Have you seen the new exhibit at the Pitkin County Library? It’s not fiction. It’s not rare books. It’s not teen fantasy. It’s a family of great horned owls perched high in a pine tree outside the library. A hand-made sign marks the best viewing spot and even offers the librarians’ help in finding the owls!
For the past week or so my husband, Richard, and I have been going out after dinner to see what’s going on with the owl family. From time to time we see the large, handsome male owl perched high in a tree watching over his family. He comes and goes, likely bringing food to her. But ALWAYS, there is Mom, sitting on the nest for she-doesn’t-know-how-long keeping those eggs warm. Day and night she’s there. Through all our recent snow storms, she’s been there. Keeping those eggs warm.
As I hear the hail rapping against my windows, I think of the owl. Keeping those eggs warm. One can’t help but be impressed by her tenacity and patience. She doesn’t know the outcome. How many more days? How many will live? Are there predators around? Yet she sits. Keeping those eggs warm.
Jesus spoke often about patience and its decisive role in our walk with God. He says, in Luke21:19, “By your patience you will gain your souls.” (NKJV) Not by good deeds alone, not by courage, not even by studying Scripture. By patience. It occurs to me that that may be because so many other attributes are required for patience. It takes courage. It takes faith. It takes love. It takes wisdom. Perhaps that is why Jesus says we can “bear fruit with patient endurance.” (Luke 8:15 NRSV)
The fact that the owl mother can’t know the outcome of her vigil brings to mind another aspect of our walk with God. We must wait for God’s timing in all things and “let patience have her perfect work.” (James 1:4 KJV) Isaiah says “Those that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NRSV) Today, it is almost counter-cultural to wait. But that is what God requires of us. Waiting for His perfect work.
So, do stop by the library and visit with the mother owl. She’ll be there. Keeping those eggs warm.
The very essence of God is love. We learn this in scripture and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because God is love, our living God is one of change. I cannot find one story in scripture in which God says to a person, “You have it all down. There is no more room for growth and nothing left to learn.”
God wants more for each of us as we journey through life and He loves us too much to let us stay just as we are in every way. While sometimes difficult, painful, and confusing, God invites us into changes that will lead to a clearer sense of purpose, greater joy, peace, healing, and a life that increasingly becomes about loving God, others, and ourselves.
There are countless examples of God changing people from the inside out in scripture. You might even say that the Old and New Testaments are about how God changes people in every conceivable way.
For example, God changed Paul as described in the Book of Acts, Chapter 9. God transformed Paul from a self-righteous, overly certain, angry, militant enforcer to a man that spread the love and forgiveness of Jesus across the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. It was no less than a 180 degree turn around.
God changed Peter as described in the Gospels and the Book of Acts. Peter’s life was about running a fishing business. Jesus asked Peter to follow him. Over the subsequent months, Peter’s priorities, values, world-view, purpose, and self-definition fundamentally shifted.
God changed Mary Magdalene. She lived a life of utter torment and despair until Jesus radically altered her by liberating her from destroying spirits within. God changed Rahab. She made a living selling her body to men until God intervened and gave her a new calling in life.
While God does respond to prayer and helps us with the changes we desire, what is good news is that God often changes people who are not asking for anything or seeking any change. Sometimes God overrides our plans and our ways of seeing and doing things.
God also changes people we think will never change. The story of Paul is a great example as we can be certain that few expected Paul would ever be different than the vicious man he was.
God is a God who interrupts us sometimes and often life’s inconveniences, frustrations, and unexpected events can be God’s way of moving us toward some needed change. If you look at the stories of transformation in scripture, it is evident that change is an ongoing process as God continually works through us.
The Good News in all of this is that God does, can, and will change us. For those of us who know we don’t have it all down and understand we need some changes in various areas of life, this indeed is very Good News.
I invite you this week to explore needed changes in your life. To ask questions such as, “If I am honest with myself, I know I need God’s help to change…” Or, “What changes have I been resisting and why?” Or, “How do I need God to break into my life?” Or, “What might all the interruptions in my plans lately be telling me?”
Whatever questions you take the time to explore, know that God loves you and that God is acting in our lives even when we don’t sense His presence.
Love and prayers