop the opposite direction, wouldn't you???  Anyway, I stopped long enough to watch this little bird finally get so close to the hawk he was literally right behind him.  All of a sudden that little bird just flew a few inches into the air and pounced on the back of the hawk.  What!?!  I couldn't believe it--he just kept doing it--hop up, pounce on the hawk, land on the roof again...hop, peck, land...hop, pounce, land again.  It was crazy!

You would think that hawk would have turned around and gave that little bird a piece of his mind, but no, no, no...not this hawk.  This neighborhood friend of mine stood his ground in complete and utter stillness.  I'm pretty sure he never even blinked.  He just sat there staring out into the open field with absolutely no regard to the pestering nuisance behind him.  Finally, the little bird just gave up and flew away while the hawk remained completely motionless, still fixated on what he was watching for...his next meal, I suppose.  I walked on past him to my own house to grab my camera.  I was in awe of this strong, stoic, calm presence and wanted to capture his image to remember that moment.  When I got close enough on the other side of the house to zoom in for a good picture, I clicked the camera once, twice, and then stepped one step closer to try to get him to turn his head for a better shot of his face.  When my foot hit the pavement he swooped his head around towards my direction and flew off towards the big trees on the opposite side of the neighborhood faster than I could click the camera button a third time.  I guess I, unlike the little sparrow, was big enough to make him move.

(The neighboring farm house tree he flew to.  Can you see him?)

Typically an incident like this one would bring up a lot of different thoughts in my mind and then somehow God would help me to weed through it all until one "light bulb moment" was left to take away.  On this occasion, however, I have found myself completely unable to think of this in one singular direction.  It's like God is saying, "There are so many different ways to look at this and I want you to glean something from each".  So, without further ado, I will share my five lessons I have gleaned from the neighborhood hawk incident...all different from each other, but all very good for me to hear...maybe at least one will resonate with where you find yourself today too.  I have also listed several Scriptures that God spoke to my heart when further contemplating these "lessons".

1.  God is the hawk and Satan is the little bird.  God is bigger.  God's feathers will never get ruffled by Satan.  Satan will never win a battle against God.  He can not even make God flinch.  God has won this war for all eternity because He is BIGGER, so instead of battling God, that little bird (Satan) has moved away from Him.  He knows he is simply too weak, too small, too defeated.  Unfortunately, just as that little bird finally moved onward away from the hawk, I'm pretty sure he still went looking for something else to dominate over, eat, or bother at least. And so it is the same with Satan.  When he knew he could no longer win the victory against God, he flew on to smaller prey.  What will his little prey be today?  It could very easily be me.  It could be you.  It could be neither of us if we acknowledge that the Big Hawk has our back and we can stand up to that stupid little bird instead of letting him peck all he wants to at our backs.

"Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
~ Matthew 16:23

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
~ I Peter 5:8-9

"I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself."
~ Psalm 89:1-2
2.  Another thought...God wants me to be like this hawk when it comes to the lies, distractions, and evil intentions of Satan.  So many times I fail to recognize how little Satan and his schemes are in comparison to who God is and who I am with Jesus on my side.  I often consider myself weak, scared, unimportant, and unable to be the victor.  I view myself as a sparrow the same size as Satan instead of the bigger bird--the hawk--God has made me to be.  Satan is that little bird always attempting to peck and pounce on my true identity in Christ from the back...but not so much my literal back, but instead, the back of my mind.  If I'm honest, his lies are never really at the forefront of my thoughts...they come from behind--unknowingly slipping in and attacking when I least expect them.  Too easily my focus can shift off of what God wants me to be focused on and turn towards what Satan is doing behind me...even if it seems like a small little thing.  God said to me on Saturday, "Angie, I view you as this hawk.  You are strong, secure, esteemed, and BIGGER than Satan's feeble attempts to ruffle your feathers.  Do not even give him a glance when you know he is there bothering you.  Stay completely focused on what you know you should be doing--what you are meant to be doing--and eventually he will give up and move on because he will know he can not win against you, just like he can not win against Me.."
"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. "
 ~ I Corinthians 15:58

 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
 ~ Ephesians 6: 13-16

3.  Another thought...In the past, I tended to view God like that hawk and I like the little sparrow.  Sometimes God seemed too big for me to "bother".  Sometimes I seemed too small to even approach Him.  Sometimes I wondered if I even had a chance at moving the God who sits on His Holy "Perch".  When I did approach God, I tended to approach him from the back...hesitant...afraid...cowardly.  I got close enough to throw my little request His way and then run back a bit hoping He didn't get mad at my pettiness of a prayer.  Then, because I knew I was "supposed" to go to Him with anything even though I was scared to approach Him, I'd bring another request or prayer from behind and throw it quickly again.  Can anyone relate?  Well, this is what God spoke to my heart on Saturday, "Angie, now you know you are not a little bird.  Now you know I am not a big mean hawk.  I am bigger than you, yes, but I am only bigger so that you can take full advantage of what I have to offer you.  Did that little bird move the hawk on that rooftop by little pecking from the back?  No.  Did it even give that little bird any attention?  No.  If you want to move Me, Child, come to My face.  Approach me with confidence right in front of Me.  Come with your requests because you desire Me, the BIGGER Bird, to acknowledge you, fight for you, fly with you, or whatever it is your heart of hearts desires.  Do not approach me from the back so that I have to wonder if you are really there or not, but just come to me face to face where I can show you my love and compassion.  That is what will move Me."

"Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—God sends forth his love and his faithfulness."
~Psalm 57:1-3 

"You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.
God will go before me and will let me gloat over those who slander me."
~Psalm 59:9-10

4. And another one...we are the hawk and the sins of our past are the little bird behind us.  That hawk could have turned around at any moment and acknowledged the little bird pestering him, but he didn't.  He kept his gaze in front of him the whole time.  Only looking out towards his goal, his needs, his future meal.  He did not allow what was behind him to distract him from what he really should have been focusing on.  God said to me, "Angie, this is how I want you to view your past.  The sins of the past are behind you.  They are not who you are now.  Because of the forgiveness and healing you have accepted from Me, you are a much larger, more beautiful, and confident have been are not who you were.  Yes, occasionally those sins from the past creep up from behind and desire to peck at your back, but that does not mean you HAVE to turn around and entertain them or even acknowledge them.  They are in the past and what you need to do is focus only on what is in front of you.  Remember who I have made you to be--the hawk.  Just like that hawk was bigger than the little bird, so you are bigger than your sins.  You are meant for far greater than what is behind you.  You are meant for wide open fields full of whatever will meet your needs and fill you with what will bring you life.  Turning around and focusing on your past will only keep you on that rooftop bothered by everything smaller than you.  Instead, remember what you have come through, the forgiveness you have been given, and who you are now.  Doing that will easily keep your focus in front of you.  You will then naturally feel like taking off in flight and soaring through the air, confident and free.

"Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.  For the grave cannot praise you, death cannot sing your praise; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.  The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; parents tell their children about your faithfulness."
~ Isaiah 38:17-19

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me"
~Psalm 86:11-13a

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
~Philippians 3:12-14
"Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.  They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LordTheir hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."
~ Psalm 112:6-8
5. Finally...God is the hawk and we are the little bird coming to Him with our prayer requests.  We bring our requests to God over and over and over, but for some reason He doesn't seem to move at all.  He doesn't budge.  Nothing changes.  Our prayers seem unanswered.  So what do we do?  We stop praying.  We think He doesn't care.  We don't even try to see what He is intently watching in the field because we are stuck on us...on our own request...on our own agenda.  We eventually stop asking, move on to try to have our prayers answered by another human or by our own might, or we just give up on God altogether because He didn't seem to notice us.  God said to me on Saturday, "Remember, Angie, never give up asking, seeking, and knocking, and it will be given to you.  Do not give up like the little bird eventually did.  Be like the persistent widow with your prayer requests.  Keep praying!  My attention may be on something else--perhaps your surroundings, your future, your protection, the bigger picture you can't see while you are busy continually bringing your requests to me.  But, Angie, DON'T STOP!!!!  Eventually, if you stay persistent, My attention will turn towards what it is you desire and need and you will see the best answers for you.  I always have your BEST in mind.  Do not give up on me.  I know you are there,--just like that hawk knew that little bird was there the whole time--I know you are there.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
~Matthew 7:7-8
 "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near."
~James 5:7-8

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
~ Luke 18:5

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Angie, I needed to hear this today. Love you!