Growing up, my world was filled with songbirds. Along with the saucy blue jay, I loved to watch the antics of the black-capped chickadee. And who could forget the stately cardinals setting off their glorious red crests against a snow-covered pine bough?
I loved to be surprised by an elegant cedar waxwing or an oriole ablaze with orange. Or I might catch sight of a red-winged blackbird atop a bullrush at the marsh’s edge. Less frequently, a scarlet tanager brightened our feeder or a goldfinch was seen pecking at a sunflower.
Of course, robin red breast, harbinger of spring, could be frequently observed in a tug-of-war with a juicy worm. When my dad tried to coax me out of bed with “the early bird gets the worm,” I wondered, Who wants to eat worms?
Sometimes I might hear the rat-a-tat-tat of a downy woodpecker high in an old tree, providing the percussion section to the songbirds’ chorus, or watch a hovering ruby-throated hummingbird suck nectar from a salvia bloom. But always, always, whoever else showed up to greet me every morning, there were the ubiquitous song sparrows, dressed in humble earthtones, ready to defer to larger birds.
According to birdfact.com, there are more than 10,000 species of birds worldwide, with a population of 50 billion. And the most numerous breed? You guessed it: the common house sparrow, of which there are 1.6 billion.
Among his various evils, Chairman Mao ordered the sparrows slaughtered in China during “The Great Leap Forward” because they dared nibble the grain. But then it was discovered that, while mom and pop sparrow ate grain, the kids liked bugs. Without their pest control, harvests were devastated, and 35 million died of starvation. A bit late, Mao ordered that sparrows be protected. Despots make such pathetic gods.
The sparrow features prominently in the Bible. Jesus said His Father attended every sparrow’s funeral: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Mt 10:29-31)
With such a masterly statement, Jesus makes us both a little more humble and a lot more hopeful. Sparrows have His attention, and so do you. In fact, the Savior links Himself with us by the simile that He is “like a sparrow alone on the housetop.” (Ps 102:7) Have you ever seen a sparrow alone? I haven’t. But that’s His point. For us He “endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself” (Heb 12:3). Rejected by His townspeople, despised by the religious leaders, abandoned even by His disciples, and ignored by millions today, still He made His way to Calvary and died there for this poor, broken, sinful race.
I’m like a sparrow — often feeling common, ordinary, overlooked. Not so! God not only keeps track of every hair but all your tears as well. (see Ps 56:8) He cares about you.
And Jesus is like a sparrow — alone in His sorrow to bear the sin of the world. Here’s His offer: “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (Jn 5:24)
Jabe Nicholson has temporarily stopped in Starkville on his way to heaven. One shout and he’s out! Reach him at email@example.com or visit www.uplook.tv.