July 3, 2014


This week our family took our customary summer trip to The Berry Patch across the state line in Indiana. Every year the children delight to climb under the enormous netting and into row upon row of blueberry bushes … picking and picking to the heart’s content, and enjoying the fruits of their labor, too, of course!

But this year we got a surprise treat. Perched atop one of those bushes, maybe 4 feet off the ground, was a little brown nest with three tiny baby birds wedged inside. 

What a beautiful little surprise! What a delight to hear their wee little chirping voices! And, I thought out loud, what an amazing place to be born! Somehow their mother must have spied an opening in the netting, and ducked inside the berry patch to "lay her young". And, judging from her chosen location (and from the little peck marks found here and there in the produce) I am assuming that berries are perhaps standard fare for this sort of bird. And so I say again, what a place to be born! Sweet, delicious, fresh produce everywhere, as far as the little bird’s eye can see. It would be like being born to the owner of Findlay Market, and having immediate access to all the treats inside! What a privilege!

And as I sat down to peck out the few lines that weekly fill this space, it occurred to me that this is how some of us were born, when we think of our spiritual privileges! What a blessing to born into a Bible-believing, God-fearing, Jesus-loving family – one that nurses you on “the pure milk of the word”; one that nourishes you on the fine wheat of the gospel, spoon-feeding you the message of Jesus, who is “the bread of life.” What a privilege to grow up knowing “the joyful sound” of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” … and to be raised in the shade of the “oaks of righteousness” that make up “the church of the living God.” It’s like being born into royalty, the privileges are so great!

Not everyone who reads these lines will have been born with such spiritual advantages, I know. And I don’t intend, by emphasizing them, to minimize God’s power to save people from every strata of life, and to redeem us even when our parents hand down to us a “futile way of life” instead of a godly example. Not in the least! But I do say to those of you who have been given a godly heritage … please, please do not take it for granted! Rather, eat your fill!

There’s only so long that the mother bird in the blueberry patch will feed her children from her own beak. Eventually they will have to learn to gather berries for themselves. And what a sad sight if they should never learn, or should be too lazy to put forth the effort to do so – and exponentially so since they were born on top of a gastronomic goldmine! Let us not make the same mistake! No! Rather, let us fill our bellies with all the nourishment and delights that are available to us in this “land flowing with milk and honey” that is the Church of Jesus Christ!

Being born to Christian parents and brought up in the fruitful fields of the church doesn’t automatically make us Christians, of course … nor even members of the church. These things happen when we take in Jesus, “the bread of life”, for ourselves. But, O, if the swallows are blessed (Psalm 84) to make their nests inside the temple … how much more those humans who are born with a bird’s eye view of the things and people of God, and with such ready access to “the bread of life”! Let us be sure we join with those people, by feeding on Jesus for ourselves … and on all the other spiritual delights that sprout in clusters all around us!

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