God Gave Me Grosbeaks

115_1579edI’m not big on signs.

Last spring, I listened to another woman talk about how God “gave” her dragonflies for a season of difficulty. Whenever something particularly hard was going on, she looked around and there one was, in real life or embroidered on pillow somewhere. It was her symbol of joy.

And I thought, how nice. If you want to believe God is sending you dragonflies when he’s got a few million other problems to be solving, great for you. Whatevs, darlin.

I was in a pretty sarcastic mood last spring.

It had been a rough spring for me, and I could feel that sarcastic shell arise. During one of the most emotionally taxing seasons I’d been in for a while, that defense mechanism resurrected as easily as an automatic garage door, like the drawbridge going up to seal off the keep from attack.

I don’t like it. Sarcasm is a useful refuge. If you put on a front that doesn’t expect much of the world, you can’t be disappointed. Pick out the flaws, expect the worst, deflect what you didn’t expect with a wry twist of the lip, and move on.

It’s a good refuge, until you feel your soul shrinking with the littleness of it all. Until you realize that the shell effects your God life, too. Ultimately, unfortunately, it’s also telling God I don’t expect much from him. That he can’t or won’t come through and I’m bracing myself for the fall.

I need rest from that kind of not great expectation.

And God, knowing well it had been a rough spring, did what God does. He loved.


I’m not sure I’m ever going to get over a God who responds to the worst of my behavior with, “Hey, here’s a big, beautiful package with your name on it because I love you so stinking much.” I hope I never get over it.

The day after the dragonflies, what happen at my house? I get grosbeaks.

Because birds are my love language.


I have a bird feeder pole outside my window. Since we had moved the furniture around after a wedding shower (moving furniture around regularly is my middle child’s superpower), my work chair sits a few feet away from it. I can see the birds’ antics all day. (This is not necessarily good for my concentration, but it is wonderful for my blood pressure.)

That week, I looked out, and right there nonchalantly dining on the sunflower seeds was my favorite bird—a rose-breasted grosbeak. I haven’t seen them in my yard in a few years. I’ve never seen one that close. I did a dance of joy in my heart. (Since a physical dance of joy right there might have scared him off.) Not only that, but yesterday, three of them showed up all at once. Three. My cup runneth over.

I get absolutely giddy over these birds. I’m sure my daughter thinks the sanity ship had finally sailed here. The joy is perhaps inordinate over three black, white, and red birds.

Except it’s not. They are a gift, and I know it. There is no such thing as inordinate joy when presented with a gift of love from the Father. There is nothing but gratitude and humbleness. And dances of joy.

I don’t have a huge lesson today. No three points. No deep theological premise. Except that it is deep, indeed, if you remember that love is the language, the message, the story arc and life breath of the Scriptures.

I can underestimate that so often.

The theologian Karl Barth didn’t consider it shallow, as it is reliably reported that, in answer to a University of Chicago student asking if he could summarize his whole life’s work in a sentence, Barth replied, “Yes, I can. ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’”

I’ll take that scholarly analysis for my own.

So all I have to say to you today is this: Don’t underestimate God’s love for you today. Find it. Know it. Do a dance of joy when you see it. Rest in it.

Jesus loves you. This I know.

This post is a part of Suzie Eller’s Live Free Thursday on rest. See her beautiful post. “Rest, so you can do.” Wisdom here.

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