A Flock of Bluebirds

We are heading into the transitional period from summer to fall during which all of nature seems to participate, including all of the birds of the air. They’re moving about and changing their location and migrating to wherever they are supposed to be. Recently as I was heading out to walk in the pre-dawn hours, I passed a home where there was a flock of bluebirds in the front yard. I saw them before I got there and stayed some distance away so they wouldn’t fly away. There were eight or ten or twelve bluebirds all around on the front yard.

At least that’s what I thought I saw, and walked on believing they must be in migration and must have found some seeds on some grass there in that yard that really appealed to them. I turned around and headed back home, and I came to the same yard and the same flock of bluebirds. The sun had crept over the horizon by this time and I could see more clearly. It was not a yard filled with bluebirds. It wasn’t any kind of bird. It was a whole bunch of those blue flags that mark the pathway of some underground utility, and they were all over the yard.

I stopped and stared at the flags that were only some minutes ago bluebirds in my mind. I had enjoyed seeing them on the first pass and thought about them as I walked fifteen or twenty more minutes away from that yard and then turned and came back, thinking about how many other wonderful, beautiful things I was going to see throughout the day — only to realize the bluebirds were brightly-colored blue flags.

Before you conclude I can’t see or I’m drugged up when I go out to walk in the morning, let me remind you that it was dark on my first pass. It was real dark. It was pre-dawn. The sun hadn’t even announced that it was coming. I was trying to see without the benefit of any light and those flags sure looked to me like bluebirds. The Apostle Paul came to my mind when he wrote that wonderful, inspirational book to the church at Philippi, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8).

Paul reaches into his spiritual pocket book and takes out a whole treasure of things that he says to us. You need to keep your heart focused on those kinds of things. If you took Philippians 4:8 and put it alongside activities such as watching TV all day, or listening to news, or watching the 24-hour cable news channels, you might be hard pressed to ever find any of those “whatsoevers” of good things mentioned — things that are true, honest, pure, of good report. When you find those things, you need to capture them and hold tight to them.

I mention this because we live in a dark world, a world that does affect our sight. Sometimes our eyes are spiritually blurred, blocked by the darkness, or broken by the grief that we may be experiencing. Still, there are those people, experiences, opportunities, and encounters with God where we can find things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely. They are still around us. Even in the darkness of this world, you can see them.

It occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I saw bluebirds because that’s what I wanted to see. Maybe I’d seen other birds that were beginning their migration and thought, “Boy, what beautiful, indigo-colored birds these are,” because I really do want to see the good and the right and the just and the noble and all of those kinds of things upon which God would have us to focus. My heart wanted to see the bluebirds, whether my eyes could see them properly or not.

I wish I was always optimistic, but I’m not. I wish my heart didn’t have the tendency to sometimes be cynical, but it does. I wish I was able to see the beauty of God’s creative genius in a bluebird every time I saw a flock of sparrows, but I don’t. By the encouragement of the Apostle Paul and the impulses of the Spirit of God, I do seek to accomplish what is in the latter part of Philippians 4:8. Think on these things. Keep your mind focused that way so even later in your walk when you discover they weren’t bluebirds after all, you don’t lose anything and you still enjoy what you thought you saw that was good and right and beautiful.

It’s that way in life, that we often see what we want to see. There are people who are able to do that, often because they have walked with God and listened to His word in their hearts. They see the good even in the bad. By the same token, they may see the bad and extract good from it. I wish I was that way — would prefer to be like that — and maybe seeing bluebirds in the pre-dawn is an indication that I’m making some progress. I’m sure I’m making progress in the sense that later in the day, I actually saw a bluebird. Not a flock of them, just one. I thought about all the bluebirds that solitary bluebird could have joined that morning if he had just come to that yard.

One other thought I would like to throw out to you: Then and now, even in the sunlight of the morning, when I saw flags were out there in the front yard I remembered bluebirds. It was the bluebirds and not the blue flags that went with me throughout the day that created positive things for me to think about and brought joy to my heart. I think if you listen to the Apostle Paul you would find that when you think on these things, he goes on in the very next verse to say, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil. 4:9). So He shall. Even in the light, you see the good of what He showed you in the dimness of the night and you can remember to carry in the depths of your heart.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer