A safe refuge
By A.Ray Lee
In the biblical account of God’s work of creation, we read that on the fifth day, he spoke into existence fowl of the air to fly in the open spaces of the firmament. Having done so, he commanded them to “multiply in the earth.” The number of birds around my yard is only a small part of the multitude of species that inhabit the world. True to God’s purposes for them, they take seriously his command. At nesting time they flurry around busily searching out a safe place to build their nest.
This spring once again I watched the process. Mockingbirds chose a safe haven in a large tree where hidden by thick foliage they could view their surroundings without being seen. Acrobatic little hummingbirds were impossible to trace to their nests. After suddenly appearing at the feeders and just as suddenly disappearing they carried sweet nectar to their little ones. All the birds seemed intent on building in a safe place with the exception of the dumb killdeer who insisted on laying her eggs in rocks on the driveway.
I watched as two perky little wrens flitted around in the carport searching for a safe refuge in which to build their nest and hatch their babies. They examined a bench covered with dirty old shoes and boots. They checked out a rag mop leaning against the wall, and other discarded items, before choosing a basket of flowering verbena hanging near the hummingbird feeders.
Soon the little nesters tunneled beneath the colorful blossoms. Hidden by the verdant foliage they began weaving a bed in what appeared to be a safe sanctuary. To keep from disturbing the pair I stopped watering the flowers. The result was predictable. They died and settled in the basket leaving the nest exposed. Even though the little hen had already laid her eggs she abandoned them. After a few days, fresh plants were rooted in the basket and are now blooming profusely, but the wrens have not been seen.
Early one morning last week, as I was trying to jump-start my day from the patio, I glanced toward the new blossoms and wondered if my little friends had found a refuge somewhere else. Suddenly, I remembered a chapel service from my long ago seminary days. President Edelman had selected Psalm 84:3 as the text for his sermon. “The sparrow hath found a house, and a swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O God of hosts.”
The Psalmist seems to suggest there was an innate understanding of those birds. They sensed a refuge could be found at the altar. Were they smarter than us? We live in a confused and dangerous world. We need a sanctuary to which we can turn in difficult times. The only safe refuge is found in God’s presence. Have you visited his altar recently?