Don’t go it alone, seek God’s help in life’s journey


He is a thrush and inherited a rather unenviable name (Turdus migratorius) when classified by the American Ornithologists’ Union. He also has a voracious appetite for earthworms that is not appetizing in the least. And yet, his muted red breast and dark gray body make it easy to identify this guy. He is a healthy and robust American robin who posted himself outside my kitchen window on Saturday — the day we woke up to four inches of springtime snow. We looked out on the unusual sight and he looked in on us.

I became aware of his presence rather dramatically when a rhythmic thump, thump, thump on a downstairs window awakened me. I had planned to rise early anyway because I love mornings and wanted to see if the predictions for snow were correct. And yet, it was that strange noise of something whacking a window that pulled me quickly away from my slumber and down into the kitchen. I approached the window, anticipating his swift departure. He stood his ground, instead. Belligerent in his manner.

It was the beginning of our now famous stare-downs. I look at him and he looks back. When I step away he frequently resumes his bumping against the windowpane. If it were not for my husband the biologist, who carries explanations about animal behavior around in his head, I might continue thinking he has simply knocked himself silly. The truth of the matter is this: Mr. Migratorius is probably a first-time father and somewhere close by is his mate, incubating a clutch of eggs.

The other truth is an even greater surprise: my window is so clean he can see himself. It is payback for thinking we could not possibly celebrate spring with dirty wintertime grime. This poor fellow is certain he has spotted another male who is not only invading his space but must be chased off. His family is depending on it!

This primal, territorial behavior resembles a few humans I know. They cannot seem to steer clear of their own image. They have bought the idea that all the truth and strength they will ever need to live a successful life can be found inside themselves. Not only do they discount as unrealistic most everything that is invisible to the naked eye, but they whack themselves in the head, over and over again, without understanding that a radical change in course might be beneficial.

The book of Proverbs — written to help people spot divine wisdom and apply it to their daily lives — is a treasure chest filled with great advice and I highly recommend a daily reading. Written by King Solomon early in his reign, with co-writers Agur and Lemuel writing additional sections some years later, Proverbs works from a premise that while we are given gifts at birth, we do not possess all it takes to live the kind of life God envisions for us. We must look beyond ourselves for wisdom and Proverbs tells us that respecting the Lord (sometimes termed “fearing” the Lord) is the truest and most faithful source of that help.

Consider these cautionary words, found in the third chapter:

Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;

take to heart my commands. They’ll help

you live a long, long time,

a long life lived full and well.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume you know it all.

In other words, without God, we are bound to fly into the same wall, over and over again. We will believe the lie that if we analyze it enough or ignore it, manipulate the people around us or haphazardly switch courses often enough, we will eventually happen upon the right answers.

God tells us that life is not meant to be a bumpy, horrendous ride. It is a journey filled with hope and strength, energy and victory and deep joy if we lean not on our own understanding but include vast amounts of His, as well.

And so I watch our feathered friend stand his ground. He has dirtied my clean window and whitewash the deck. He also has reminded me of a great life lesson: we cannot trust all that we see when we go it alone.

Only with God’s help can we truly fly.

Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and speaker who makes her home on Whidbey Island. Her award-winning column has run for 12 years in Western Washington newspapers. E-mail comments and speaking requests to faithfulliving@hotmail.com.

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