Yesterday, I had a blueberry picking date by myself. It felt like a me-date because, as a mother of four, there are few times that I am left by myself for more than an hour at a time. I brought my phone and a podcast to listen to, but instead of using my phone as a distraction, I tuned into the sounds around me instead: the voices of a family picking blueberries two rows over, a mooing cow in the pasture across the road, a church bell chiming the hours.
As I picked, I found a rhythm. Blueberry picking can be quite meditative. Reach out, grab a handful of berries, and gently drop them, plunk, plunk, into the bucket. Reach out again, plunk, plunk.
I decided to be intentional with my quiet time. “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to listen to you today. Speak, and I want to listen.”
As often happens when I pray this prayer, no audible voice followed. No Bible verses dropped into my consciousness. In fact, my thoughts continued unabated, as they often do.
As I moved down the row of bushes, I felt, more than saw, a bird fly out of the blueberry bush in front of me.
“Was that my imagination?,” I thought, “That seems like a strange place for a bird, unless… Oh! I bet there’s a nest in this bush.”
Sure enough, there, a foot above my head, was a tiny nest with three white-speckled eggs nestled inside. What an unexpected place for a bird’s nest! I quietly took a picture of it to show my boys when I got home.
As I continued picking, I soon heard another bird chirping insistently in my direction. It wasn’t a sweet, happy chirp. It was a warning chirp. I knew what that meant: another mama bird was warning me that her babies were nearby, and I was too close. I looked up into the blueberry bush before me, and right in front of my eyes was another bird’s nest. It was even smaller than the first. Inside of this nest were baby birds: newly hatched, pink, with only the beginnings of downy feathers.
What a delightful surprise! I planned on receiving blueberries and quiet time that afternoon, but was especially excited to see baby birds too.
For the mama birds, however, I don’t believe my happening upon their nests was a delightful surprise. It was the exact opposite. In building their nests, I’m sure they thought they had hit the jackpot. Building a nest in the midst of such bounty: blueberries and insects at their doorstep. By building their nests in the middle of a blueberry farm, they had managed to find food, but what they hadn’t planned on was the barrage of visitors that would descend upon their safe haven once the blueberries were ripe.
I wonder if this isn’t an allegory for our spiritual lives? Comfort and bounty bring the illusion of security. Sometimes we believe that God’s kindness and provision means living a comfortable and safe life, yet, this kind of life rarely brings spiritual growth. Learning to abide in Jesus means following Him no matter the circumstances.
Jesus came to his disciples and invited them into relationship, saying, “Follow me.” He didn’t give them the full picture of what they were signing up for. If He had, I wonder if they would have gone so willingly. No, He invited them into the mystery and adventure that comes with discipleship.
If you walk with the Lord long enough, He will no doubt call you to obedience in an area that feels uncomfortable. It may even feel unsafe. Truthfully, you could not be safer than in His will. A blueberry bush might feel safer and more beneficial than a tall tree to a small bird, who is unaware of the danger that humans will soon bring to her nest. Like those birds, we too, may seek places of safety that are actually the opposite. In following Jesus, we can know that from his omnipotent perspective, he is more aware of the dangers than we ever will be.
He never promises safety, but he does promise he will be with us. As C.S. Lewis writes in the Chronicles of Narnia, “Course he isn’t safe, but he’s good.”
As I am about to embark into new endeavors this fall, this is a good reminder for my soul. What the Lord is calling me to in the near future feels like a risk. I have wondered multiple times if I might have heard him wrong. Especially as the world has changed due to the pandemic, I’ve wondered, is this the right time to make a transition? I’ve asked God, “Are you still absolutely sure?”
The beautiful thing about following Christ is that He won’t lead you down the wrong path. You can’t step out of His will without purposefully sinning. He is a good teacher, and He doesn’t lead us halfway to the destination and then disappear. If He’s calling you to take on something that feels uncomfortable, know that He’s already ahead paving the way. He’s got your best in mind. You can trust Him.
Pause: Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Meditate on Psalm 23:3: He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (ESV).
Renew: Reflect on your spiritual journey. When has the Lord called you to act in obedience to Him? What did it cost you? What was the result? What did you learn about Him through the process?
Next: Perhaps you are right where the Lord has called you to be right now. If so, enjoy it! However, if you feel the Lord is leading you towards obedience in some area of your relationship with Him, pray about the steps He would have you take next. Ask others to pray with you.
May we learn to rest in the safety of our Savior, not the illusion of our own comfort.
Pause, Renew, Next!