Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hummingbird Brain

Last fall I watched the hummingbirds fight and bicker over our two feeders we have out in our garden as one fought for his territorial food source.  These birds have no concept that these feeders will not go empty because they don't understand that there is a human who makes sure there is always bountiful food available, enough to feed many hummingbirds.  I laughed at the irony of this habitual behavior but was suddenly struck with the realization that I have the same problem when it comes to God's provision for my life.   It seemed I too was unable to grasp the concept that God is always at work providing for me. (ouch!)  He, being my Heavenly Father, willingly, joyfully and freely is giving me what I need each and every day.  But here I stood no longer laughing at the birds, realizing I was being a total bird brain! I, like the hummingbird, was trying to protect what I had been given because I did not trust God to meet the needs in my life...all areas of my life.

Lack of faith? Maybe.  Actually I think it was more a lack of understanding, at least in my case and maybe in many of us.  What I had been taught by experience was that I could not trust in anyone for what I needed or I would be open to neglect or disappointment or hurt. Who wants any of that?  Not me!   Even though I wanted to be able to trust someone else I found people always failed (a sad truth) and have held onto that belief in all my adult relationships...even my relationship with God. So at this point my ears were burning and my heart convicted by the revealed illustration before me.  I had little faith in God's ability to provide for me through people or otherwise.  Even after learning what Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 and Luke 12 of the Bible as He states that our Heavenly Father who leads the birds to their food and clothes the lilies of the fields, that this same God also knows our needs and will provide for us, I just didn't get it.  I didn't know what trusting God for these things looked like.

Because of this inability to trust God in the area of provision I often acted an awful lot like those birds, always flitting around trying to make ends meet, overworking myself really and fueling the fires of anxiety within myself.  I would get very defensive towards others if they got in my way or messed with my plans, at times feeling the need to have complete control because I knew things wouldn't turn out the way "I" thought they needed to otherwise.  This birdbrain thinking was most evident when it came to my attitude about money and affected a whole lot of other areas of life. (big ouch!) So lets get back to the birds for a minute here.

The hummingbirds seem to put up with my presence in the garden near their feeder except for the odd times  when I gather the feeders in to clean and refill them.  You should hear the scolding I get.  "Chit chit chit" I get near their food, even getting dive-bombed if they are feeling especially protective that day.  My worried complaints and propensity towards sudden outburst of anger when feeling afraid about money or losing control over circumstances is not unlike this bird behavior.  Yep its official...I was being a real birdbrain.  Ugh!  Everything was fine in my world until God needed to mess with my comfort zone so He could get His work accomplished...just like when I went to mess with the feeders so the birds could have good clean food. I acted exactly like the hummingbird!

The timing of this lesson could not have come at a better time in my life as our household had been facing a longstanding lean season at a time when my body had also became hobbled with pain keeping me from being the driving workforce I used to be. I was stripped of things I could put my trust in and forced to rely on God's providential supply which He would demonstrate to me was never late and always exactly what I needed.  Even if I might not think it was exactly what I needed at the time I learned it was "all" I really needed.  So I've had to learn to let go of control over things being done my way by me and control over my needs being met by my own strength.  I've had to learn that I didn't need what I thought I did and that if something really needed getting done it would get done in God's timing not mine.  That's a lot of letting go, let me tell you.

I know I am not along in this illustration of how much we act like hummingbirds in our angst over things that make us feel safe and secure is pretty profound if you really think about it.  I see it in people in differing measures all the time.  We take careful stock of our resources; money, food, housing, clothing, health, relationships, determine in our own understanding what we can live with and can't live without.  If we are not trusting God, not understanding where our source truly only leads to the anxiety, presumption, fear and even selfishness. It brings us to the point where we stand over it protectively and eventually causes us to lash out at others because we are afraid of losing it, of it being taken over by others birdbrains, of it not being there when we want or need it or better put...think we need it.

So the case in point...hummingbird angst over their food and my/our behavior.   We watch these birds aggressively protecting their food source battle in aerial assault with loud voices until one comes out the victor and owner of the food when all could eat freely.  We've yet to see anyone get struck by a beak during these bouts but they seem completely capable of doing it at times.  Its not that way in human relationships though is it?  People are always wounded.

Finally, it seems birds are pretty funny in how they have their ways but it seems everyone gets fed.  Isn't that amazing?!  Their habitual protecting of these feeders is not born out of fear or selfishness but their very nature so they can survive within the given range of "natural" food sources they are given and so all of them get to eat eventually. What serves them well in their natural habitat looks foolish at the feeders.  And aren't we the same too?  What serves us well when we are walking only in natural worldly knowledge looks foolish when we begin to walk in the knowledge of God and His truth.  It is walking counter-intuitively as my good friend Rae likes to say and which is true.  Trusting God is a counter intuitive act.

When we exibit these seemingly same character traits it is not out of instinct as it is in the birds, but rather out of a lack of trusting our Heavenly Father to be able to supply for our needs. This is not to say God supplies all of our wants which we often confuse with true needs and which are endless.  (The marketing gurus of our day are masters at fueling the fires want in our hearts and minds.)  This provision by God brings us to love Him even more as like a loving father this provision will demonstrates His love as a father over us and we will begin to understand more fully how deep His love for us is.  I recognize so many attitudes in myself that I learned from my days of not trusting Jesus and it seems each new circumstance is another opportunity to learn trust God more completely.  Our God provides what we need liberally without reservation.  Its funny how God's provision is now what I want more than ever..those demonstrations of God's loving provision for me. I still get tempted to act like a birdbrain but now I have a reminder of this truth lovingly given to me every time I look at the hummingbird feeders and especially when I see the hummingbirds fighting over feeding territory even though there is no need to.  Guess some things God sees the need to remind us of daily...and Lord knows I need it some days.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

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  1. You have quite the gift of words my friend! I have really enjoyed reading your blog today!
    Hugs, Kim : )

  2. "Trusting God is a counter intuitive act." So well put. I just found you today, and not by accident! God brought me here to show me that I am not the only bird brain flitting around. I KNOW that I am going to love reading your blogs, past and future. We are kindred spirits. :)

  3. So happy you found the blog and am thankful it encouraged you in the way it did. God is so amazing in how he uses things sometimes. Good to know another "birdbrain" who is trusting God.