Today’s post comes from my lovely bride:
“If we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you…Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:13 and 20).
I enjoy watching almost anything in nature. Birds are interesting. Some weigh almost nothing, and lightly adorn a slender branch to give me a song that sooths my city-jangled nerves. Some fly graciously, lifted by updrafts, and lift my heart with them. These kinds of birds give me pleasure and cost me nothing—my kind of pet.
And then there are crows. Crows aren’t known for their positive characteristics. And why should they be? They pick at the garbage, and dead things, and odd bits of something on the road. They’re dirty (although I have never been close enough to one to verify its hygiene). And they CAW. Or squawk. Or something else that is particularly grating on the nerves. I have no affinity to crows as I do to other birds. They are ugly, nasty things, and that is all.
At least, I felt that way about crows until a recent episode with a continually squawking monster who has lately found a perch on the dying tree in front of my house. My own neighborhood crow was “Caw, caw, cawing” for so long and in such a manner that I could no longer ignore it as background noise. I went outside to see what the matter was. There was the crow, standing in the middle of the street, telling a neighborhood cat, in no uncertain terms, that it needed to stay away! Perhaps the crow had a nest nearby…or perhaps the crow just felt it was time for a showdown with this particular tabby–and he was up to the challenge. I watched for many minutes and the crow kept up the racket until the kitty, who stood about two feet away from him, finally gave up his rather vulnerable position, and retreated behind the wheel of a nearby car. The crow did not stop cawing, but continued the standoff long after I left. For the first time in my life, I was enthralled by a crow, and I appreciated this previously unseen quality about him—that bird had persistence!
In medical parlance, persistence means “continuance in an effect after the cause is removed.” Like I said, I don’t know why that crow was after that cat, but whatever the reason, he would pester that poor animal until it would never be a threat again—I was sure of that. Perhaps that was actually the instinctive purpose behind the bird’s tenacity: “Bother me once, shame on you; bother me twice, shame on me.”
This little picture of nature in action was nothing more than a humorous vignette—it had no special meaning to me at the time. But something happened the next day that would bring the bird’s behavior into a new perspective for me.
The following day I met someone who made me wish I had the patience of this crow. A young man, perhaps 20, came to me in a parking lot: “Ma’am, could you give me any amount of money? My car ran out of gas and I need to get some.”
“If you need gas, you need a gas can.”
“They’ll give me one.”
“No they won’t; what will you do?”
“I’ll use a cup.”
I looked at the skateboard in his hand: “If your car is down the road, why the skateboard?”
“I grabbed it.”
“Hmm…you don’t really need money for gas, do you?”
“Is it for drugs?”
And the conversation took us into what was more like my own personal tirade against evil drug dealers and the fact that he needed to make haste to a hospital or half-way house. I gave him a dollar for a bus or for some food. I gave him the name of a half-way house, the street it was on, and begged him to get clean now, not next week. I was frustrated with this young man.
“What can I do for you! I cannot take you with me to a rehab facility. I cannot make you do what I say. I will not give you money to spend on that jerk of a drug dealer who is benefiting from your wrecked life. Go somewhere NOW. You can and you must! You make me mad, because I cannot help you…I can only pray for you.”
He asked me to do that, and as he walked away, he told me he would spend the money on food at Burger King.
Then I remembered my crow and wished I were more like it. If I were like that crow, I would not take his word for it—I would follow him and make sure he ate something at the Burger King. I would pester him a little more. I would make a call to the local Presbyterian church with the half-way house. I would make sure he knew that my offer of prayer was not an empty platitude, but like St. Paul and the crow, “If we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you…Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:13 and 20).
Like the crow, and like Paul, and like God, I would “go after the one that is lost” until I could rest assured that he knew God wasn’t going to let him get away that easily! It’s the least I can do.