Saturday, January 27, 2024

Birds On a Wire


Photo by Karunakar Rayker 2007

Not long ago, on our usual journey from home to our favorite beach, I spotted an eerie phenomenon – a group of birds apparently hovering in mid-air, motionless and all facing in the same direction. When we got closer, the mystery was solved – the birds were all perched on an electrical wire, which was not visible from further up the road.

Despite the high voltage passing through such wires, small birds can safely land there, provided their body does not touch ground, because their feet are so close together. The voltage drop, and hence current, between two points on a wire is proportional to the distance between the points, so electricity from the wire does not harm the birds.

On subsequent trips I noticed that the same, or at least a similar, flock occupied the same wire, which prompted me to read more about this behavior. The more I learned about it, the more parallels I saw between “birds of a feather flocking together” on a high wire and the need for Christians to be faithful members of a local church:

Hebrews 10: 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Once we 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 are to join a local church (Acts 2:47), where we can support one another, bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and encourage one another to do God’s work. This is even more important during the End Times, as Christ’s return draws near, because the urgency to bring souls to Christ before it is too late (John 9:4) demands that we work together (Luke 10:2).

Birds on a wire perch close to each other to reduce the danger of being attacked by predators, as there is safety in numbers. For Christians also, the Bible-based church provides protection from Satan’s traps (Ephesians 6:11-18), including false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1), and a loving church family supports its members who are enduring trials through prayer and encouragement.

Birds that eat insects enjoy the height of an electrical wire to give them a better perspective, and hence feeding opportunities, as they can better view and then pursue their dinner, whether on the ground or flying by. Although Christians can and should read their own Bible daily to be fed from God’s Word (Matthew 6:11), the higher perspective of an experienced, Godly pastor or teacher expounding Scripture can feed us in the meat, and not only the milk, of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12).

The environment of a high wire is free of foliage to obstruct or shadow the birds’ view of predators and prey, thus enhancing their survival. Similarly, going to a Bible-based church at the appointed times should provide an environment free of the distractions and preoccupations of our daily life in this evil world, enabling us to focus on God’s Word and will from a higher perspective.

Birds nesting in trees are difficult to see, but those on an elevated wire are visible even from a distance. Jesus told His followers that we are the light of the world, shining like a great city on a hill for all to see (Matthew 5:14). The local church is one place where we can shine His reflected light, and it allows us to “recharge our batteries” so that we can burn more brightly even in this dark world.

Mark LaBarr, a wildlife biologist and conservation program manager with the National Audubon Society, describes birds clustering on a wire as a "pre-migratory get-together." The wire becomes a staging area, similar to an airport preboarding area, before the flock takes flight for warmer climates to help them survive the winter.

Or, for Christians, the local church is where we come together while awaiting the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17), our final flight to meet Jesus Christ in the clouds and then on to Heaven, the most hospitable and welcoming destination where we will not only survive, but thrive, throughout all eternity!

Most birds on a wire face the same direction, into the wind, to avoid ruffling their feathers and to facilitate take-off and landing. (But of course, there are a few rebels in every crowd!) If we as Christians look in the same direction – to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith – He will smooth over any disputes among ourselves and make it easier to embark on the course He has appointed us (Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24), and to rest according to His perfect timing and direction (Matthew 11:28).

On our most recent trip, many miles past the birds on a wire, I witnessed an amazing display of God’s direction over His avian creation. A swarm of small birds suddenly appeared over the eastern sky, swooping westward over the horizon, then a second swarm in the western sky flew toward the first swarm until both united in a circular pattern as all the birds traveled upward!

It reminded me of God’s grace in inviting “whosoever” trusts in His Son as Lord and Savior to live forever in Heaven (John 3:16), regardless of whether they are His chosen people of Israel or Gentiles who have been “grafted in” to His family tree by faith (Romans 11).

Like winged flocks, may we gather together in safety, sound doctrine and support, and nurture our fellow believers until Christ comes again! Look up (Luke 21:28), for our redemption is near!  

