“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”- William Blake
During my childhood years in Evergreen Park, IL, our next door neighbors, the Millars, had a large cage in their family room filled with five or six finches. My parents thought such lively birds would be an acceptable addition to our household, so we started small with two finches- a green singing finch (pictured) and a red-cheeked cordon bleu finch. Clearly, the green singing finch took over the role of alpha male. He also had a joyous singing voice- a Pavarotti of the finch world. When it was show time, he’d “request” his favorite tune- the Colonel Bogey March, the theme from the movie Bridge on the River Kwai- by alternately looking at me and the piano until I acquiesced to provide the inspiration for his aria.
The transition to unemployment or underemployment in the aftermath of our ministry downsizing or vocation loss firmly grounds us in the stark reality of unexpected and unwelcomed change. It’s as though our wings have been clipped. Our human strength fails us. Yet, precisely when we have come to the end of ourselves and are intentional in recalling and reaffirming God’s faithfulness, our ruins come to life and we rise up from the ashes in the glorious beauty of His name. Clinging to God’s promises, we find strength and refuge in the shadow of His wings, witnessing what John Ortberg asserts is true courage: “someone who wrestles with worry and doubt, yet still obeys, trembling and trusting.”
Through the Gospel we have the freedom to soar on God’s mercy and sing for joy, as Tullian Tchividjian describes in his book Glorious Ruin:
“The Gospel is not ultimately a defense from pain and suffering; rather it is the message of God’s rescue through pain. In fact, it allows us to drop our defenses, to escape not from pain, but from the prison of How and Why to the freedom of Who.”