The Vacant Nest: Imparting Courage, Declaring God‘s Greatness


All last night the wind whipped our house. In the wee hours of the morning, rain, like buckets of water, hurled against my bedroom window.


Surely, it could not have survived the storm, I thought as I opened the blinds. My eyes searched bare branches of the tall red maple in our backyard.


Oh no! It isn’t there! It’s been through so much. Now it’s gone. Probably blown against someone’s fence or lodged under a bush somewhere.


But I couldn’t stop searching. My eyes continued to scan the swaying branches. Then I saw it. It was still there! Unbelievably, it had survived another downpour, another windstorm. Because of my eyes’ blind spots, it had taken several minutes to saw it.


I was relieved, crazy as it sounds. For the past two--maybe three—months I’ve been watching that vacant nest. That handful of mud and sticks and vegetation, or whatever birds use to make their homes. I’ve seen it swaying in high winds. I’ve seen it topped with a mound of fluffy snow, like the top of an ice cream cone. I’ve seen it rain drenched. I’ve seen it motionless in frigid air, as if frozen in place.


As I observe its story, my amazement grows. From a distance, it doesn’t look like much. Dingy. Dull. Shapeless. But in the last ten weeks or so, this vacant nest has spoken courage. Has caused me to consider the Creator in a new way.


The Story Begins


I didn’t see its beginning. Large, reddish leaves hid the progress of its construction. But I imagine last spring a busy mother bird hopped and scavenged and flitted and crafted until her home was ready. A safe place to lay eggs. Once hatched, the mother bird would have brought food to the little ones until they were old enough to leave the nest. At some point, she also left. Vacancy.


Autumn came. Trees dropped leaves. The nest revealed its existence . . . its vacancy. Day after day, week after week, the nest stayed put. It seemed purposeless now, unused, vulnerable in a naked tree. Exposed for anyone who cared to look at the drab, earthen bundle.


The Story Touches Me


I didn’t notice the little nest much until. Until it amazed me. Until it survived storms, strong winds, snows upon snows. Then I started to notice, to look for, to draw courage from that brown lump of dirt and vegetation.


How can that nest survive? I wondered. After each stormy day and blustery night, I became more astonished. I was astonished at the bird who used the stuff of the ground to create a durable masterpiece. But mostly I was astonished at the God who created the bird who (without hands) created the nest, so resilient.


The Story is Really God’s Story


God created me. From things of the earth. Not with beak and feet, but with His hands. Not by instinct, by through carefully laid plans--who I would be, all written in His book. With immeasurably greater complexity than a nest.


He designed me to withstand storms, relying on His strength. Storms of failing health, relational stress, turbulent political climates, times of lack and times of plenty, death of loved ones, and so much more.


Unlike the mother bird who left the nest, God‘s hand, God’s presence remains—now and forever. He thinks about me, knows about every high wind, every heavy snow, every flood.


If a little nest created by a little bird can withstand much, then as a masterpiece of God’s hands I know I can face whatever God plans for me, in His strength and in His grace.


Upheld by Mercy, warmed by the Son carried through storms, a witness of One. Uses vessels of earth to showcase His Grace pours out His strength as they look on His face.


My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9


(Note: This was written at the end of February 2022.)

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