We noticed it, gossamer wings flapping frenzied, as my preschoolers piled into the van to pick up the kids at school.
The tiny bird darted from one side of the garage to the other, bumping its soft feathered head on the ceiling and looping dangerously through the wires and rafters.
My little ones hollered a happy hello when they spotted the plumed fledgling, while I grabbed a broom and attempted to swat it out of the garage.
Though spacious blue skies were just beyond the wide-open garage door, the frantic bird continued to jet in circles near the top of our garage.
We cringed as we watched the tiny creature continuously try to soar higher and higher, each time crushing its little head against the unforgiving ceiling that had replaced the sky.
We left the garage door open when we headed into town and hoped that our flying friend would be gone when we returned.
Unfortunately, an hour later, the poor little bird was still trapped in our garage. But it didn't look like the same spunky flyer. It's tiny heart pounded hard against its breast and its lightning speed was slowing.
Our feathered guest looked like a drunken sailor as it lurched and reeled from one side of the garage to the other.
My tender eight-year-old cried in horror as she watched the tiny creature sway and swagger, its wings growing weary and weak.
We chased the dizzied bird with broomsticks and rake handles, tried to swat his feathered frame toward the open door with dust pans and pillows (yes, we were quite a sight!).
But it refused to swoop low so that it could slip through the waiting exit.
When our efforts proved fruitless, I beckoned the kids inside, too cowardly to stand by and witness the little bird's demise.
Hannah was distraught to leave the poor critter on its own, but most bothered by the realization that the little bird's deliverance was just inches away right beneath the ledge of the double-wide garage door.
"Mom," my tender one cried in frustration, "If it would just fly LOWER that bird would be free!"
My firstborn set down his broom and folded his arms across his chest. "Yeah, but a bird's instinct is to go up."
My insightful one agreed with a sorry shake of her head, "You're right. Going lower's just not natural."
Suddenly my stomach twisted sad and sorry. Because I saw myself in that dizzy desperate captive.
I know what it's like to grow weary from fruitless flapping.
I understand what it's like to spin into a stupor when all I really need to do is to drop low and discover the spacious place just beneath my striving.
Those upside down words that jolted my soul once before flitted through my mind as I turned toward the house, unable to watch the little bird's frenzy any longer.
"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we would reach them. I find no that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get his best gifts." (F.B. Meyer as quoted in Anne Voskamp's 1000 Gifts).
What can we do? Hannah moaned as she stumbled into the house behind me and dropped her school bag with a thud.
"I guess we could pray," I conceded.
So we entwined hands right there in the cluttered coat room and we prayed for our prisoner just beyond the door. And for all of us who are still learning to soar low.
The Overflow: Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Happily linking with Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus