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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Little Bird

This is a work-in-progress. Thanks to some feedback from some friends, I've noticed there are some very important elements missing that are needed to really bring home the central theme I'm trying to get across. Please bear that in mind as you read. Once it's truely "finished" I'll remove this little disclaimer :-)


The little bird sat on the balcony ledge overlooking a beautiful garden. She knew she couldn't get down to the garden as her wings had been clipped a long time ago and she had learned the hard way that flying was no longer an option for her - but she had become content to watch the garden - the coming and going of other little birds and of people who often stopped to smell a rose or two - it was a beautiful view.

The little bird had no need to leave the balcony ledge - Her Maker took care to provide for all of her needs. There was always a good supply of bugs to nibble on and a little dip on one end was always filled with fresh water from the previous night's dew. Often times birds from the garden would fly up and visit her on the ledge and they would have lovely conversations about what went on in the garden. Sometimes the other birds would try to convince her to try flying once more, but the garden was a long way down and she had become content on her happy little ledge. Her contentment was reflected in her sweet song.

Then one day a Man came out onto the ledge and saw the little bird. She was only a little afraid - it was a man who had cruelly clipped her wings so long ago and she'd seen men do far more cruel things to other little birds. But she'd also seen them be kind and many had fed the birds in the garden below and smiled at their lovely melodies. Some Men even took other little birds home and there were tales of the wonderful places in which they now lived and the lavish attention they received from their Men.

The little bird wanted to believe that, just as other Men found other little birds beautiful and valuable, one might also find her to be so. She doubted it - knowing a bird with clipped wings was much less valuable than one unspoiled - still she could not help but hope.

The Man spoke kindly to the bird. He praised her singing and told her she brought him joy. Soon she began to trust him.

One day the Man said, "Little bird, you are so beautiful and your song is so sweet - I know you cannot fly and you must get lonely out here on this ledge. Won't you come and join me in my house? I will make for you a beautiful home and we can spend many hours together - you can sing and I will be happy." The little bird thought about her comfortable ledge. She had never been hungry or thirsty, but she had sometimes been lonely. She thought about days and nights in the company of the Man - singing to him and seeing him smile at her song. She thought about the other little birds who'd found kind Men to praise them and wondered if maybe, just maybe, she had now found the same.

The more she thought about it, the more discontent she became with her little ledge. Soon all her thoughts focused on the lonely times and she forgot the beauty of the garden and constant provision of her needs by an unseen hand. She forgot about the other little birds that came to visit. She began to feel as if her Maker did not provide for all her needs and that what she truly needed was to be with this Man. Despite her fear of leaving what she knew, she agreed to come in to the Man's house.

The Man prepared a beautiful home for the little bird - the gold wires curved elegantly at the top and there were several places to sit with fresh birdseed and water all neatly prepared. The little bird questioned the Man, "Why can I not simply live in your house outside of this little one you have provided?" The Man winced and asked, "Is this beautiful little home not enough for you?" Sensing she had offended the Man, the little bird immediatly agreed that it was the most beautiful little home ever and she would be happy to stay in that "cozy" little place if it pleased the Man. He grinned and brought her to the cage.

For the first few weeks things went almost as wonderful as the little bird had dreamt - with the door to the cage left open, the little bird could climb out and sit on top or settle down for a nap on a perch inside. Although she could not move about the Man's home freely, she did not feel trapped. The Man was faithful to keep the water and seed fresh and the little bird sang beautiful songs for the Man - and he smiled.

One day, the little bird noticed that her water had not been changed. "Excuse me, Man," she chirped lightly, "I was wondering if you would be so kind as to change the water in my dish?" The Man looked at the bird with what seemed like impatience, "I suppose I can take time away from all my important work just to change your water." The little bird did not understand the Man's disdain for her innocent question and made a note not to make such a big deal of it the next time - for somehow she knew in her heart there would be a next time.

