"...it was built on rock."
"So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock." (Matthew 7:24)
On Monday morning, the day after Easter, I stopped briefly at the church and was told by a parishoner that a bird was trapped in the downspout and was unsuccessfully struggling to fly back up the pipe to freedom. I began to wonder about how to mount a rescue operation. No sooner had I hung up the phone from a rescue consultation with a church trustee when I noticed a similar sound coming from a downspout at the opposite end of the church building.
The downspouts were securely riveted together, so I drilled out the rivets, disconnected the pieces, and looked inside hoping to find the birds healthy enough to fly away. In both cases I got a momentary glance at the bird before it zoomed away to share its adventures with its high-flying buddies. What I noticed in both pipes was also interesting. Both birds were sitting in nests inside the downspouts. Apparently both birds had built their nests over the holes in the top of the downspouts and then plummeted into the holes when they sat on the nests. The wise robin in the picture built its nest in the crook of the downspout (actually the same pipe that one of the birds fell through) and will most likely remain there until its eggs are hatched.
In the quote from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was trying to tell the disciples that it does make a difference where we build our house (or nest). Jesus said a house built on rock would stand, but a house built on sand would fall when harsh conditions arose. Focus your life on a foundation you can trust, said Jesus, God's word and way of life.
All of us probably remember when we were teens and we were told that if we hung out with the wrong crowd (i.e. built our nest in the wrong place) we would begin to follow the ways of that crowd. We also probably remember answering with a resounding, "No, not me!"
Unfortunately, the statistics tell us that our parents were right. If we build our nest with a crowd that is engaged in various sorts of unhealthy behaviors, we are very likely to eventually fall into those unhealthy practices. Adults are no different. Ask anyone in a recovery program for drugs or alcohol and they will tell you that one of the best ways to return to their addiction is to return to the crowd that is using the unhealthy substance.
We need to be conscious about where we're building our nests and deliberately make decisions to build on solid footing. Too often we passively fall into unhealthy ways that others are touting as "okay" because we want to belong or the behavior is just downright fun. Everything looked just fine to the birds who built the nests on the top of the downspouts - until they tried to sit in the nests. Then it was too late and they fell to their (almost) doom. It is important for us to remember that God has given us the gift of choice and shown us the places and ways to build healthy, safe nests. I pray that God will open my eyes when I'm building nests over holes, and help me make the choices that will give me a safe nest to lay my head. How about you?
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