I was out in the gazebo the other day, having my morning coffee with Karen and reeling from the four year old memory of the night my world changed forever. To put that in context, when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis was bleak. But she handled chemotherapy better than anyone – including the doctors – had thought. We – me – thought we had dodged the bullet.
Then came the night of Aug. 23, 2008 when it became painfully clear the calm would soon tilt to the chaos that claimed her life a scant 35 days later.
Nonetheless, I was in the gazebo with her Friday morning (Aug. 24) reliving the nightmare and feeling, quite frankly, pretty blue.
Out of the corner of my eye, a host of sparrows descended on my rose and burning bushes. One – not sure if it was the drone or hen – took charge and, I swear, stared straight at me while the others did what sparrows do, picking at the leaves, presumably chowing down on aphids and other bugs. But I focused on the head honcho … just sitting silently in stillness.
I immediately recalled the words of Jesus,
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight (Luke 2:6, NRSV).
And I felt ashamed for feeling sorry for myself.
God never “forgot” us as we walked down those last days. God never “forgot” me in the days, weeks, months and even years since Karen’s death. God wasn’t “forgetting” me as I sat there. And He won’t “forget” me as I move forward on this journey called life.
In contrast, I often “forget” God. In fact, I was forgetting Him as I sat there mired with melancholy.
But it wasn’t just the sparrows. The drone or hen was stonily still, which brought to mind Psalm 46:10,
Be still and know that I am God.
The sparrow knew that, but I wasn’t allowing God to be God. I kept and keep focusing on how my world crumbled around me and forgot and often forget the mandate from Scripture to not flinch in faith in God.
The irony is I always told Karen when she started fretting about this or that to stop and “be still and to listen to God.” Don’t you just hate it when your words come back to haunt you?
As sudden as the swarm of sparrows came, the drone or hen took flight with the host quickly following. The message, however, lingered.
I admit the pain is still there. But I know by faith God hasn’t forgotten me and still has a greater plan. I just have to remember to be still and listen. I have to remember to get out of the way. I have to remember the past is the past and no amount of melancholy will change anything.
And it took a sparrow on a Friday morning to remind me of that.