My brother John isn't just the well-loved pastor he has been for more than forty years. He was a brother to my sisters and me long before he even opened a Bible or preached a sermon. From his boyhood days, he was fascinated with birds, and he and his best friend, Dick, spent many hours watching and studying them in the woods of Western Pennsylvania surrounding our home.
He brought his passion for ornithology to a neighborhood-kid level by introducing a Junior Audubon Club for those of us old enough to read. Along with learning interesting facts about the birds around us, we drew pictures of them and painted plastic models of them.
The most intriguing skill my brother and Dick acquired in their birding adventures was mimicking bird calls. They never tired of listening to and copying the variety of bird calls they heard. Apparently, the skill never leaves a birdwatcher, for when he visits my home by the woods now, he readily names any number of birds as he listens to their chatter and songs.
One night, my brother pitched a small pup tent less than four feet from our house, under my parent’s bedroom window, and he and my little sister set up camp in the great outdoors. Leah was very young, and no doubt thrilled that our big brother would include her in such a venture.
My bedroom window was within earshot of their tent, and as I settled in bed for the night, I could hear their conversation. John began teaching Leah about birds—specifically night birds and those they would possibly hear outside in the wild. As the lesson began, he would teach her bird facts, and I would hear her soft little voice agreeing or asking questions, as she was drawn into the passion of birding. If she had any fears of the night or being away from the safety of her bed, they were dispelled as our brother filled her head with amusing thoughts of the wonders of God’s amazing creatures.
Soon the bird call instruction began, as John told Leah about the Barred Owl and prepared her to recognize its call through the night. After hearing about the many characteristics of the owl, I imagine she was wide-eyed and ready to learn the bird call, as my brother said, “It sounds like this— ‘Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?’”
Totally caught up in the moment, Leah’s tiny voice spontaneously replied, “Mommy does! Mommy does!” I giggled at her immediate response. The student had captured the teacher’s passion for birds and was completely abandoning her inhibitions and having an “in-the-moment” experience in birding!
When Christ draws us to Himself—through the words of another person or the Holy Spirit—there is something so fascinating and appealing about His love that we get caught up in the passion of it all as our thirsting soul connects with its Maker and drinks in His forgiveness, love, and life. We get caught up “in the moment” with the Savior, and our fears and worries are dispelled by His Presence, power, and the sweetness of His compassion. His passion for righteousness and love becomes our passion, too.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God, Psalm 42:1 says. When we hear an inspiring account of the goodness of God, our spirit is stirred and excited. Jesus, our Great Teacher, is passionate about the infallibility of God--His divine power, eternal life, His Word, healing, deliverance, authority, and provision.
Oh, that we might be students who capture our Teacher’s passion, abandon our inhibitions, have an “in-the-moment” experience with the Savior, and share His amazing love and grace with the world! In the words of Jesus, “As you go into all the world, preach openly the wonderful news of the gospel to the entire human race!” (Mark 16:15 TPT).
© 2023, Chris Werre