“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home . . . “ (Psalm 84:2-3 NIV)
It’s Sunday already. I dread Sundays and I don’t want to go to church. From the ride in my parent’s car, shoved in the back seat, forced to listen to dated music, to my sister complaining that I pick on her too much, going to church is the worst.
As I drudged out to the car, the sound of my sister’s high pitched squeals broke the quiet. Jumping up and down under the large tree in our front yard, she frantically pointed to the very top branches.
“Dad, Mom, there’s a bird stuck up there and he can’t fly away!”
“Looks like a sparrow got caught in some string. Must have been flying with it in his claws. I’ll get a ladder and try to set it loose.”
I couldn’t believe it. Dad runs us like a military unit on Sunday mornings. He hated to be late for church. If we didn’t leave on schedule, we’d have to sit in the front like all the other latecomers.
I watched as he gently untangled the string on the frantic little bird’s claws. It would struggle and fight and then give up from exhaustion. Finally, almost fifteen minutes later, the bird flew away, leaving our sight as soon as it was free.
“That’s gratitude for you.” I huffed under my breath. “It doesn’t have to sit up front at church today!”
The drive to church went on as usual. My sister chattered about the little sparrow and went on and on about Dad being a hero.
As we climbed the steps to the sanctuary, Dad held my arm and let my sister and mom go ahead. He looked at me with an expression of love and compassion I hadn’t seen in a while. When he spoke to me, his words were carefully chosen.
“Son, that little bird reminded me how you’ve been fighting my guidance and turning away the Lord’s gift of freedom. I want you to know, I would do anything to give you the freedom I gave that little sparrow this morning. But you need to ask Jesus for your freedom. All this heavy anguish you carry is as confining as the sparrow’s tangled string. Stop fighting and let the Lord free your strings.”
He went on in to church. I wanted to lag behind, but I went and sat up front with him. That day, I went forward and asked Jesus to free me from my sin and bondage. As I lifted my head after praying, the weight was gone. Looking up, I could still see the sparrow flying away and I knew that as soon as I had quit struggling, I too was able to soar.
At times going to church and tagging along with family may seem unbearable, but if you just stop to listen, you might find someone really cares about you.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31 NIV)
“Come on Hanna, Jeff is waiting. We’ll miss our ride.” Sam was tired of bugging her to get done.
“Just a little bit more spray and I’ll be ready. I’m not going out in public with my hair a mess.” Hanna pulled and tugged as she froze a tuft of hair in place.
The girls got into Jeff’s car and he took off in a hurry. “What was the holdup?”
“Oh just miss prissy and her ‘not-a-hair-out-of-place’ obsession.” Sam was totally disgusted.
Hanna defended herself. “Look, I have a standard to uphold and Lisa Tillerman will not beat me out of homecoming queen this year. All she does is worry about her perfect hair and her perfect body and her perfect wardrobe. Must be nice.”
Everyone met at the mall and car-pooled to Barb’s house for her birthday party. After a while, Hanna and Sam noticed that Lisa wasn’t there.
“Where’s Lisa?” Hanna asked Barb. “It’s not like Lisa to miss a chance for a public appearance.”
Later that night when Hanna got home, her mom was waiting up to talk to her. They sat in the kitchen and Hanna listened to the news. It just didn’t seem real. Her mom told her that Lisa had collapsed earlier in the day and been taken to the hospital. The doctors discovered that she had Leukemia.
After weeks of treatment, Hanna went to visit Lisa. Jeff arrived to pick her up and she was on time for once. When Hanna walked in the room, Lisa let out a cry and turned her head away. A turban was wrapped around her head. She had lost all her beautifully kept hair.
Hanna’s first instinct was to run out of the room, but with tears running down her cheeks, she leaned over and grabbed Lisa. The two hugged and cried. Hanna looked at Lisa and wiped her tears. “You’re still beautiful Lis’. And you know, Kelly shared a scripture from 1 Samuel 16:7 at youth group last week, ‘The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’ (NIV) I can’t think of anyone with a more beautiful heart and as much courage as you.”
Hanna placed a flower in Lisa’s turban. “Besides, God won’t have to worry about knowing every hair on your head for a while so He’ll be able to concentrate on getting you well!” Lisa smiled through her tears.
As they left the hospital, Hanna turned to Jeff. “I don’t feel like running for homecoming queen anymore. The real beauty is Lisa and I don’t think I could compete.”
When you just can’t seem to get it right, look at each strand of hair and remember that the Lord has numbered every one. Then try to figure where the importance really is.