I am a birdwatcher.
I know it’s not the coolest of hobbies. Particularly in high school, it’s not one your peers respect or are impressed by—not like surfing or footy or rock climbing. I remember telling my wife on one of our first dates that I had some big news about myself to share “I am a birdwatcher.” She actually loved it (also relieved the big news wasn’t that I was a drug dealer or something like that). I started when I was 12—my grandparents gave me a pair of binoculars and showed me the world of birds. And I have never looked back.
Being a birdwatcher is actually a lot like being a Christian. You get the same reactions … they think you just hang out with old people all the time.
Being a birdwatcher is actually a lot like being a Christian. You get the same reactions from people: “Oh okay, well, whatever makes you happy …” and they think you just hang out with old people all the time.
But being a Christian and a birdwatcher has brought a number of blessings into my life. There are quite a few references to birds in the Bible and God uses them to teach us some very valuable lessons in life. I want to share 3 things that birds have taught me over the years.
Stop, Look and Wonder
And God said, “… Let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created … every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Gen 1:20–22)
The breadth and limitlessness of Gods creativity is just gob-smacking.
When you are in the bush or in a rainforest and just stop, look and listen, and you will begin to see how God has filled every corner of this planet with a diversity of birds. There are about 10,000 species, so different from one another. I have seen 7% of all the species in the world and with every new species, I am amazed at how creative our God is. From the dazzling beauty of the Birds of Paradise to the power of the Eagle to the amazing mimicry of a Lyrebird. And then there are the hundreds of small brown birds which we often overlook, and yet God made each one of them too. The breadth and limitlessness of Gods creativity is just gob-smacking. And He made each one for His glory, for us to enjoy and wonder all the more at who God is.
Caring for Birds
My first job was breeding and selling Budgerigars. I made $5 a bird. One time I remember failing to replace the birds water and it was a very hot day. My Dad found the birds panting and he was not happy. He entered my room with a piece of paper, printed with the words “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” (Proverbs 12:10) and stuck it on my wall. That verse stayed there for many years and made me realise a very important truth. God actually cares for how I look after the creatures he has made. It brings him glory and a smile when I look after well the birds entrusted to me. When I replace the water it is an act of worship; righteous in Gods sight.
When I Worry
I love that Jesus’ advice for when we get anxious and worry about the future is to go birdwatching:
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. (Luke 12:24)
Jesus highlights that God cares for even the drabbest of birds, the ravens, and points out that they do not have portfolios, own houses, have life savings and yet God looks after them. “And how much more valuable are you than birds!” he says. You are so much more precious and dear to your heavenly Father, and he will look after you, providing for your needs. Sure he may not give you everything you want (that’s not good parenting) but God is a perfect Father who is there for you. So when the worrying bubbles up about where will you live, or how will you get though this week, how you are gong to manage financially—look to the birds. If God provides for them, how much more for you.
This poem puts its well:
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I would really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush around and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”
It’s not just birdwatchers who have lots to learn from birds. Brother and sisters, God has placed birds in your life (the Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Eagle, even the Ibis) for you to enjoy, to praise God for, to care for and to teach you to be confident and remember that God will look after you.