Growing up in rural Arkansas I had many opportunities to walk the woods with my grandfather learning about various aspects of nature, including birds. One of the most interesting birds I can remember is the Charadrius vociferous, or, you probably know it as the Killdeer.
Or maybe, you’ve never heard of the Killdeer. That’s okay, but I’d like to introduce you to this curious little bird. The first thing I remember learning about the Killdeer is that it lays its eggs on the ground. And since its eggs look similar to rocks, it enjoys making its nests in gravel. Growing up I remember my grandfather blocking off portions of the road with old sawhorses so that no one would run over the nest.
The Batting Cage
In the Spring of 2019, I came across a Killdeer nest at our local baseball/softball facility in Perryville. Those birds had chosen to build right where we had planned to put up a batting cage! Little did they know the very spot they planned to raise a family, we had planned to cover in concrete pretty soon.
We didn’t know what to do. Maybe move the eggs? Would they even come back to them if we did that? But in God’s kind providence, the concrete was delayed and so we watched our little friends protect their nest.
And one day, the eggs were gone. I wasn’t sure if they had hatched or been eaten until a few days later when we saw Mamma Kildeer and her babies roaming the ballfields!
The Flood of 2019
Toward the end of May 2019, the Arkansas River flooded. This caused the little river near our ballpark, the Fourche LaFave, to spill its banks as well. As the waters slowly rose, we would check on our fields, with that helpless feeling of not being able to do anything to stop the inevitable.
As we awaited the flood, we’d see Mamma Kildeer roaming the high ground with her brood. Each day she had less and less area to roam, until one day, the entire ballpark was covered with water. We saw the Kildeer no more. Assuming the worst, at least for those little ones.
COVID-19 Ends Ballgames
When Governor Hutchinson closed Arkansas Schools in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus, we made the decision to postpone sports activities at our Perryville facility.
We finally had gotten the concrete poured and the batting cage completed, only to not be able to use it. Now the grass just continues to grow in the fields without anyone able to use them to enjoy America’s greatest past time.
A community volunteer mowing those unplayable fields, however, led me to a discovery one afternoon. And I heard a sermon I knew well, but wasn’t expecting to hear in this way.
God’s Other Book
God wrote two books, you know. The one we often write about here at ThingsAbove.Us is that special revelation God has given us in the 66 infallible, inerrant, authoritative, sufficient books that make up the Bible.
The other “book”, if you will, that God has written, is creation. This book is written in a universal language and reveals God’s eternal power and divine nature to everyone (Romans 1:18-20). It’s such clear revelation that David says it’s like “speech” (Psalm 19:2).
I confess to you that I don’t “listen” to creation as often as I should. It has much to remind us about God. Jesus, Himself, used creation in His teaching to reveal important truths to His disciples. In fact, He even used birds.
It was on a Wednesday afternoon in early April that I went to our ball fields to check on the man who had volunteered to mow for us. He had already completed his task and left, but as I was driving through our gravel parking lot, I made a discovery — a Killdeer!
I parked the van and scoured the area and sure enough, I found the nest. It currently only had one egg, but I put some cones around it to prevent anyone from driving over it.
I have no way of knowing for sure if this was the same Killdeer from last year. But in a way that surprised me, this episode brought a bit of encouragement to my soul.
Look at the Birds
Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 6:25-26, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
As I observed this little Killdeer, my mind was drawn to this text. It seems she hadn’t got the memo about COVID-19. She wasn’t sheltering at home. She didn’t have any stockpiles of toilet paper. She was just doing what little birds do — what God made the birds to do, multiplying (Genesis 1:22).
While she seemed a little concerned about the bearded man approaching her nest, she got over that quickly after I left. She wasn’t concerned about what to eat or even tomorrow’s stock market prices. She was content to be fed by our heavenly Father as she went about her little Killdeer existence.
The Killdeer’s Application
The other thing I thought about watching that Killdeer is how the Lord is still seated on His throne. Birds still multiply. The earth continues to spin. God’s purposes continue to be fulfilled for His creation.
In the midst of global panic and rioting in the streets, creation testifies to us that God is still in control. I wonder if we will listen?
I don’t mean that it’s not okay to make plans and preparations (though it’s not okay to hoard toilet paper – or smash someone else’s property). What I mean is, when we look at the birds, will we be reminded of how much more value we are than the Killdeer? And if God feeds the Killdeer, how much more will He provide for His beloved children exactly what we need?
In fact, every circumstance the Lord brings into the life of the believer is a manifestation of His eternal love. From Mexican food to mosquitos, to mortgages, God is working all things for good for those who love Him, for those who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The events of 2020 are ultimately just more tools God’s hand to bring about His church’s good and His own glory.
What the Killdeer Missed
Of course, God hasn’t given His creation the privilege of preaching His gospel. He’s left that to Believers. God provides for the Killdeer’s physical needs, but He’s done something even more for us.
He’s sent Jesus to secure our redemption. Our greatest need is not a vaccine or vacation. Our greatest need is reconciliation with a holy God whom we have sinned against. But God sent forth His Son to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life before Him, to die on the cross as our substitute, bearing His wrath against our sin, and to be raised again the third day so that all who look to Him in faith will be forgiven of their sin and given the righteousness of Christ.
I wonder if we will be humble enough to listen to the Killdeer’s sermon? Do not be anxious. God is in control. You are of more value than the birds. Trust Him today.
And I wonder if we will go beyond that little Killdeer’s message on to Christ — resting ourselves in His blessed gospel?