Four baby barn swallows peered over the edge of the mud nest their mother had built on a wall in a corner of our patio. They were eagerly waiting for their mother to return with breakfast. I had a really good view of the feathered family from my bedroom window. From there I could watch all the activity without disturbing them. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “I can watch them grow, learn to fly, and then leave the nest.” It reminded me a little of my eighteen-year-old daughter who was preparing to move out on her own.
Then I remembered the beast. Our ninety pound, yellow lab dominates the back yard. Did the baby birds have a chance against a dog that pulls trees up by the roots? Maybe it would be better for the babies to never leave the nest. The mama bird could continue to feed them. Of course the daddy bird would have to build an addition to the nest…
Two days later I stood at the bedroom window again. One baby clung to the edge of the nest and one was perched beside it on a brick that jutted out from the wall. It was time for flying lessons! Mother Swallow called to them from atop a blade of the patio ceiling fan about five feet away. The beast lay on his side by the back door seemingly unaware of the unfolding drama. The baby on the brick hopped off into space, untested wings flapping. He dipped low, coming within eighteen inches of the ground. I held my breath. The beast slept on. Then the baby’s wings caught air and he awkwardly joined his mother on the fan blade. Whew! One down, three to go.
Within a few days, all four baby birds had successfully learned to fly. At first they only flew to the ceiling fan, then back to the nest. As the days went by they became a little more adventurous and visited the roof and the large tree beyond the patio. Then one day they were gone. The nest stayed empty. Their mother had done her job and they were on their own.
Soon my son Mark – our youngest – will try his wings. I worry about what could happen to him outside the nest. Will he watch out for those “big, yellow labs?” Yet, today God brought one of His many promises to mind. Nothing happens to a single sparrow that isn’t within God’s will. If He cares that much for a sparrow, how much more does He care for Mark? He is worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
So I’ll pray – and watch from the fan blade with squawks of encouragement.
Who in your life do you need to entrust to the care of the One Who watches over the sparrows?
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I understand your mother’s heart so well. I have claimed that scripture passage over the last several months as I have let my “nestlings” go. Still, as much as I know God watches over them, some days I just want to take them under my wing again. Blessings to you my friend, I will be thinking about you in the weeks ahead as you face an ’empty’ nest.