After that, there were many times when the Man forgot to change the little birds water and soon he also neglected the food. When he noticed she was not singing so often, he would be reminded, apologize sincerely, and replenish her supplies. The little bird told herself the inconvenience was really not such a big deal. Her song still made the Man smile - at least most of the time, and he still seemed to want her around - at least some of the time. . . .

One day, while the little bird was sleeping in her cage, the Man came and quietly shut the door. When the bird awoke, she became concerned, but was afraid to voice her fears. The Man, seeing the concern in the little birds eyes, pulled up a chair and gazed at her through the bars. "I needed to close the door." he said earnestly, "There is another little bird I've been searching for and word has reached me that she may be near. I am afraid that if she sees you here, with the door open, she will think another has taken her place - that you can fly freely about my home without hinderance. This is a priviledge I once told her she alone could enjoy, though shortly afterwards she flew away and I have not seen her since. If the door is closed, she will know you are only a pet and she may choose to stay with me. It's not that your song is not sweet, it's just that her song is sweeter to me and her feathers are more beautiful as her wings have never been clipped. If you saw her, you would understand."

Only a pet . . .
Her song is sweeter . . .
Her feathers are more beautiful . . .
Her wings have never been clipped . . .

The Man's words cut to heart of the little bird with surgical precision. The pain was almost unbearable - but she did not voice it. The little bird was hurt by the realization that her song was not the song the Man most desired to hear and her feathers not as beautiful, but she understood that having had her wings clipped so long ago had in some way made her less than the free flying birds she'd known. What hurt her most was the word "pet" - but then she thought if my song is not so sweet and my feathers not so beautiful, perhaps, as a bird who cannot fly, a "pet" is all I am worthy to be. With sorrow and resignation she settled into her small closed cage and sang a more subdued and somber song.

After a few days, the Man had forgotten to feed and water the little bird. The stale water ran out and the seed became no more than chaff. The Man always seemed busy and she hated to disturb his work, but the grumbling in her stomach forced her to finally speak up. "Please," she quietly asked the Man, "may I have a little food and water when you have just a moment?"

The Man turned his attention full on the cage. His eyes took on a fire the little bird had never seen before. Suddenly she was afraid.

He rose from his seat and crossed the room. He opened the cage door and thrust in his hand to grasp the little bird. Frozen with fear she felt his strong fingers wrap almost too tightly around her fragile little body as he pulled her from the cage.

He spat out hurtful words about how ungrateful and selfish the little bird was to make demands of his time when he had so much important work to do. While he held her with one hand chastising her, his other hand reached forward and tore out feather after feather. The pain was unimaginable and the little bird could only weep, regretting her need.

A tear reached the Man's hand and suddenly he grew silent. His grip on her little body lessened and the face of the Man transformed from anger to sorrow. "I'm so sorry," he said, "I've just been so anxious to find that other little bird - and lately all you do is sing sad songs. I just don't understand why you can't simply stay in your cage and sing your pretty little song. Of course I will have to let you go when the other bird comes back, but for now you can make me smile if you will simply sing and ask for nothing in return."

The little bird began to realize the Man had never really loved her song - it was only a poor substitute for the song he longed to hear from another little bird - one that had left a long time before.

The little bird told the Man she would sing, but only if he could give her the food and water she needed.

The man grew angry again, though not as before. "Fine!" he exclaimed! "Then you can just go right back out to the ledge - all by yourself! If you won't give me the things I need, you are no longer worthy of being my little bird!" With that, he cast the little bird clumsily out onto the ledge where he had first found her.

The little bird stood on the ledge alone, dazed and unable to comprehend what had just occurred. Soon the pain of the feathers pulled began to sink in, though it was nothing compared to the realization that the Man was not who she thought he was. He had offered her a home, and given her a cage. He asked for her song, but refused her food and water. The worst cruelty, she realized, was that he had never really wanted her song in the first place. He found no real value in her - she was only a substitute for the other little bird.

The little bird looked around at her empty ledge and the loneliness gripped her. Was she doomed to the life of an outcast? Always to watch, never to fly? Always driven to sing with no one to value her song? Always to dream, never to hope? For a time, despair overwhelmed her. Then one day, despair turned to anger.

"He promised!" The little bird thought. "He promise me a home and all he gave me was a cage!" As she dwelt on the differences between her expectations and the reality of what she had been given, anger twisted itself into bitterness.

Other little birds began to notice the little bird was back on her ledge. Some flew up to chat but, seeing the mess her feathers were in and the countenance of her face, their visits were brief and they dared not ask her about the Man. As time went on, the little bird began to tire of her bitter thoughts and she began to notice the way the other little birds so carefully chose their topics of conversation. She was troubled by this as other little birds used to feel so comfortable talking to her about anything and everything.

Then she began to look around her little ledge again and she noticed that she had been eating fresh insects and seed, and drinking fresh dew all this time. She thought about her pulled feathers and realized the pain had long since subsided. She also realized she hadn't chirped a single song since she'd been tossed back out on the ledge.

She looked back into the house from which she had been cast and realized it was dark and lonely. She felt the sun warming her back, gazed out at the wide expanse of garden and sky and was suddenly grateful she was no longer confined to the cage in Man's home.

And then she saw Him.

All around her she felt His presence.

It was her Maker.

"I have been waiting . . ." He said, "waiting for you to come back to Me." The little bird thrilled at the depth of love and gentleness in her Maker's voice. "You have been gone for too long, and I miss your song."

"You?" the little bird dared to whisper. "You missed my song? But you have so many songs to choose from - mine cannot be worth hearing when compared to theirs."

The Maker grinned and the little bird almost could not contain her joy at the sight. "Each little bird's song is unique," said the Maker, "I gave your song to you and you alone. No one else can sing it - and I do so long to hear the song I gave you. It is so precious to Me. Won't you sing for Me? Won't you try?"

The Maker's plea was irrisistable. The little bird filled her lungs with the fresh clean air and sang as she had never sung before. She sang of her Maker, she sang of His love. She sang of His kindness and of His constant provision and care. The Maker closed his eyes and listened to the beautiful song. Other little birds heard the song and flew to the ledge. They longed to join in, but they could see this was a special moment meant just for the little bird and her Maker. They basqued in the beauty of her song.

The little bird didn't know how long she sang, but after a time, the Maker opened his eyes and she could see He had something to say, so she grew silent and waited for Him to speak.

"Little bird, for a time you strayed away from Me - looking to find your value from the Man. I ask you now to be content that I value you. Your song, sung to me, is more beautiful than any song sung to the Man. Your feathers gleam with the colors I gave them. And now, little bird, it is time you learned something else." With that, the Maker gently pushed the little bird off the ledge.

At first she was panicked and shocked that the Maker would be so cruel as to send her plummeting to her death after such an intimate encounter. Out of instinct and desperation she began to flap her wings.

Suddenly she was flying.

For what seemed like eternity the little bird swooped and dove and soared - and she sang. And though the other little birds would not have thought it possible, her song was now sweeter than it had ever been before. This time they joined her and before long the Maker was laughing out loud at all His little birds as they sang and swooped and dove and soared for Him and for Him alone.

Agape and Death

Friday night the worship team that I am a part of had the opportunity to minister at our church's 30's-40's singles group. It was a great time of fellowship and, of course, food :-) The Pastor, Tom Patton, was continuing in his series on I Cor. 13 - looking at what true "agape" love really is. This particular evenings sermon hit me squarely between the eyes and stepped all over my toes! Here are some of the phrases, concepts, resulting thoughts, etc. that stood out to me:

I Cor. 13 is "a portrait of Christ's life painted in blood."