© 2024 Laurie Collett

Photo by John Holmes 2006

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Healing in His Wings


Photo by Arturo Mann 2005

With so many in need of physical and spiritual healing, the Lord laid it on my heart to repost this from the archives. Sending healing prayers to all readers in need of a special touch from the Great Physician.

Almost as an afterthought, my husband and I decided to walk the beach again after our cleaning chores were done, shortly before sunset. I must admit I had come to the beach with a bad attitude, feeling discouraged about the slow progress in restoring my shoulder range of motion after a chronic injury, the pain involved in the mobilization process, and various other obstacles my husband and I were facing.

Our first beach walk that day, in the midafternoon, yielded uncharacteristically barren stretches of sand, devoid of the many shells, shark’s teeth, and even fossils we enjoy finding there. The sea was a murky brownish green and purple, rough and churning, and dark squalls loomed at the horizon.

But God had completely transformed the beach for our second stroll, and with it, my outlook! Each step we took seemed to unveil a new scene in His creation (Genesis 1,2), a magical wonderland delighting the senses. I have never seen the Aurora Borealis, and that is on my bucket list, but I shared with my husband that the light show God now provided must be even better than that!

At first I berated myself for not bringing the camera, then I realized that God’s perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 128:8) was for me to simply soak in His beauty (Psalm 27:4), to experience the moment without fussing with camera settings or lighting, to just be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).

A foggy haze along the horizon seemed to encompass the waters as if in a vast lagoon, now calm, tranquil and a misty shade of aqua. An incredible diorama stretched out in the sky, lit dramatically by the setting sun that highlighted each cloud formation with different hues of gold, russet, mauve, and rose. These colors reflected into the ocean, which now shimmered with soft light.

Initially I felt like I was looking up at the ceiling of a Renaissance cathedral, then I remembered that art mirrors nature, and not vice versa! The beauty surrounding me was as I imagine Heaven is like, and yet Scripture tells us that the eye cannot begin to imagine the incomparable beauty God is preparing for us in our eternal home (Isaiah 64:4; 1 Corinthians 2:9).
In the sky, the central scene at first included a figure like a menacing, dark gorilla on one side, shaking its fist at a brilliantly illuminated, silvery white cloud that looked like Jesus with arms stretched wide, draped in robes that took on the form of wings. Between these two central characters were many smaller figures resembling people of various shapes, sizes and ages, some turned toward the Christ figure and others toward the demonic presence.

As the sun set through the clouds, triangular beams of colored light shone through the sky as if refracted through prisms. Above the horizon, a massive circular cloud formation blazed in tones of gold and fiery orange, reminding me of the Shekinah Glory, the presence of God filling the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34) as the Israelites wandered through the wilderness in search of the Promised Land. Over it all, high in the sky, was a single silver cloud in the shape of outstretched angel’s wings.

Awestruck, I asked God to forgive my previous attitude of discouragement and ingratitude, and I thanked Him for revealing His peace, joy and beauty to us in such a unique and remarkable way. His handiwork in nature (Psalm 19:1) assured us that He is in control despite demonic struggles that would continue (Ephesians 6:12) because of the curse of sin (Romans 5:12) until He returns for His children (1 Thessalonians 4:17). If we yield to His Spirit, His glory will continue to illuminate the temple of our body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) just as it filled the tabernacle and temple in Old Testament times.

Later that night I was reading from a book that I had downloaded on my Kindle, which just happened to be the next book on my list and not one I had selected for any particular reason. With God there are no coincidences (Psalm 139Romans 8:28), so I was excited but not surprised that the reading dealt with the connection between spiritual and physical healing, and that the author used metaphors of wings and of beams of light, just as God had shown us!

The author referenced Malachi 4:2: But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

What a perfect passage to encapsulate our experience on the beach and the imagery God, Who is light (1 John 1:5), unveiled to us! All who reverence the Name of Jesus, the Source of all light and perfect holiness, can experience the healing He shines forth like rays of the sun. Then we can be healthy, vital, and powerful, for He cares for us, heals and protects us.

