A Bird, My Grandmother and the Gospel

There are many things that my grandmother taught me: how to shell peas, how to pick the right switch, how to be gentle with puppies and how to appreciate the sights and sounds of birds. This is only a sampling but each of these holds a treasure chest full of memories that makes my mind soar into the past with all the smells, images and deeply learned lessons that come to a boy who had a grandmother like mine.

Today, I was reminded of the love she had and passed on to me in simply watching and listening to birds. I remember sitting on her front porch watching cars whiz by while we strained to hear and distinguish one bird’s call from another. She had a little book filled with pictures and facts about birds and I would sit on that porch hoping I would eventually see them all.

This fond memory has come home to me recently when I discovered that a bird had laid eggs on the ground just outside my church office. Most days, I go outside and walk around to get some fresh air and to think through God’s Word or to pray and a few weeks ago while walking around I noticed a very loud bird acting strange.

It was a Killdeer and this bird appeared to be wounded in some way. When I rounded the corner of the building the bird came out into the open, squatted down onto the ground, turned her wings upside down and began to shake and cry as though she was injured. I walked closer to see what was going on and she got up walked a few feet forward and began to do the same thing. It was a pretty incredible display.

The truth is, there was nothing wrong with the bird but she really wanted me to think that she was hurt so that in the event that I was a predator I would come for her as an easy meal rather than to find what she was really hiding. What she was hiding, or trying to draw my attention away from was a ground nest with four eggs in it.

This was remarkable! This mother bird was actually offering up her own life to me in order to protect the lives of her unhatched chicks and she never tired of doing so. Over the last few weeks I have found myself often walking around to check on the bird and her eggs just to make sure everything was alright and each time I saw the same display.

Now, this naturally led me to think of my grandmother who taught me to enjoy just sitting to watch and listen to birds. But this display carried my mind even further than my beloved grand-mother, this reminded me of Jesus who not only offered up himself for me but also willingly endured the suffering of shame and death on the cross to bear the wrath of God that I deserved. This bird reminded me of Jesus and His cross.

OK, so if you know anything about this bird you know the illustration breaks down because every time I would get close to her she would jump up and fly off, she wasn’t really willing to die for her chicks, only to distract me from them. But, Jesus did die for me. He didn’t simply alter the path of punishment he absorbed it in his flesh for all those who believe. He bore my guilt and offered his life as a ransom for my sin.

God made him who knew no sin to become sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God – 2 Cor 5:21

It’s been weeks since I first discovered that bird and her eggs and today I am proud to say that all her hard work has paid off. As I was walking around I noticed that she was still at her old tricks but this time she wasn’t protecting eggs, she had four little baby birds following her around.


About Justin Wheeler

Justin Wheeler is the preaching pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX. He is married to Leigh and has three children.
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