Saturday, January 4, 2020

Mourning Doves, or Morning Doves?

As I swam at dusk in the secluded pool at our island getaway, a flock of mourning doves sprang up from secret hiding places – the hibiscus bushes along the fence, the pool’s edge just beyond my line of sight, from within the tall pines. They fluttered around the pool in an excited whirl, congregated near the deep end as if to cheer on my laps, then settled on a nearby rooftop. 

Mourning doves are so named because of their sorrowful, lamenting song. Some males may have a pink or rust-colored stain on their chest, reminiscent of a bleeding heart. Their sudden appearance saddened me at first, bringing to mind the unexpected deaths of so many friends, church members, public figures, and acquaintances in recent times. 

Some of these deaths were expected and even a blessing, like that of the elderly woman with Alzheimer’s who could no longer recognize her own family. Others were shocking tragedies, like the young, active dance professional who was struck by a car while he was standing in the street in front of his house. 

It reminded me that our earthly life can vanish before our eyes like a puff of smoke, for we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:14). Those who procrastinated with their salvation, assuming they would have plenty of time to have their intellectual questions answered, or to “clean up their act” before coming to Christ, will spend eternity in hell if death caught them unawares. 

Now is the accepted time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), and those who put it off risk quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and having their conscience seared, to the point that they can no longer recognize that they are sinners in need of a Savior (1 Timothy 4:2; Psalm 95:8; John 12:40; Hebrews 3:8,14). 

Even for those of us who are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we may find ourselves on death’s doorstep regretting what we have left undone, particularly missing service or witnessing opportunities God offered to us, or allowing fear or distractions to keep us from walking through doors He has opened (Hebrews 12:1). 

And yet, the appearance of the doves, their lively cooing, and the musical whistling of their wings in flight, was more of a blessing to me than a harbinger of gloom. It reminded me that God can turn our mourning into singing and dancing (Isaiah 51:11; Psalm 30:11). Weeping may persist through the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5). 

The prophet Isaiah described his sorrow as the mourning of a dove (Isaiah 38:14; 59:11; Ezekiel 7:16), yet the upward flight of a dove symbolizes salvation and transformation from earthly sadness to Heaven’s joy-filled glory (Psalm 55:6; 68:13; Isaiah 60:8). 

Doves call to mind the Holy Spirit, descending on Jesus Christ in that form the moment He arose from the baptismal waters (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32); the deliverance of Noah from the global destruction of the flood (Genesis 8:8-12); and the sacrifice Mary and Joseph brought to obey God as they presented their Child at the temple (Luke 2:24). 

Scripture often uses animals to teach us lessons about our desired character and behavior, such as the industriousness of the ant (Proverbs 6:6; 30:25), or the wisdom of the conies who recognize their own weakness and seek shelter in the rock (Proverbs 30:26). Jesus told His disciples to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Dove is used as a romantic term of endearment in Song of Solomon (1:15; 2:14; 4:1; 5:2,12; 6:9), so I began to interpret the flight of doves all around me as an encouraging message. 

Even the “bleeding heart” of the mourning dove can be viewed as God telling His story through His creation, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). Praise God that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can wash away all our sins (Revelation 1:5), so that God the Father views His children as holy and sanctified, meriting an eternal home in Heaven not by our own works or righteousness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but by the imputed righteousness of His Son! (Romans 3:22; 4:5,22; 5:17-21). 

There need be no mourning for those who are born again (John 3:3-8) into the glorious morning of eternal life!

© 2020 Laurie Collett



Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
We don't have that particular species of bird here in the UK, so assuming they survive a lot better in a sub-tropical climate such as in Florida, we will never get to hear their mournful song.
But the truth of death coming so suddenly and unexpected (for example, Luke 12:16-20) has taught me to appreciate each day God gives us, and not make the mistake, like I have done many times before, to "wish away my life at work when a holiday is approaching". To do this, I believe, is sin. Fortunately, God has forgiven me for this after confessing.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Our pastor, who is still actively preaching at the age of 82, and who is a prostate cancer survivor, often greets me with "Another day in Paradise!" His mother died young and he always assumed he would too, so he truly appreciates the gift of each day and teaches his congregation to do the same.
An expression that makes me angry is "killing time," for time is such a precious commodity. May we learn to redeem the time by living each moment to the fullest, to His glory!
Thanks as always for your insightful comment. God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
nice post. I love birds and have two particular doves that come up to my patio doors each day when they see me in the kitchen. I know they are telling me to take their food out, which I do every day. When I feed them, either in the bird house or on the grass, they come within two feet of me.
I agree that time is like a puff of smoke, and that is why it is so important to share the gospel with others, and endeavour to act upon the Word spoken to us by the Holy Spirit once we have become a child of God.
God bless.

Donald Fishgrab said...

When I think of the many ways God has blessed me, it is hard to think of the mourning doves as being sad. It is more like they are just talking over their daily lives and quietly enjoying them. To people caught up in excitement it may sound sad, like they don't have a life at all, but for those who love the Lord it can be far better than what those who consider our lives so sad ever experience.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
One of our most amazing experiences was to visit the Galapagos Islands, where the animals and even the birds have no fear of man. I particularly enjoyed being able to approach birds within a foot of where they were perched in a bush, view them eye to eye, and have a prolonged "conversation" as they chirped and I chattered.
Amen, may we use our allotted time wisely to hear, act upon, and spread His Word.
God bless you too,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Donald,
Amen -- God sends us reminders in His creation of the many blessings He has showered upon us. Those who are saved have great reasons for joy in the Lord, no matter what earthly trials we experience.
God bless,

Aritha said...

Lieve (dear) Laurie,

Thank you so much for this blog. It is a blessing for me. Thank you so much for writing it and for all links tot Bibleverses. It is a real bible Study. Love it.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Aritha, for your sweet comment! I am blessed to hear that you liked the post.
God bless,