I don’t have any hills in my yard, but I do hear the sound of music. My feathered friends have begun their annual return, and they’re filling the air with their joyful melodies. As they arrive, they’re met by the faithful chickadees and nuthatches who have fed on sunflower seeds and weathered the winter.
If, as some say, the chickadees and nuthatches are deficient in color, they are more than proficient in conversation. The chickadee is reported to have a vocabulary of around 50 distinct sounds including phrases, like “danger!” “feed me!” or “I’m single!”
As the chickadee is busy chattering, the nuthatch listens intently; verifies the message; and, if necessary, acts as a watchman on the wall and sounds a predator is present alarm. While the nuthatch is no Chicken Little, Eric Greene, an ecologist at the University of Montana, lightheartedly says the bird will “retweet” valid warnings to his neighbors.
The importance of conversations cannot be overstated, and ours ought to be more than idle chatter. Jesus said a person will be either justified or condemned by the words they speak (Matthew 12:27). Our conversation should be more than great swelling words of emptiness (2 Peter 2:18), or persuasive words of deception (Colossians 2:8).
How can we fine-tune our vocabulary, so our conversation is pleasing to God? We can start with a prayer of David: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
Thomas à Kempis was a member of a Dutch Augustinian monastery that was associated with a group known as The Brethren of the Common Life. His main task was to focus on the spiritual life of the novices. To accomplish this, he wrote four booklets between the years of 1420 and 1427. Of the four, The Imitation of Christ has been translated into over 50 languages.
Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, was so fond of this book that he read a chapter a day from it. These sentiments were echoed by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, who said it was the best summary of the Christian life he had ever read.
The theme of Kempis’ work can be summarized in this quote: “We must imitate Christ’s life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most characteristic important thing we do.”
Kempis once described God as being “unflappable, unfluffable, indecipherable, and indescribable.” Wise as he was, Kempis’ description of God was no match for the one given by David in Psalm 62: God is our rock, salvation, defense, expectation, glory, and He is the rock of our strength and our refuge.
I encourage you take a few moments to read and then meditate on the words of this wonderful Psalm:
My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. ~Psalm 62
Both mice and mothers can be found hastily scurrying about the floor of kitchens. The one will eagerly and earnestly scour the floor for the crumbs that fall from the delicious tidbits prepared by the other. To be honest though, mothers choose not to coexist with mice.
Most mothers would rather stomp a mouse than study it; unless, you’re a mother in a lab studying Mus Musculus, the common house mouse.
Researchers at New York University were studying the mother-child bond and used mice to determine the role of the brain and how a mother nurtures her children. The researchers had noticed that when baby mice fell out of their nest, their cries of distress alerted their mothers; however, virgin mice didn’t respond until they were injected with oxytocin. After a series of injections, the virgin mice were transformed and began to respond to the cries of the baby mice..
This research reminds me of the mercy of God. It’s in His nature to nurture, and He responds to the cries of His children: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:6-8).”
When sorrows come and you cry out to God knowing: The Lord has heard the voice of your weeping. The Lord has heard your supplication; The Lord will receive my prayer (Psalm 6:8-9). Then in response to His goodness, you can sing to the Lord and shout joyfully to the Rock of your salvation (Psalm 95:1).