I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Birds of a Feather

I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a housetop. Psalm 102:7

For the first time since we planted it three years ago, we are enjoying baskets upon baskets of fresh-picked nectarines from our backyard tree. It’s taken long enough, eh? The problem isn’t that the tree didn’t produce, but there were always issues. Did you know snails love nectarines? I didn’t. They slimed their way up the trunk and took out the small crop the first year.

Birds love fruit—yeah, that I did know. So we netted the tree. Netting isn’t precise, though. Since the tree has changed shape since it began bearing fruit—the branches are heavier—there are gaps in the net. Lately, I get up in the morning, and before I even make a cup of tea, I shoo a flock of thrushes away from the tree before I readjust the net. If I’m lucky, I can get to a ripe nectarine before they had a chance to nibble the best parts.

Little wonder there are so many parables about bearing fruit. And robbers.
Swainson's Thrush, a possible culprit! From wikipedia.com

But when it comes to spiritual matters, emotional matters, these little birds have captured my attention. They do everything together. They zip around the tree together. Flee together. Watch me with their beady little eyes together. They’re buddies. A team.

But not all birds of a feather stick together. People sure don’t. If you’ve ever parented a pre-teenager, or been one yourself, you’ll remember how difficult it can be to find a team, a buddy, a gang, a group. And it doesn’t always get easier when we grow up. We start new jobs, take classes, move to new areas, and visit churches. All places that are full of people. And surrounded by folks, we can feel utterly alone.

The author of Psalm 102 could relate, to say the least. Dejection and agony run through the verses, in addition to feeling like a lonely bird. He writes:

For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. (3-5)

We all have ways of coping with loneliness. We stay in, to nurse the pain or to avoid going out by ourselves. We go out, hoping to make new friends, and sometimes it works.

We are blessed to have a Lord who Himself felt rejected, misunderstood and despised. When we feel alone, we can come to Him and share our feelings. He doesn’t want us to be lonely.

But while God cares a lot about our feelings, I think He would also have us do more about the lonely birds He’s placed around us.

How so? Well, when we have good friends, we don’t feel the need to make new ones. We enjoy our bubble of fellowship … and there’s nothing wrong with comfortable friendships. Thank God for true friends who know us and love us anyway!

But does that mean we should stop seeking new friendships or stop being available to others?

One woman I spoke to recently is new in her community and church. She has become acquainted with several women whose children are of similar ages to hers. Last week, she shared with the women how she’d like to be more involved and deepen relationships, and she invited them to an activity. The group told her if she wanted to make new friends, she should visit a networking website. What this woman really wanted, however, was to to get to know them! Instead, she felt  as if she was unworthy of her Christian sisters’ time.

I would argue that being closed to friendships is unhelpful in making others feel welcome—and it might even be anti-evangelical or self-centered.

The Bible is full of verses regarding fellowship. God created us to need fellowship. He wants us to share our lives with Him and one another.

"...I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." John 17:23

"That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love..." Colossians 2:2

"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."  Galatians 6:2,10
When we lack the fellowship, pain ensues.The Psalmist’s symptoms of loneliness described in Psalm 102 are physical as well as emotional: insomnia, tears, loss of appetite. True suffering.

Watch for someone who might be suffering from the loneliness that you sometimes feel. You never know. At worst, you’ll be doing something grand in easing someone’s burden –with a smile or a lunch out or a quick note.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll become two birds of a feather.

(originally appeared on Inkwell Inspirations)

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