I admire eagles, for the fact that they take on their prey with precision – leaving any bird lover breathless. More so, there is a family of eagles that are specialized in hunting snakes. Both the venomous and non-venomous snakes are on their menu. It is enthralling to see one of the most dreaded reptiles turned into dinner by an eagle.
The snake eagle is a master serpent hunter. It specializes in hunting snakes for breakfast, lunch and supper. The serpent, on the other hand, does not go down without combat. But most of the time it loses and finds itself on the Raptor’s dinner table.
In the animal kingdom, it is good to be in a position to fend for yourself. It is better when one can defend themselves. But the best place to be is where you one cannot just defend but offend too. This is not always the case as there are many factors that go into play in determining the position an animal hold. Some of these factors are beyond the animals themselves. Apex predators such as eagles, lions and tigers sit at the top of the food chain and enjoy the peace that comes with the status.
The indefensible sparrow
On August 15, 2017, Columbia Broadcasting Services (CBS) ran a story about a nestling of a sparrow that was rescued by a couple in California and taken care of until it was able to fly out and come back. They had moved to a new house and noticed nestlings that kept falling from their nest. They decided to rescue one that was remaining lest eaten by a cat or any other predator. Interestingly they even went ahead to nickname the little bird Sandy. The bird grew up and would venture out to fly with other sparrows and come back in the evening. However, they were still worried that the bird could be preyed on by either other birds or snakes and cats.
Unlike the eagle, the sparrow is hapless, hopeless and helpless.
More than a sparrow
A sparrow may be one of the smallest birds. It does not have a colourful résumé like an eagle’s. It is disadvantaged in all respects. However, this does not mean it is of no use. It has a role to play in the ecological niche.
The Gospels tell us that sparrows were of little monetary value in the times of Jesus – Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God (Luke 12:6). Despite their presumed worthlessness, they played a very important role in Judaism. They were the choice for the poor who could not afford an offering of a sheep or a goat. Nowhere do we read in the Bible that God rejected them as a sacrifice. In addition, we find Jesus emphasise their significance before God – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father (Matthew 10:29).
Sparrows lead a communal life. But there are times when they are alone on the rooftops. Still, God takes note of the lonely sparrow – I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop (Psalm 102:7). A sparrow is as close to God as we can never imagine or comprehend – Yea, the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God (Psalm 84:3). It may be a little bird, but it knows where to build her nest – in the Sanctuary of the Lord.
Our value is not premised on physical merits. Our seemingly physical meagerness and irrelevance do not mean we are of no use in God’s sight, for these are human standards that are founded on pride, meanness and selfishness. We are all regarded as important before the eyes of God – rich and poor, black and white, big and small, educated and uneducated, short and tall. If God had to put a price tag on each one of us then it would probably read, ‘The Life of God’s Son’.
God in His eternal and infinite wisdom has our lives intact. This means that He knows when we fall from a tree, stumbles upon a serpent, sold worthlessly by spoilsmongers and perched alone on rooftops. The pain of diseases, the agony of loss and the dejections of life we go through are not lost to Him.
He looks at our lives from an eternal point of view and He helps us understand that there is life beyond the earth.
In the presence of God
Since the times of Jesus, humans have had a momentous opportunity to establish their relationship with God. We can choose to either build our nest at the altar/sanctuary or in the wild. The clever sparrows and swallows go for the altar. We can learn from them. We are safe at the altar. We can lay our eggs and hatch at the altar. We can raise our young ones at the altar.
Building a nest at the altar means abiding in His presence. Every day of our lives can be a worship experience. It is a level whereby our praises and prayers stop being just events and sessions and become seamless service. It is living our lives while fully aware of God’s closeness. He watches over us day and night. He has numbered all the hair on our heads. Worry and fear melt when we put our faith in Him. It is not only the feeling that God is right where we are and in our situations but also the knowledge that He is omnipresent. When the feeling of His presence disappears and our faith appears to dissipate, then our knowledge of His promises sustains us.
It is high time we learnt to depend on Him not only for provisions but for Providence too. Living in His Presence should be the ultimate goal of each one of us. Coram Deo!