Yesterday morning around 5:00AM I awakened to all kinds of commotion going on in my home’s H&AC/water heater closet. With loud cackling and swooshing of wings, I realized that a couple of birds somehow had entered an external vent of our condo and worked themselves over the ceiling then into this closet. I discussed the matter with my sleepy wife, and we decided to wait until dawn hoping the birds would fly towards light as the closet doors open. With sunlight now shining, the first couple of times that I opened the double doors to the closet, nothing happened. The third time I opened the door, I was staring at a black bird with yellow eyes and an orange beak. He was staring at me who he must have considered a potentially murderous giant. Yet, he flew right by my left ear and with the help of a broom in my wife’s hands and long handle mop in my hands we directed him, and he chose to fly towards the light of the open backdoor. In a matter of seconds. he flew quickly across the room and out through the light of the opened door to freedom. Unfortunately, the second bird did nothing. This little bird’s course of action was to sit and chirp mournfully overwhelmed with his problems. He had decided that his perch in the upper right back corner of the closet above the water heater was the safest bet to survive. Finally, we closed the doors opening them frequently to see if we could coax the bird to fly out of the closet but nothing happened. Mid-afternoon, my wife opened the doors to discover the little guy was lying on the raised closet floor with no chance of survival.
Contemplating these birds, it hit me that these little guys typified human beings. Some of us will look at the giants of life and act, flying towards the light of the open door. Yet, others of us will sit paralyzed with fear feeling the safest thing to do is nothing. The problem with the latter disposition is that the giants are still there and no move towards the light ever occurs. My wife lives like the first bird. My tendency is to behave like the second bird. What does that look like? Fear, worry, anxiety, depression, self-defeat, people pleasing, feelings of failure, insecurity…We never fly towards the light of an open door but continue day after day roosting in fear in a “safe” (in reality stagnant) place.
In the light of our episode, there is a powerful verse in the New Testament that directs the behavior of Christ-followers. Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7 states that ”God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” God’s Spirit is not fearful but powerful. This word “power” is a translation of the Greek word, dunamis, which means dynamite. “Agape love” means that we don’t harbor bitterness, animosity, unforgiveness or envy towards another person. “Self-control” means that we keep a soundness of mind not full of anxiety and fear.
In the Old Testament, while all the other Israelites were paralyzed for 40 days in fear, David sized up the Philistine giant, Goliath, who was well over 8 feet tall. Compared to his mighty God, David recognized that Goliath had no chance! He humiliated Goliath on the battlefield proclaiming to the giant, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” As Christ-followers, our problems compared to our almighty God, don’t have a chance.
We have a choice. Live like the 2nd bird stagnant in misery and failure; or, live like the 1st bird and fly towards the light of the open door.