October: Devotional

God spoke: “Swarm, Ocean, with fish and all sea life! Birds, fly through the sky over Earth!” God created the huge whales, all the swarm of life in the waters, And every kind and species of flying birds. God saw that it was good. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Ocean! Birds, reproduce on Earth!” It was evening, It was morning-- Day Five.

Genesis 20-23 The Message

This devotional is brought to us by Misty Elliott, a Leader in The Abbey.  You can read more of her beautiful words at mistyaelliot.com and on Instagram @mistyaelliott

I recently asked some friends if they felt like practicing yoga had made them feel more in tune with nature – the reason I asked was because I felt like I was becoming a modern day Snow White.

Honestly, I have always felt a camaraderie with the animal kingdom but there has been a noticeable shift within me over the past five years of spending time in nature with God on my yoga mat. I love to close my eyes and just listen for the sounds of the different types of birds.

A short while ago I had an encounter with a baby deer quail. It found its way into our dog’s water bowl and I, of course, could not just walk away. I picked the little guy up and headed out in search of his parents. Within five seconds the mother and father began to dive around me. It was one of the oddest bird sights I have ever witnessed.

These birds were diving to the ground like they had just been struck from the sky, all whilst making squawking noises at me. Naturally I began to chase after them while shouting like a lunatic that their baby was just fine! I had him safe and sound!

Y’all, I’m fortunate to not have neighbors who live near enough to hear the conversations I have with animals.

I’m really unsure what I believed was going to happen here –were they just going to fly into my hand and say ‘Thank you for saving our baby?” Oh, good grief.

Instead, I decided to get as close to the parents as they would allow and then I sat their baby down on the ground. To my absolute surprise, this little tot bolted off like a miniature road runner. It had the longest legs I have ever seen on such a tiny bird. I stood there in bewilderment as I watched it run, followed by its parents, who were still diving out of the sky like wounded birds.

My husband later told me that the wounded bird diving technique I had witnessed was one of their methods for survival. Predators don’t like to hunt what they believe to be dead.

Just a few days after this fiasco, I had another wild bird encounter. This time I found a small yellow bird sitting in one of my bushes and it was alone.

Have you ever noticed that in the wild birds tend to stick together? That’s why they are called “a flock” right?

There is safety in numbers.

I sat down by this beautiful creature and we gazed at each other for a long while. Through this stare off it was as if I could sense the loneliness and fear that isolation was bringing into my new feathered friend. I’m assuming he wasn’t well, hence being alone. While I never witnessed him fly away that day, I am going to believe that he flew back to his flock and is living happily ever after.

Here is my point from these stories – we can learn so much about ourselves just by taking a look at the way God created the animal kingdom.

Just like the birds have a higher rate of survival by being in a flock, we require healthy fellowship and community with other human beings for our own survival. We are designed to be in community with each other.

Even those majestic sea creatures God designed on this day need community. In fact, there are very few animals that prefer solitude over a group. My google research has taught me that even the animals who are choosing to fly solo tend to have mates and care for their young. This is just how the Creator designed life that carries heartbeats!

Have you ever experienced a season of loneliness? A time in your life where you felt that you lost community? How did it make you feel?

I have experienced a few of these seasons. I’ve walked through seasons where family moved away, God moved me into a new church, and close friendships have fallen apart. It’s painful to feel alone, particularly when there is a longing to share laughter, tears, hopes, dreams, and meals with other people. It’s a basic human need.

Let me encourage you with something I have learned over the years – God sees your seasons of sadness and he will carry you through. I’ve become a believer in the old saying that “if you don’t have community pray for it or create it”. I have done both in the hard times and God has faithfully met my needs every single time.

One final piece of advice sweet friend – be the one who smiles at a stranger today. Be the one who holds the door open for others. Chat with the old man in the line at the grocery store (I assure you he is full of stories). Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. This just may be the day you make a new best friend.

We are made for community. Let’s respond to God’s invitation to show up face-to-face and be community for our good and God’s glory.