A scratching noise from the utility closet broke through the quiet dawn hours, awakening me in the adjacent bedroom. Investigating, I discovered the curious commotion was coming from behind the clothes dryer. Then I heard a faint chirp — a bird! The little fellow had slipped down the roofline vent pipe and become trapped. He scurried helplessly back and forth along the flexible hose attaching the vent to the dryer.
God’s wake-up call can happen in a curious manner as well. If not curious, it at least varies for each person. It might be a sermon or a dramatic life event that awakens us. For me, it was a bird in my clothes dryer. I didn’t know it at the time, but my experience with that bird would teach me much about God’s call.
Paul writes to the Ephesians that we are all in the same condition: dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). Through Jesus Christ, God has made each one of us alive. God’s workmanship brings something dead to life. The purpose of His creation — you and me — is good works (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, Paul’s admonishment is to walk worthy of the calling to which we are called (Ephesians 4:1). With this admonishment, though, sometimes we need motivation.
I left home that morning, unsure what to do with this stuck creature, so I called my property manager to handle it. However, when I returned home in the evening, I could still hear the desperate chirp. I knew I needed to remove this poor animal from his prison.
I detached the hose from the wall and placed the exposed end into a paper sack. Failing to coax the bird into the bag, I held the bag in one hand and activated the switch with my other. A sudden burst of air pushed the trapped bird into the sack.
We too need a “sudden burst” of motivation. But how do we get started? Finding motivation is not always simple. We may have self doubts within or distractions without. However, at times someone or something comes along and challenges us. Great people can cause us to evaluate ourselves and push us to do more. But can a little bird?
The troubles of life can make finding motivation difficult, trying our faith. Peter refers to it as being “grieved by various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). Trials may make us hesitant. If we push forward, despite our struggle, these trials reveal the genuineness of our faith (v. 7), just as gold is proven by the fire that removes impurities. We would love it if there were an easier way, but the tough stuff drives us to cry out for help and humble ourselves to completely depend on God.
I took the sack outside to free the bird. After his long ordeal, I assumed he would be stunned or disoriented, perhaps even injured. So I placed him in a remote spot to allow him a private convalescence. When I turned the sack over, to my astonishment, the bird flew off the moment after his feet touched the ground. In seconds, he was high in the air, moving quickly out of sight. The bird didn’t hesitate. He immediately embraced the freedom afforded him.
I was the one stunned and motionless, not the bird. In an instant, I understood something about myself: I too tend to hesitate. I realized that I could be doing much more with myself. Perhaps I had been spiritually asleep that morning the bird visited me. I needed to put my focus on the Lord and move forward.
I soon found the motivation to make more of an effort in my spiritual life. I made morning Bible study part of my regular routine and took a more active part in my church’s worship team. I even decided to tag along with some others to our local ministry training classes (then called Ministries Training System, later LifeSpring). Before long, I was given opportunities to preach, both in my local church and then as a guest in other area congregations. As I put forth the effort, I saw growth in my spiritual life. Additionally, I felt stamina from the Holy Spirit.
What might God use in your calling? The first step is to wake up. Then take action. Blessings and opportunities can be missed if you do not answer this call. We all need a nudge from time to time when we find ourselves stuck in place. It can come in unusual ways — even through a visit from a wayward bird.