The other day we returned home to find our porch littered with dried mud. Further inspection revealed a few broken eggs covered in ants. Three swallow nests had their bottoms broken out - the work of a snake. It was our second snake attack. A week or two before we had found a snake in a nest. The boys shot the snake and killed it, but not before the eggs were taken. We don't know what happened to the parents.
I understand that snakes must eat, but I felt sad and angry at the sight of those violated nests. The fact that we had 30 nests still in tact was little comfort. Those birds were gone and their absence seemed to cast a hush over our whole community of swallows.
Standing there on the porch I remembered the words of Jesus. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care." I felt close to my Father that day, sharing in His care, His sorrow for those little birds. I took comfort knowing that though I would not be spared sorrow, pain, or death, and though I could not spare my loved ones such loss, we will never be alone. We will always be in our Father's care.
Those words in Matthew about the sparrows and the penny are followed by an equally surprising assertion that the very hairs on our heads are numbered. Many years ago I found myself meditating on that passage, thinking about how tender and poetic those words were when I felt the voice of Jesus interrupt my thoughts. Such interruptions are always a welcome surprise, though usually challenging.
"Amy," He asked. "Do you think I was exaggerating?"
Well, the truth was that I did. I didn't really believe the hairs of my head were numbered. I had assumed that Jesus was taking some sort of poetic license, but the tone of his query let me know I had been wrong.
It was a tender rebuke which I must re-examine. Jesus spoke those words to the twelve as He sent them out on their first ministry journey. What risks, I wonder, would I be able to take if I really believed that the hairs on my head are numbered?
When I remember our fallen swallows, I come closer to daring.