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Lessons from the Sparrow

A sparrow taught me a lesson this morning.

I sat watching the colors of dawn slowly wash over the sky this morning. Just as the grey dimness was washed in sunlight, as if on cue, a sparrow began to trill her song. She sang and sang, not seeming to notice that anyone was listening. And I don’t think she cared that I was there; for she wasn’t singing for attention – she was singing because she just had to. Her little heart was overflowing and she didn’t care who heard her. Her song wasn’t for me. It wasn’t even for her. It was for the dawn. She had a song to sing to the morning light and nothing could hold her back. That sparrow taught me a lesson this morning.

It wasn’t a complicated melody that she sang – just a simple little tune of overflowing joy. That’s the thing with joy: it’s not complicated. For those who choose to live in joy, they find pleasure in the smallest of things. Much like this sparrow, they can delight in the colors of the morning and allow the pleasure that so many take for granted – something routine and mundane - to be something they sing over. That sparrow taught me a lesson this morning.

And this unassuming sparrow with her brown and grey feathers, never once looked at herself and thought, “I am much too plain to offer this song compared to such beauty.” She filled the morning with her melody, not seeming to care that her brown and grey plumage was no comparison to the colors that were splashing across the sky. Her song wasn’t one of comparison: it was one of pure delight in what was happening all around her. Her eyes were never on herself and so no insecurity could take hold and silence her song. That sparrow taught me a lesson this morning.

Psalm 84:1 -3 says, “How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, even faints For the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God.”

In my Christian routine, I can so often lose sight of the loveliness of God’s tabernacle: the tabernacle that is all around me. In the hazy evening sky, in the crisp morning dew on the grass – God has placed me in a world that is a “tabernacle” – a place of worship, where – if I will take the time to notice – 10,000,000 reasons to sing are all around me. And if that isn’t enough, I myself am the dwelling place of God. Sure, much like that sparrow, I am nothing much to look at on the outside. Even the inside of my soul can look pretty rough at times. But there in my spirit – there where God abides – I have 10,000,000 reasons to lift my song. He is beautiful. I don’t hold back my song because I consider myself less than, and therefore unworthy. No – I see the beauty of His dwelling place…in me and all around me…and I cannot help but lift my song. I am overflowing with joy and gratitude that the dawn of salvation, the dawn of hope, the dawn of new mercies has greeted me every day! I cannot help but sing!

And one other tabernacle is in my life: the gathering of saints for worship. Oh, what a pleasure and what a delight to gather with those who know His name! How routine a Sunday gathering can feel to those who lose sight of its beauty. But for those who will learn the lesson from the sparrow and find the joy in the routine, we cannot help but sing. How lovely it is! How beautiful it is! Oh, for a heart in me to be so overcome with joy that I find myself longing to enter those courts. Even as other sparrows began to perch next to my songbird teacher this morning, never once did I hear her say, “O, bother. Here we go again. Do I have to do this again? With you right beside me?” No. It didn’t change her song at all. If anything, it added to its beauty.

A fascinating thing about Psalm 84:3 is that sparrows were finding a place to live in the place of slaughter: the altar. In biblical times, sparrows were sold as an offering for the poorest of poor (Lev. 1; 14). Jesus himself said that sparrows were sold as an offering (Matt. 10:29-31). The poorest among Jesus could only offer a tiny, unassuming, plain songbird as their offering to God. But Jesus went on to say that every sparrow that lost its life in a sacrifice of praise to God, was known by the Father. When we choose to die to our own insecurities, when we choose to take up our cross, deny ourselves even to the smallest degree – this moves our Father. In the place of death and sacrifice, we can offer up a song. We bring “the sacrifice of praise” to the altar and there offer up our lowly praise (Heb. 13:15). These offerings please the Father; no matter how small. No matter how lowly. Even the smallest of offerings bring Him joy.

I think the sparrow knows that instinctively. That winged teacher this morning just knows that, no matter how small her worship, it moves the Father. If she didn’t know that, she would hold it back. Fear would paralyze her, silence her. But she knows the truth. She knows that every miniscule sacrifice of praise moves our Papa’s heart…and so she lets her simple song fly.

Psalm 84:3 also says that the sparrows give birth to their young on those altars. Think about that! In the place of death, life multiplies (John 12:24). When we enter into the joy of knowing that our tiniest of songs is pleasing to the Lord, then we find a birthing takes place in our heart – a multiplying, abundant power is released. An overflowing joy that gives birth to more joy that gives birth to more joy. When we learn the lesson from the sparrow and make it our own, we find that we birth song after song after song. The lessons that she’s teaching us at the dawn of each morning are this: your praise doesn’t have to be complicated – just let your simple song rise! Don’t apologize for finding joy in the simplest of things; in fact, look for it! Look for joy in the mundane things again. It’s a key to worship. Another lesson she teaches? Your song is so valuable to the Father, no matter how it compares to anyone else’s around you. So sing like no one is listening but Him! He counts that as a sacrifice – a sacrifice that moves Him. And there in that place of choosing joy and letting your song rise, a promise of new life awaits you. Abundant life. Multiplying joy. It’s right there on the altar of praise.

And all of this is right there in the sparrows morning song if only we will let the sparrow teach us.


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