All That You Have

by | May 15, 2013 | Surrender, Truth

The squirrel continued to speedily devour the sunflower seeds despite the attack mounted against him by the half dozen or so blackbirds that had also come to feed that morning. They desperately wanted him to leave so they could have their turn on the 12×24-inch board onto which I’d poured about a quart of seeds.

Though the squirrel seemed oblivious to them, they launched an intensive offensive against him. Some positioned themselves a safe distance away at the opposite end of the board and shrieked at him. They also showed their aggression by pecking at him and extending their wings. Despite their best efforts, the squirrel paid them absolutely no attention. His little body did not stiffen even once during the encounter that lasted several minutes.

In desperation, some of the blackbirds flew around and landed on the deck rail behind the squirrel. They took turns sneaking over to the board and snitching one sunflower seed at a time. Yet, the squirrel paid no attention to them. He merely kept on munching. Some of the hungry blackbirds flew to the floor of the deck in order to retrieve a few of the fallen seeds. Finally, all the blackbirds gave up and flew away. The squirrel didn’t seem to notice that his attackers had gone.

Once the squirrel had eaten his fill, he scampered down the steps. His leaving served as a green light for the birds waiting in a nearby persimmon tree. Cardinals, doves, blue jays, and sparrows all wanted to feed at once since the squirrel’s presence had deterred them from feeding earlier.

I watched as the birds exhibited their customary pecking order. When certain birds arrived, all the others felt compelled to leave. After the birds of higher rank left, then those of lesser rank returned.

The scene was familiar to me since I see it enacted several times each day. As usual, I shook my head over their selfishness and their lack of ability to get along and to share with others, even with those of their own kind.

As I watched them fighting over the seeds my husband and I generously and faithfully provide for them, a Scripture passage came to my mind. I realized that the author of the words must have been as incredulous as I over manifestations of greed and selfishness—among people rather than birds.

Those who adhered more to the teachings of Apollos felt that they were in the superior group, while those who favored Paul felt that they had the better leader/teacher. Each group, both so recently rescued from paganism, felt they were more spiritual, more enlightened, than the members in the other group.

To address that issue, Paul penned penetrating questions applicable not only to that situation but also to the drama enacted daily on my deck, as well as to attitudes of people world-wide. “What makes you better than anyone else? What do you have that God has not given you? And if all you have is from God, why boast as though you have accomplished something on your own?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, New Living Translation).

Why, indeed? That question demands an answer from all people—and from the birds, as well.

©2008 Johnnie Ann Gaskill


All That You Have