Batteries and birds

Pastor Tom Jeske

Whoever designed this big builders’-supply store did not want me to conclude that I am ever finished shopping. As the checkout line channels me past a display of flashlights, I wonder, “Am I sure I have enough?” A few feet farther along, I am cleverly positioned in front of thousands of batteries. This time there’s a sign, “Are you sure you have enough?” My insecurity is being manipulated for profit.

I wonder what would happen if I asked the lady in front of me, “Excuse me, ma’am. Could you tell me please, what’s the purpose of a flashlight?” Might this weary shopper respond, “Umm . . . to use up batteries”?

While I’m waiting, I wonder how it would sound to God when a human being says, “My purpose in life is to use up batteries.” After all, aren’t food and clothing just fuel, a source of energy—like flashlight batteries? But my insecurity makes me worry: “I run on food and clothing. My car gulps gasoline. The bank demands my mortgage payment on time. So yes, my goal this week is to earn money to ‘buy more batteries.’ ”

If I could just get out of this store long enough to listen. Jesus once said that a bird could teach me a lesson about worry, about acquiring and possessing.

What’s the purpose of any creature’s life? Survival? Look at the birds. Do swallows sow seeds in spring? Will that crow cultivate them? Can that red-tailed hawk harvest the crops in fall?

Ask yourself what message it sends to your Father when you worry. Isn’t it that you doubt his power or desire to supply you?

A casket rests under a tent in the cemetery. What of that person’s former stress and worry?

Jesus, in sharpest contrast, voluntarily gave his life away. If surviving for one more day had been his goal, he’d never have yielded to the cross. But he was doing what his Father asked—and what we needed.

When a flashlight fails, it goes into the landfill. When a bird dies, it crumbles into dust. But Jesus’ body did not see corruption, for his Father gave life to him. The Father decided that his child should live. And he did.

This indestructible Jesus now calls you to trust his Father as your own. That means you’re permitted as much stress about food and clothing as Jesus had. No more worrying about the fuel you require as you serve your neighbor and your Savior.

“Look at the birds,” says Jesus. Can a Canada goose keep his extras in little blue silos? Do sparrows speculate on grain futures?

Ask yourself if your worry ever changed anything for the better. Did it bring back anything you lost or wasted? Did it buy you more time? Did it make you more fun to be with?

Your Creator supplies his creatures with what they need. And I know you’re thinking about this: when your tour of duty is carried out, when your tired body rests in the ground, God has decided to give you life yet again in his bright country.

God somehow daily provides for and protects his birds. He will never forget about his own dear children, adopted at the price of Jesus’ trust and blood.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26,27).

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Living Hope Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE