Down Nature's Paths


Sparrows Again

SITTING beside the craft lodge in Kings Mountain State Park, South Carolina, my flying fingers busy with a project for the coming classtime, I became aware of bird sounds all around. They were the undertoned remarks of a group of tiny chipping sparrows that took advantage of the opportunity to search the premises for food since all the campers were at the water front. They worked the edges of the volley ball court, then moved on down the slope under the trees around the craft house. One little fellow hopped to within a yard or so of my feet. One or two quick glances in my direction, then he went over every inch of the ground for crumbs or insects.

Watching, I wondered. If I had come into the presence of a living being as diverse in appearance as I was from him, and as much bigger as I was bigger than he, would I have ventured as near to that thing as he came near to giant me? I reckon not. Yet that little bit of feathered vitality, scarcely bigger than my two thumbs, trusted me enough to come within reach of a blow. Or did he? Maybe he knew he had wings, and I could no more have caught him than I could fly myself. Anyway, he came near, and I sat entranced. Later, in my class, Jane Cutter, of Chattanooga, told me of "Tommy" Titmouse whom she taught to eat from her hand, and who scolded vigorously if she did not come to his terms of time and amount of food. He felt himself quite within his rights to ask and seek, expecting to find and receive.

Such trustfulnesses are little glimpses of how it must have been in Eden before the shadow of man's sinning fell on the innocent creatures. No doubt in the new earth these tiny ones will have a confiding trust in the benevolence of the larger creatures. In the meantime we who are not really so big ourselves, except in our own opinions, can follow the example of the little birds and trust the benevolence of our heavenly Father, who opens His bountiful hand and satisfies the desire of every living creature.

Not only the chipping sparrows but their more robustious namesakes teach us lessons of trust. Did you ever see an English sparrow moping because he is not popular? The Creator planted the instincts of life in those little beings; and live they will, whatever the buffetings of adverse circumstances.

Perhaps one reason God chose sparrows as symbols of His own children is that He wants us to go ahead undaunted by the dislike the world may feel for us, or the downright hatred it may express for those who will try to live godly. In the eyes of the world those whom God calls "saints" may appear as "sparrows." We need not fret. God knows; God cares. As my friend, Helene Suche Wollschlaeger, has beautifully written:

"Like the sparrows, God's children should be everywhere. Like the sparrows, we may not always be welcome; but if we are truly like sparrows, we will not worry about that. Ears accustomed to eloquent, flowery sermons may find our constant emphasis on the second coming of Christ and the immutability of God's law as monotonous as the unvarying chirping of the sparrows. But should that stop our song? Fashionably dressed worshipers in imposing edifices may regard our simple houses of worship as void of attraction as the modest brown dress of sparrows, in comparison with the colorful beauty of the bluebird or the striking garb of the scarlet tanager. But as followers of the meek and lowly One, who outwardly had 'no beauty that we should desire Him,' should we not be as simple and unpretentious in our dress, our homes, and our churches?

"The time is soon coming when those who refuse to disobey God's law will be considered even greater pests than sparrows are now. Professed lovers of God will be admonished to destroy them. Governments will make laws to get rid of them. Men esteemed in business, professional, and religious circles will, as Satan's agents, lay traps to ensnare them. In a last futile effort to starve them out, the world will decree that they shall neither buy nor sell, not even to secure their most necessary food. When that time comes, as come it will, may we like the sparrows be able to `sing our humble song without a fear,' knowing that we serve a God who notices even sparrows."