writing and pictures by June Friesen
Birds bring me encouragement and joy. When I find myself discouraged and struggling with personal issues and/or troubled by the events around me or the world I often think of the birds. I am so fascinated by their complete trust in their Creator. There is nothing more calming to me that a dove – their calm cooing, their quiet manner of just sitting and quietly watching. This is very possibly the result of what I call my friendship with a dove.
When I was a young girl of about twelve the farm my family lived on had many evergreen pines on it. There was a worn path through two of them because it was a direct route to the mailbox. In spring I noticed a bird fly from a rather low branch. I stopped and looked a bit closer and there was a flimsily built nest with three eggs lying in it. I tried my best when I went by not to disturb her too much and often, she just sat and watched me walk by. I waited patiently wondering. I kept checking when she was not on the nest to watch for progress … and then one day two eggs were hatched and the next day all three were hatched. I monitored the happenings over the next few weeks and then one day the nest was empty – they had grown enough to fly on their own. To my amazement and delight, this dove returned for several years granting me the opportunity to watch her raise her little family each year.
This story reminds me of how much God loves and cares for the birds – and the Scriptures remind us that with that kind of care for the birds His care for you and I is even greater. And so as I struggle with the events of our world and often find my spirit restless I think back to how God cared for this dove and her families – as well as all birds. Yet the Scriptures also remind us that God cares for us even more.
PSALM 55 (select verses) The Message Translation
55 1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer; don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you.
I shudder at the mean voice, quail before the evil eye,
As they pile on the guilt, stockpile angry slander.
4-8 My insides are turned inside out; specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear, I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask— “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings; I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country, I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather.
9-11 Come down hard, Lord—………..
I’m appalled how they’ve split the city into rival gangs prowling the alleys
Day and night spoiling for a fight, trash piled in the streets,
Even shopkeepers gouging and cheating in broad daylight……..
16-19 I call to God; God will help me.
At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
My life is well and whole, secure in the middle of danger
Even while thousands are lined up against me.
God hears it all, and from his judge’s bench puts them in their place.
But, set in their ways, they won’t change; they pay him no mind…….
22-23 Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders— he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people topple into ruin……..
And I trust in you.
The Scriptures invite us to call out to God in these struggles. There are times when I have my window open at night and hear the sounds of the city. At times there are people talking, laughing, and also disagreeing. Sometimes there are disturbing sounds of racing motors, thumps, etc. and I find myself praying for anyone who may be struggling with issues, not knowing how to cope or where to turn. I am learning that like the birds of His creation God desires that I not only care for myself and my immediate family or even just my friends and/or church family – God is looking for prayer warriors everywhere. It does not matter where one is, who one is, what color one is, or what language one speaks – when one is prompted by the Spirit to pray – it is important to be obedient. As I have chosen to practice taking the present moment of prompting to pray, I have found my spirit more at peace and I have also found that it seems to bring more rest in the neighborhood around me. All of us live in different communities, some in the city, village or country, some in houses, some in apartments, some in trailers and sadly some do not have a place to really call home, yet all of us can pray.
PRAYER: RESTING WITH GOD
Father – You have invited us to talk to You,
You have encouraged us by the example of Your Son,
You have given us instructions on how to pray at certain times,
You have even told us when we have no words – You understand our groans.
Father – I remember the times when my heart has literally been breaking –
Someone is facing a tragedy, an unexpected illness or death,
A loved one or they themself have lost their home, their job, or mobility,
Someone is so broken in spirit they seem without hope …
God thank you for hearing the painful cries and groans of my spirit
And giving me strength to walk with my friend as You walk with me.
Father – I desire for my friends, family as well as all who read this today
To be encouraged to take the time to trust You with their lives
As the birds do, particularly my friend the dove,
Please give them a restful, calming in their spirit today
And they too will know that they have been carried upwards
Into Your ever-loving presence not only for this moment
But it is something they can embrace 24/7 –
Because ‘You, O God, are only a prayer away.
Amen and amen.
The twelve meditations in this beautiful full-color book are designed to provide moments of refreshment throughout the day or week. The blending together of prayers, reflections, questions, and photos invites us to pause, reset and refresh ourselves. Rest is such an important part of the rhythm of our lives, not just a weekly rest of Sabbath, but pauses of rest throughout the day to reset our focus and renew our connections to God. Enjoy as a PDF download, or purchase the hard copy here.