“Dad, the two most effective weapons Satan has are Fear and Worry. He knows people are addicted to both and as long as they are distracted, he wins. Don’t let him win. God has His children securely in His Hand”. Love you, Braden
“Thanks for checking me on this. I look forward to experiencing Heaven. No worry. Fear long forgotten”. Braden’s Dad
Ever wake at a pre-dawn hour when the rest of the world is dead asleep? Your mind rolling over and over about something all-important? It’s always 3AM for some reason and it feels like swimming in quicksand. Trying to solve or “fix” something through worrying. Often, it’s some minor thing no one else would give a single thought. Still, I’ve come to learn by talking with people, most of us humans do this. Well, I guess there’s comfort in knowing we are in good company as members of the 3AM worry club. Not really.
My twin brother and I got our first guns around age ten. In west Texas, there wasn’t a lot of talk about “Shooting your eye out”. Boys fully expected to get their first BB gun before age 11 and within the next year or so to promote to a .22 rifle, a 20-gauge shotgun, advancing to a 12-gauge, and ultimately to a deer rifle. The progression was almost certain, Every boy got their guns.
Upon receipt of our first gun, the immediate question was, “What can we kill?” Killing in this sense wasn’t necessarily a literal term. It could just be a Coke bottle, a telephone wire insulator, or another inanimate target. Still, after killing so many boring inanimate objects, the next target became something that breathed.
With our brand new Daisy BB guns in hand on a freezing west Texas Christmas morning, we were off searching to shoot. Anything would do. I recall a lone frozen bare pecan tree about a hundred yards south of our house. Inside our home it was warm and colorfully decorated. Outside, the world was gray and freezing, but the warmth of anticipation insulated us from the frigid air. I put the butt of the rifle on the ground while pulling the air pump with everything I had and looked towards the barren frozen tree. A single scrawny little bird sat alone high in its branches. The thing was so small, it was hard to tell if it was a bird or a dead pecan. I aimed carefully and tried to account for the north breeze. “I’ll miss, but what if I don’t? What then? Will it matter to me? Will its parents miss him? What about his brothers and sisters, or his kids?” (Keep in mind I was seven and hunter’s instinct kicked in later).
I closed my eyes and squeezed the trigger. It was just a plain every day little worthless sparrow. No one would ever miss it. The BB’s power weakened quickly in the wind and the lucky little thing flew away, possibly to return to its family of hungry babies or to be shot later by a more accurate marksman. It didn’t matter, after all it was just a sparrow.
First Baptist Church of Brownfield, Texas. I can’t describe a more traditional place of worship. We had one Sunday morning service, unlike many churches these days. Each service began with a carefully measured twenty minutes of hymns. We only sang the first, second, and fourth verses. That third verse somehow got mysteriously lost and trust me, we kids (and I suspect many adults) were silently thankful.
There were a number of traditional hymnal songs which even today bring back instant visual images. “I Surrender All”, “Amazing Grace”, “Oh, How I Love Jesus” and many others. At a Brownfield Church of Christ funeral ceremony for my great aunt, the choir of 90+ year old singers nasally whined the a cappella version of “In the Garden”. To this day, I can’t smell a rose or go to a funeral home without being hit with song ringing in my ears. That would be a sweet sound only a loving Father could appreciate! Still, there were other church songs I recall in a more hopeful way. One that stands out is titled “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”. These lyrics still return when I’m struggling with anxious thoughts, and even sometimes nightmares.
Anxiety is a problem growing with lighting speed in this fast paced, over-scheduled, social media driven world, affecting millions. Recently, a study indicated today’s teens face a level of high anxiety that during the first half of the Twentieth century would have three out of five of them placed under a doctor’s care . Psychology Today recognizes an emerging epidemic of anxiety in today’s children and teens and adults. In all of the “noise” of the world, in the carefully crafted images of social media, in unrealistic expectations, too often we see ourselves as a “sparrow”, without significant value. Not enough, uncertain about our purpose. Feeling isolated, unseen or un-noticed.
Today is Easter Saturday. If you haven’t read Cathy Speed’s post on this day two years ago, I encourage you to do so. It still comforts and amazes me how her message stands the test of time. Last evening marked the day Christ was crucified and before that (perhaps 3AM?) Jesus actually sweat blood while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. That event and that image of God’s only Son praying for peace and assurance are confirming today. Imploring God to pass the cup from Him for the final task to finish His work here can’t be compared to the worries or fears any of us have today. My belief is the Bible registered that story just as Christ was leaving to return home so you and I can be assured we are not alone, that life is temporary, and we have purpose right here and right now.
Reader: In Matthew 10:29-31, God’s Word tells us that He even watches over the sparrows in this world and how much more He cares for His children. We are invited to “be anxious for nothing”, but instead to bring our worries and our fears to Him, and to find rest. My prayer is for whoever may be reading this today and feels worthless or lost, that He will be your source of lasting peace and purpose. Amen.
His Eye is On the Sparrow
“Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven, home
When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me”