A few afternoons ago, I listened enthralled to a back yard warbler perched upon our neighbour’s tree exuberantly singing its God-song.
As I listened, I was overcome with joy. It was an entrancing experience, a spiritually blissful moment.
I was in what the Celtic Christians of old called a ‘thin place’, a numinous moment in time when the curtain was drawn back and the created world mysteriously merges with the invisible spiritual world, and God’s presence and His purposes take centre stage.
I suddenly realized I was no longer just listening to pure melodic notes. This little creature was God’s project. (Didn’t Jesus say our heavenly Father sees the little sparrow fall? Matthew 10:29)
The songbird had been created for a purpose – to sing joyfully, and in so doing bless the heart of God. It was reflecting the glory of its song back upon its Creator and was sharing its musical artistry with the watching world, inviting all who heard to experience God’s glory in that moment.
So it was not just a back yard summer moment; it was a spiritual moment, a sacred place where I became aware that this was God’s warbler, reflecting to me God’s creative genius, sharing with anyone “who had eyes to see and ears to hear” the glory of God’s purposes in this small slice of creation, just me and the songbird.
In the Genesis creation account, we read, “And God said, ‘let birds fly above the earth, across the expanse of the sky…and every winged bird according to its kind.’ And then the writer says, “God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:20-21)
This little warbler was ‘good’ because it perfectly reflected the genius and power of God and the glory and purpose of God. It was if the songbird was saying, “I’m here to sing for God and for you. That’s why He made me. This is what I do. I love to sing my joyful song for Him, and for the world He created.”
And in this moment of warbler-induced bliss, the epiphany emerged. I felt God saying to me,
“See how this songbird sings for me and brings me joy by fulfilling its purpose in creation. This is what I want you to do. I want your life to sing for me. You will do that when you become all I created you to be and partner with me by bringing my joy into the world.
Just like the warbler brings me glory by fulfilling the purpose for which I created it, so too you are an agent of my glory when you fulfill the purpose for which I created you in my image.
I want you to reflect my glory to a watching world. That’s why I created you. That’s why I’m transforming you “into the likeness of Christ,” filling your unique life with grace and, mercy, with love and joy.”
We live in a world filled with nihilism, cynicism and the pursuit of fleeting pleasure. Many are like lemmings falling over the cliff, mistakenly trying to create their own meaning as they struggle with existential angst, wondering what it’s all about. Sadly, for many, in the words of Shakespeare, “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Contrast that meaninglessness with the stirring words spoken by Eric Liddell in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, “God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run fast I feel His pleasure.”
God always had a plan. It was not for us to create our own meaning and make our own purpose, but instead, to discover the meaning He has given to us, and to live out the purpose for which He created us using the gifts and opportunities He provides. That is how we sing our song for Him.
Like the warbler, God wants us to glorify Him and experience His joy, by fulfilling His purpose for us in this world. Didn’t Jesus say, “I want my joy to be in you that your joy may be complete”?
This summer, when the pace slows down, and the burdens are lifted for a season, find a moment when you can hear God’s song singing to you, telling you that,
“He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
For all the songbirds…