Of Mice and Birds
My house is built into the side of a hill. In my home I have an office. Outside my office window I can see the top of a twenty-five-foot-high eucalyptus tree. Sometimes squirrels climb that tree or hop down to it from an overhanging telephone wire, but more often the tree hosts a variety of neighborhood birds.
Very early one morning before I was ready to concentrate on some serious desk work, I saw a bird fly up and perch on the topmost branch of my eucalyptus tree. As I watched, a stiff ocean breeze pushed the little bird in one direction while the tree branch still swung the other way. I thought to myself, It’s a good thing that bird is not a tree-climbing field mouse. If he were, he’d fall off for sure.
Then in my imagination, in the realm of daydreams and far-fetched things, I thought of a strange scenario involving birds and mice: In its highest branches my eucalyptus tree might cradle a bird’s nest of twigs and grass, while the cavity at the base of its trunk cozily housed a family of field mice.
I pictured a bird’s egg falling out of that high nest. Against all odds, it would not break and would roll into the mouse hole on the ground. Discovering the egg, the mice might think it made a nice pillow. They would all huddle around it and rest their furry little heads on it while they slept—until one day the egg would begin to vibrate and make strange noises. It would crack open, and out would wiggle a baby bird. In that mouse nest there would be little mouslings—or whatever baby mice are called—and the baby bird would grow up with them. It would think that it, too, was a mouse. Mimicking its mouse siblings, it would scurry about on the ground looking for seeds and small insects to eat.
But then I thought, if that bird grew up in a mouse environment thinking it was a mouse, it would react to its natural instincts and eventually it would become restless and lonely, particularly at mating time. Then perhaps the bird that thought it was a mouse would seek adventure. It would climb up my eucalyptus tree (though I have never seen a real mouse climb to the top of the tree). Then perhaps my imaginary bird would find itself swinging in the wind like the real bird I had seen. Perhaps it would clutch at that topmost branch much the way I saw the real bird clutching it in the high wind. And perhaps the wind would blow so hard that it would actually dislodge the bird who thought it was a mouse.
Then, in its desperate attempt to keep from falling, the little creature would flap its unused front feet” which, unknown to it, were really wings. And in that moment of high wind the mouse-minded bird would discover that it could fly—that it could soar—that it need not spend its entire life grubbing around on the ground on spindly, unsuitable legs.
As I came out of my reverie I thought, Believers in Jesus are like that bird I dreamed up. Far too often we think we are mice when we are really birds. Finding ourselves in a base environment, we fail to realize that we have the God-given equipment that enables us to soar above our circumstances. We fail to realize that we need not eke out our lives on that lower plane—that we need not fear those base things that prey on ground animals, because the New Birth has made us different creatures. We fail to realize that we can remain stable when shaken, or even soar higher when necessary.
Because we forget who we are in Christ, many of us never do get off the ground. Some of us dare to investigate and climb a bit higher, but invariably we end up clinging to one of the lower branches, afraid to go too high. Sometimes it takes a very strong wind of adversity to blow us off the branch to which we are clinging. Just when we think we are falling and will surely perish, the same wind that blew us off the branch lifts us, and we begin to fly. Then we begin to get an inkling of what God really intends for us to be.
As humans we are mere “mice” who will eke out our lowly existence on the ground until we die. But in Christ, and by the power of his Spirit, we are “birds.” In Christ God has transformed us into beings who can soar to spiritual heights and transcend our lowly mortal experiences. We need not be battered and buffeted by every chance wind that overtakes us. We can fly above the storms of life and bask in the warmth and sunshine of a brighter day to come.
Why am I telling you my daydream? I guess what I wanted to say was, “Let’s get out of our mouse costumes and stop being content to grub around on the ground. Let’s find our wings. Let’s gear up to fly, because there’s work to do, and because that’s what our Heavenly Father has in store for us—in this life and in the life to come.”
“Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that,when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure.” (I John 3:2-3)