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? (Matthew 6:26)
Build a bird feeder. Join a bird-watchers club! Enjoy observing these little winged creatures with your children, and point them to the truths Jesus pointed his disciples to so many years ago. Study closely the eagerness of the little yellow finches, the boldness of the cardinals, the crankiness of the blue jays, and the humility of the mourning-doves. (Watch your cat watch the birds!!!)
Here in Matthew 6:25-34 our Lord is addressing the stress of anxiety, fear, and worry. There is so much we could meditate on in these verses, but I want to park on verse 26. He illustrates our propensity to worry with a common, every-day happening in most of our lives—eating and drinking. He reminds us in the previous verse (6:25) not to worry about what we will eat or drink—how we’ll be provided for. Simple illustrations reinforce important truths, especially in children. Spend a day watching birds and you will be reminded of God’s comforting protection and constant provision. Really, don’t stress! God will provide. God will protect.
Look at the birds of the air!
I think God is a bird watcher. For centuries, the sky above Palestine has been a haven for all kinds of birds. Moses must have spent some time watching birds as can be assumed in his list of twenty of them in Leviticus 11:13-19—the eagle, vulture, osprey, kite, falcon, raven, ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, hawk, owl, cormorant, ibis, water hen, pelican, vulture, stork, heron, hoopoe, and bat. David talks about a sparrow and the swallow in Psalm 84:3. Even the barnyard birds are not neglected. Remember the beautiful passage about the hen and her chicks (Matthew 23:37), the rooster in Peter’s denial (Matthew 26:34), and the dove in the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16)? If God so notices the birds, do you really think that you, as His child, can go unnoticed?
They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns.
Imagine an eagle driving a John Deere tractor or a couple of old owls and white doves baling hay! Now, this is not to say that they are lazy—birds are forever flitting about looking for food, finding just the right materials for their nests, protecting their eggs, and feeding their young. God’s protection and provision in the bird world actually began when He created each winged and feathered creature.
Your heavenly Father feeds them.
God cares and provides for his creatures. In fact, he provides much more than food for them! Did you know that the ostrich can run 31 mph and has legs so powerful they can kick and kill animals the size of lions? Did you know that the hummingbirds are the tiniest of birds, can hear and see better than humans, and are so smart they can remember every flower they’ve been to and how long it will take for its nectar to refill? Their hearts beat 1260 times a minute, they average flying 25-30 miles a day, and can fly both frontwards and backwards.
Did you know that Jesus noticed the sparrows? Did you know that the sparrow is considered one of the most annoying and aggravating birds in existence? Sparrows eat everything in sight, plug gutter pipes, multiply quickly, gather in flocks of thousands, and take over areas from other birds. And yet Jesus cares for them.
Are you not of more value than they?
Did you know that Jesus Himself reminds us that we are more valuable than a pesky, seemingly worthless little sparrow? He said it this way in Matt. 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Note: Luke 12:6-7 offers a better deal—5 sparrows for 2 copper coins!)
God has given us the ability and the knowledge to grow and gather food. The birds cannot take things into their own hands (they don’t have hands) so they must trust or die. We must trust and work with the abilities that God has given us. God can and will work miracles through our feeble efforts. A widow woman made cakes for Elijah, and God kept the almost empty pots full. A little boy’s mother prepared a lunch of five loaves and two fish, and God fed thousands with that lunch. Servants filled water pots with water, and God turned the water into wine. We are to do what God has enabled us to do … then watch God do what only He can do.
He cares for them. He doesn’t ignore their needs; in fact, he brings glory to himself through meeting those needs. Are you not of more value than they? Is his care for you not infinitely more?
So, build a bird feeder. Go bird watching with your children. Point out Christ’s parallel to them. Watch how God protects and provides for each little creature. Thank God for His protection and provision in the life of your family. If you do, both your stress and the seemingly little anxieties of your children might just take on wings and fly away—just like a little bird.
Rand is the Director of The Wilds of New England in Deering, New Hampshire. Prior to going to New England, the Hummels served at The Wilds in North Carolina since 1978 as Assistant Director and Program Director. He has authored dozens of Bible helps for adults and teens. When camp is not in session, Rand travels across the US, preaching and teaching in churches, schools, and youth gatherings. Rand and Amber have two married children and three grandchildren.View all posts by Rand