I had often wondered why Jesus, in His earthly ministry, never experienced sickness of any kind, even though He felt pain, fatigue, betrayal, and thirst (Mark 4:38; Matthew 25:35; John 19:28; Hebrews 4:15). I now understand that His body could not be subject to sickness because His Spirit is free from sin. Illness is part of the curse of sin, even though our specific infirmities may not be the direct result of our own sin or even of the sin of another.

When the disciples asked Jesus whether a man was blind because of his own sin or because of the sin of his parents, He replied that it was neither, but rather for the glory of God, as He would heal him (John 9). When we experience physical limitations or illness, it is an opportunity for us to yield to the healing power of Jesus in our spirit, which may in turn allow healing in our body.

In some cases, however, He may allow the thorn in our flesh to persist, for His grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The apostle Paul was therefore able to glory in his infirmities, knowing that God would get the glory from Paul’s completed mission despite earthly obstacles that are no match for God’s infinite power (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

God promises spiritual healing (Mark 2:17), forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), and eternal life (John 3:16) to all who place their trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). Praise God for that promise, and for physical healing or for His grace to carry on despite our human frailty, until He brings us home in our glorified bodies! 

© 2018 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Too Much, but Not Too Late



Photo by Deavmi 2015

I dreamed that I was racing through an airport to catch a plane to a very important destination. They had announced the final boarding call, and I was afraid I would miss the flight. Finally I made it through the boarding gate just in time, as the cabin doors closed just moments after I boarded.

I jostled against those still standing in the aisles and spotted my son, who was already seated but still had an empty spot next to him. Once I got there I realized there was no space in the overhead bin for my tote bag, nor would it fit under the seat in front of me. To my son’s dismay, and that of the flight attendants, I reached up into the space over the seat housing the oxygen masks and tried to shove them aside to make room for my bag!

As I awoke and considered the meaning of the dream, I realized it was another metaphor for being saved late in life. My son, who in the dream had boarded the plane in plenty of time, was saved when he was 10 years old. So Lord willing, he has plenty of time ahead of him to serve the Lord, assuming a normal lifespan, although none of us is promised tomorrow (1 Peter 1:23-25; James 4:14).

I was saved a few months before my son, yet further along in the course of life. It has now been 24 years, praise the Lord, yet the time has flown by so quickly, and my biggest fear is going home before I have completed the mission He set out for me since before the beginning of time (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11). If only we could perfectly follow the example of Jesus, Who finished the work His Father gave Him to do! (John 4:34; 17:4).

Whether we are saved early or late in life makes no difference to our ultimate destination. Even the repentant thief on the cross, who had no time to be baptized, to join a church, or to do any good works, was assured by Christ that he would be with Him in Paradise that very day (Luke 23:39-43). Once we trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven, our eternal destiny with Him is forever secure (John 10:28-29).

But the rewards He will give us at His judgment seat are based on the works we do for Him once we are saved, provided we do them with the right motive (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Each passing day may represent a soul nurtured and brought closer to Christ, or a missed opportunity to keep the Divine appointment He had planned for us (Psalm 118:24). So time does matter, as does our heart to follow Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Sometimes overt sins get us off course, or snares of the devil (1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 3:7), but often it is our own wrong choices, being burdened by weights that hinder us from running the race (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1). The oxygen masks in the dream may represent our communication with God through His Holy Spirit Who inspires us (Galatians 5:16-25), giving us the breath of life each day to fulfill His perfect plan. Yet so often we choke that lifeline by putting other things first (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19), instead of giving Him the preeminence (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 1:18).

In the dream, how foolish it was to try to cram my earthly possessions into a space reserved for the vital task of saving my life, and that of other passengers. Jesus warned us not to be weighed down by treasures on earth, but instead to store up treasures in Heaven, where they will last forever (Matthew 6:19-21). We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Timothy 6:7-11).

Those who are preoccupied with earthly cares, like the young rich ruler, or the fool building bigger and better barns while ignoring the fate of his own soul, may find it more difficult to enter Heaven than a camel finds it to pass through the eye of a needle (Luke 18:18-25; 12:16-21).

