I sat at our kitchen table drinking a cup of tea this morning, and while assessing the status of the deck and backyard after an inordinate amount of rain this past weekend, I noticed two small brown thrashers hopping around. I didn’t pay too much attention until they flitted close enough to the back door to see that the female had a piece of pine straw in her beak. A second later she disappeared into the top of a large open bag of charcoal, then emerged quickly and flew away. It wasn’t long until she was back with more building material to stash in what appeared to be the perfect spot to establish a nest. I mean, it’s a sheltered, on a covered deck away from the heat of the sun and drenching rain… what better place could there be for a bird to hatch her babies!?!
But once I realized what that bird was doing, I was determined to stop her from this home building project… and that’s not because I don’t like birds on our deck necessarily. I actually enjoy watching a mother bird tend to her babies. The reason I was so purposeful about interrupting her campaign is that I knew something she didn’t. While it seemed to her to be a great place to raise her chicks, she had chosen a spot that was too low to the ground and would actually put her babies in extreme danger… specifically from a very determined and curious over-sized Yorkie named Jake who has a history of nest raids and at least four confirmed baby bird kills.
So as I closed up the charcoal bag, making the area as inhospitable as I could (while the bird chittered in protest from the opposite side of the deck railing), I couldn’t help but see a spiritual lesson in this inconsequential event. How many times do we, based on limited knowledge, set our minds on what seems to be an excellent course of action and begin investing all our efforts to bring it to fruition without ever realizing that we’re unable (or unwilling) to see hidden dangers? We pray hard for God to remove the obstacles from our path, but could it be that sometimes the hindrances that appear might actually be put in place by Him in order to save us from things we can’t anticipate? Instead of grumbling and complaining when things don’t go our way, maybe frustration should be a clarion call to seek God more diligently and trust that He knows all things including how, where and when we should move forward.
While it’s often wise to engage some critical thinking and scripture admonishes us to seek wise counsel, the book of Proverbs makes it clear that human judgment is not sufficient to stay firmly on God’s path. Chapter 14, verse 12 warns us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Only three verses later, Solomon alerts us to other pitfalls in rash decision making. “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. (Prov. 14:15-16)
God warns believers against relying on what “appears to be right” while neglecting His revealed truth. That’s because no person in this world has the full picture of what’s really taking place at any given moment nor can anyone fathom the ramifications of their actions or see all the shortcomings in their plans. Apart from the wisdom of God’s Word and the discernment of the Holy Spirit, even the most informed and experienced person often cannot figure out what’s truly the best course to pursue. And like the bird on our deck, relying on our own wisdom can leave us facing a serious and deadly threat that we couldn’t have ever foreseen.
So, if you are faced with a decision today and are considering your options, don’t trust yourself. Submit your plans to God in prayer. Search the scriptures for principles of wisdom, and wait patiently for the Lord to reveal the right place to build your future. (Ps. 27:14; Ps. 32:8)