Friday, August 26, 2005

look at the birds

Last night to get away from the paint fumes and muggy heat of our little house, we went for a walk to Mud Bay Park. As we strolled from the parking lot to the path on the dyke, we saw we weren’t alone. The sky all around was alive with swallows.

The tide was in and as we walked west on the path watching the sun, veiled by burnt pink clouds, slip out of sight against the tranquil bay, those swallows were zig-zagging around us, swooping up and down, skimming the water, just clearing the shrubs, and coming very close to our heads. I have never seen birds snap up bugs with such intensity and focus. It was as if some inner urge prodded them – eat, eat, eat!

The sun had altogether set by the time we got to the second gate where we turn around. As we began walking east, I realized that sometime in the last little while the sky had emptied. Where a few minutes before it had been a hive of activity, now all was still. There wasn’t a bird to be seen.

I suppose the birds know instinctively when it’s the perfect time to get their last snack of the day. Now, in the deepening darkness, that time had past. It was too late. The opportunity for harvesting those bugs was over.

Thinking about those swallows, so busy gathering food until the last possible minute, reminds me of another harvest. Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work "(John 9:4).

He also said "The harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

What were those works Jesus felt impelled to do, and what was the harvest? His assignment, when he sent out His disciples on a mission trip was to spread the good news that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7).

For us that involves telling others about how Jesus took the death penalty our sins deserve so we can go free, how He comes into our lives, takes them over and directs us by the Holy Spirit in living well and for His glory, and how we die secure in the knowledge we will live with Him forever. The harvest is all about helping others come to faith in Him by our lives and by our words. I remind myself that being a harvest worker is one of the reasons I’m still here on this earth.

Those swallows brought home the fact that the time of harvest will not be forever. I don’t want be like the son in Proverbs: "He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame" (Proverbs 10:5). I don’t want to feel I’m partly to blame when someday, people call out in anguish, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved" (Jeremiah 8:20).

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