Look at the Birds

March 6th, 2024 Article for Bancroft Register

There is a quiet beauty to the harvested fields of late Autumn and early Spring. I think it’s something about the earth being done with its work for the year and settling in for a deep sleep. In the early spring of 2020, I was a first year student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and we had been told to leave campus in the initial craziness of the pandemic. For the next couple of months, I would live on my grandparent’s farm in Northwest Iowa. I clearly remember driving from St. Louis to the farm and seeing how empty the roads were. It felt like I would drive for hours without sight of another soul. The combination of the pandemic and empty roads made for a surreal drive, like something out of an apocalyptic movie. One thing I did notice, though, was all of the birds picking away at the fields that had been revealed by the freshly melted snow. I remember thinking to myself how strange it was that the birds were continuing their lives like there was nothing wrong. Didn’t they know that the world was ending!? It was a great comfort in the stress and anxieties of that time. God’s good creation would continue to run just like it had been designed: the sun would continue to rise, the dried up plants would once again bloom into spring flowers, and the birds would continue to peck.

That experience reminds of something Jesus told to his followers about human anxiety and worries. At the end of Matthew chapter 6, Jesus tells his followers that they should not be worried about their own lives. Well, that’s easy enough to say! Our world and lives are constantly filled with such anxieties and fears. Modern generations are being defined by the anxiety they experience at life in this world. What alternative does Jesus suggest? He points us to look at the world around us. God continuously provides for his creation. He tells them to look at the birds. Birds do not plant and harvest crops, but God feeds them anyway. Flowers do not work and they live for only a little while each year, yet they are dressed colorfully and will beautify our world every spring. God will continue to provide for you as well. Our human anxieties do not change the truth about our world: that God remains in control and provides for all life. By seeking God’s kingdom, and his righteousness, we understand that there is a promise from God embedded at the very core of our natural world.

At my grandparent’s farm, I had a front row view of spring. Early plants would shiver through late snowfalls, the timber would slowly fill up with green and the sounds of life, flowers would bloom in the prairies. At the time, we noticed in our Covid-filled, human world that life would begin to emerge as well. People began to venture from their homes, back to friends, work, and church. Life and the natural cycles of our world would continue as they always have. When God revealed his name to Moses at the burning bush as the great “I AM,” he was even giving a promise in that name. God is eternally present-tense. He is the eternal creator of our world and will never disappear. The natural world that he created was designed with the intention of continuing. Slow down, notice the world around you. Observe as the natural world points to an eternal truth: life will not be stopped by death. Look at the birds and listen to their praise for life and their Creator!
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Pastor Briton Nelson