The other day my five-year-old asked me what my favourite bird was. In the past I’d have said something really pretentious like a Golden Oriole. But after thinking a while I decided my favourite bird is a robin. I was really quite surprised at my own answer – why something so common and ordinary? What has changed within me that has led to this choice?
A few months ago, I was listening to a podcast from Wild at Heart. They had a guest in who was sharing about stories of Jesus encounters in her life. She talked about how over the years Jesus had cultivated a personal love language with her in order to remind her of his presence during the day. I can’t remember what her language was exactly – something to do with flowers or rainbows. In response to the podcast, I decided to ask Jesus to do something similar for me, and as the days and weeks have gone by since I asked him, I realise that he has constantly drawn my attention to birds and birdsong.
There’s a little wilderness – a path running alongside a graveyard we call ‘the bumpy path’ – on the way to and from school. I often notice the birds while my son and I ride our bikes, and when I can I leave slightly early to collect him so I can push my bike and walk slowly through this section. As I do so I can breathe deeply and receive peace from God before the crazy play-cook-eat-bath-bedtime routine begins. And I regularly encounter robins.
I love the friendliness of them – they aren’t afraid to come close, and fly away that fraction later than other birds do, which allows me to enjoy them for longer. I love their red breast too – they aren’t just shades of brown, but there is something defiant and exuberant about them. Their song is also a delight, with such variety and tunefulness. I read somewhere that they sing to announce and protect their territory, which reminds me of that famous verse from Zephaniah 3:
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
I decided to ask Jesus what He loves about robins. I was journaling in the garden at this point and put pen to paper. He said this:
They are my fearless worshippers. They extend my kingdom with their territorial song. The red over their chest speaks of my blood which covers and shields the hearts of all who love me. They are quick to trust and in doing so reap the reward of all I have to give.
I often wonder whether I have made something up or really heard from Him, but in a finishing flourish a robin suddenly appeared in the garden, beautifully framed by a gap in the hedge. Jesus, thank you.
Jesus, thank you for your love. Thank you that you know each one of us intimately, and you know what connects with us on the deepest level. Would you cultivate a love-language with me that helps me recognise your presence and learn the depths of your love? Amen.