Saturday, December 18, 2010

What are you scratching for?

We live in an area called “Hardscrabble.” The name arrived with gold seekers and ranchers scrabbling to make a living off this pebbly patch of Rocky Mountain soil. That scrabble even shows between the sparse blades of winter grass in my side yard, where sparrows peck and scratch for God-knows-what.

I noticed them a few days ago, scraping at the barren, wind-blown ground, and in answer to their tireless quest I hung a new cedar bird feeder filled to the brim with wild bird food and sunflower seeds.

They ignored it.

No birds alighted the next day either, but I assured myself that like the hummingbirds homing in on their favorite nectar, so would the sparrows. Give them a day, I told myself. They will find it.

On the third day, there were still no birds at the feeder. From my window I watched them scratch the bare earth, heads down, flushing away when the dog bounded round the corner and into their foraging grounds.

And this morning they were at it again, busily scraping with their frail little feet, heads bent, pecking at imaginary seeds. I could almost hear their frantic thoughts: “There has to be something to eat in here somewhere!”

While above them hangs my feeder, still full to the brim of the choicest of fowl fare.

Will they never notice my care for them? I’ve had feeders at every home, and always the birds have found them and filled their gullets on my gifts.

It isn’t hard to see that I am much like these Hardscrabble sparrows, bent on my own way of providing what I need, unwilling to look up to another who waits close by, provision in hand. How often do I flit past my Bible, too busy to stop and feed on its life-giving words? How often do I pursue God-knows-what in my quest for sustenance?

And that is just the point: God knows what. He knows what I need and has provided it.

Why do I seek my own way instead of His?

“Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

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