So praise God, I am not too late for salvation, which gives me eternal life in Heaven with Jesus Christ and with my loved ones who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior. And I am thankful for each day He gives me to praise, worship and serve Him. But my daily prayer is to let Him be Lord of my life, First in my heart, unfettered by idols (1 John 5:21) or daily preoccupations, which is His rightful place!

© 2017 Laurie Collett

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Empty Boxes


Photo by Mike Goren 2006

I recently dreamed that my husband and I were hosting a children’s party at our ballroom. The theme was a treasure hunt in which each child would choose among different wrapped boxes until they found one containing a valuable present, which they could keep.

We wrap empty shoeboxes in red, blue, green or yellow kraft paper and put individual gifts in boxes that are wrapped similarly, except that each of these is decorated with a pleated, semicircular paper fan, white with colorful embellishments. The centerpiece for each table is an assortment of these boxes – some empty, some containing treasure.

Once the party begins, we’re surprised that most children choose the undecorated boxes, even after they see other children find a present in the decorated boxes. We are even more shocked and disappointed that some children who unwrap a box containing a present don’t like it and refuse to keep it, even throwing a temper tantrum and lashing out at us for not giving them something better.

As I awoke and contemplated the meaning of the dream, I considered that God offers each of us the most valuable gift of all – eternal life by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

That “unspeakable,” or unimaginably precious, gift (2 Corinthians 9:15) is freely available to anyone who accepts it (John 3:16; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). We don’t deserve it and can’t earn it (Ephesians 2:7-9), for we are all sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell, separated by our sins from holy, righteous God (Romans 3:23). Yet God through His grace offers us forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:25), the perfect Lamb of God Who died in our place to pay our sin debt (John 1:29).

God created each of us to desire that gift. All seek happiness and peace, yet so many fail to find it because they look in all the wrong places – wealth, power, prestige, human relationships, and even substance abuse.

In the dream, all the children were eager to look for the treasure, but many chose the empty boxes, ignoring the obvious clue of the wrapping, even when they witnessed other children finding treasure only in the decorated boxes, and not in the plain boxes. The pleated fan identifying the filled boxes was like an angel’s wing, or like the fan in the hand of Christ as He judges those who accept or reject Him (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). The fan was white, symbolizing Christ’s purity, yet adorned with brilliant colors reflecting His multiple attributes and rainbow-lit throne (Revelation 4:3).

It was not a subtle clue, just as God’s Word is clear, not covert, about how we can obtain eternal life. God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). He clearly states that we can find peace regarding our eternal destiny in Heaven only through His Son, the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

But sadly, many want to complicate that clear direction, and they distort and pervert the Gospel (Matthew 7:15) by claiming that there are many roads leading to Heaven, or that we can only get there if our good deeds outweigh the bad, or only if we are baptized, or circumcised, or perform other rituals. But God views these feeble attempts at salvation as “filthy rags” and a slap in the face to His Son’s completed work on the cross (Isaiah 64:6).

In the dream, we didn’t spell out that only the boxes decorated with fans contained treasure. But the children should have quickly learned that because they had seen different boxes opened and viewed their contents.

Once we are saved, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and our changed life should be a clear witness to others about how they too can be transformed from doomed sinner to Heaven-bound saint. But we should also tell people what Christ has done for us and be prepared to show them what God’s Word says about how they can find eternal life in Heaven (1 Peter 3:15).

We were even more disappointed in the dream that some of the children who found the treasure rejected it, or even lashed out at us because it was not what they wanted. God’s gift of salvation is freely offered, yet we must accept it to claim its benefits. Sadly, many who hear the Gospel dismiss it or even angrily attack those who present it, just as the Jews were so furious with Stephen for telling them the truth about Christ (and their having killed Him) that they gnashed at him with their teeth and stoned him to death (Acts 7)

May our changed lives in Christ be a clear road map to others about how they can find the treasure of eternal life! May we also be bold to clearly tell others the truth of how they can end their futile search for happiness in all the wrong places and find the true gift of eternal life in Christ alone!

© 2024 Laurie Collett