To Love is to Die to self . . . . Agape & Death are synonyms (sort of - that only works one way of course - to truely love requires death to self, but death, obviously, does not require love . . . )

In Pastor Patton's review, he noted they had covered the first seven "Love is" words - Patient, Kind, Not Jealous, Not Bragging, Not Arrogant, Not Rude, Not Selfish. These, he described as "What love does in response to the evil that resides in us." This evenings sermon began a focus on "What love does in response to the evil in others."

Love is not PROVOKED. Now there's a tough word! "Provoked" in the Greek has the connotation of "roused to resentment," "embittered, "to be irritated, upset, angry."

If you have a problem getting upset, angry or irritated when offended, you are being selfish! (ouch, that one really hurt!)

Why shouldn't we be provoked? Because being provoked arises out of our belief that we have a right to something that we are not getting - respect, understanding, attention . . . fill in the blank - and this all boils down to pride. For instance, when I'm driving down the freeway to work (yes, this is a real life confession . . .) and somebody pulls into "my" lane ahead of me, then goes "too slow" - if I get irritated (which I must admit too) it's because I think somehow I had a right to continue going the (typically excessive) speed I wanted to go and the other driver had "no right" to get into "my" lane. That's foolish pride.

Here's a less obvious example - and one that really brought this lesson home to roost for me. A relationship goes wrong and the other person, in ending the relationship, uses hurtful words to describe my character - words which have no foundation in a true understanding of who I am, nor did they reflect the true issues that brought about the ending of the relationship. This action provoked me. I didn't really realize it until hearing this sermon - I just knew I was dealing with some ugly feelings resulting from the situation - feelings I felt were wrong, but also felt justified about.

You see, I thought I had a "right" to be understood, to have my character thought highly of, to be given the benefit of the doubt. I didn't - and I don't. Nor do I need that right. As the clay in the Potter's hand, I have no right to dictate what tools he will use to shape and form me - and if being misunderstood or thought poorly of is necessary, then I should accept it with grace - only then can I be conformed more to the image of Christ who, like a sheep to the slaughter, opened not His mouth.

Why don't I need that right? Because - my character, motives, intent - the very deepest parts of me - have already been judged pure and clean and acceptable in the eyes of the only One who's opinion matters. Christ stands as my defender - I have no need to defend myself. I am either doing what is right and therefore need no defense, or I need to repent - there is no middle ground.

I realized I needed to repent of not having true agape love for my friend - as was evidence by my being provoked rather than forgiving of my friend's hurtful words.

Think this is too radical? That we should stand up for ourselves when others misjudge us? Surely there are times when we should - as Paul did - but only when such a defense is required to defend the gospel we preach, not when it's strictly a personal offence. This is seen throughout the life of Paul and is beautifully summarized in Matthew 5: 38-41, "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two."

There are times when we must confront, in love, our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are judgemental as that is sinful, but when it is only a personal offense that it really does not harm us to forgive or when unbelievers mistreat us we are to be different from the world. "Love covers a multitude of sin."

Let us ask ourselves when wronged by an unbeliever - should we really expect anything different from someone in slavery to sin?? Their offense is only a symptom of a much more eternal problem. Their offense should drive us to our knees in prayer for their salvation.

Let us ask ourselves when wronged by an unbeliever - is this a sin issue that must be dealt with in my brother/sister's life? If not, then there is no question about what we must do - we must forgive - we must unconditionally love - and we must remember that Christ has forgiven us far greater offenses.

Love - agape love - dies to self. Self becomes unimportant; self has no rights; self takes it's place under the cross; self finds its justification - its defense - in Christ alone.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hello World

This is my first "blog" ever, so it will be brief :-) Just a test run to see what can be done here. I really like the idea of a place to keep a diary of all the Lord does for me and what He is teaching me. My purpose and hope is that someone out there will find encouragement in His work in my life. Seems to me it's also a good place to start putting together ideas I've had for some books - kinda takes care of the copyright issues, I think . . . I'll have to check into that, I guess.

Anyway, that's it for now.