A Story About a Mother Bird

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Hebrews 12:11

Once upon a time, there was a mother bird…a little nuthatch.

(Why a nuthatch? Why not? I like them. They have cute little heads, neat coloring, and small, round bellies. They are different. Frankly, I don’t think we talk about nuthatches enough. Oh, we hear plenty about chickadees, sparrows, cardinals, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds…but no one really talks about nuthatches so today, my mother bird is a nuthatch!)

She had two baby birds. The first baby bird was very active, always wanted to learn how to fly, didn’t want help to learn how to fly, and then, when he found out it was difficult to fly, do you know what that baby bird decided to do? He decided it was better to walk and hop, even though the mother bird told him that the cat might catch him if he never learned how to fly. But that baby bird knew more than the mother bird and refused to be told what to do. And the father bird told the mother bird she was pushing too much on the baby bird.

The second baby bird was not as active and listened to the mother bird. She took her time and worked at learning how to fly. She didn’t care if it was hard work. She practiced as much as she could and eventually she learned how to fly. Unfortunately, she flew away from the nest and the mother bird was sad. Oh, the second baby bird came back from time to time, only to show off her flying, which made the mother bird happy but left her feeling isolated and lonely.

The first baby bird saw the flying sibling and felt jealous. His friends told him that he didn’t need to fly; hopping and walking were just fine. Instead of trying to learn how to fly, he refused to even try anymore. He listened to his friends and kept walking and hopping, despite his mother’s warnings of the danger that lingered ahead.

The cat captured him and wounded the baby bird.

Another bird criticized the mother bird. “Why didn’t you teach him how to fly? This is all your fault. You need to apologize to the baby bird for not supporting him.”

The mother bird refused, knowing that she had tried to teach the baby bird, but he had refused to learn. She said that the baby bird needed to learn how to fly, otherwise he had to leave the nest.

The baby bird was angry with her and left. The other bird let the baby bird move into his nest so that he could console the baby bird and, maybe, teach him how to fly.  However, the baby bird still did not want to learn how to fly and let the other bird nurse his wounds from the cat. The mother bird was distraught, hardly sleeping at night and worrying to the point of becoming sick. Still, she knew that if she gave in and let the baby bird keep walking and hopping instead of flying that he would get wounded again from the cat. She also knew that she could not force him to learn how to fly…nor could she let him continue hopping and walking, not from her nest. 

This is a lesson that goes far beyond a mother bird and baby bird. It happens with friends, family, neighbors, and even co-workers. Sometimes we do not have control over things that happen in life. Sometimes we have to take a step back and let people we love fail and fall. We be there to pick them up, but we cannot always rescue them from their own decisions…good, bad, or…indifferent. It hurts to stand back and watch someone we care about fall, waiting for them to hit rock bottom. Sometimes other people can criticize that we are not doing more. But to do more only enables the initial problem. Like that mother nuthatch, we can only have faith that the afflicted, suffering, and fallen will survive and reach out for our assistance. Only then can we take their hand to help them stand back up.

I suppose that’s a lot like God. He gives us all of the equipment to fly, like our little nuthatch. Some learn how to fly and do great things with it. Others do not. But He has everlasting patience.  When we do not listen to Him, we often suffer the consequences. God might not swoop down and rescue us, for it is important that, just like little children and baby birds, we learn to reap what we sow. However, as soon as we ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance, He is there to pick up the pieces. He will not always carry us away from troubled times, but He can carry us through them…if we ask.