Yesterday evening Anne and I went for a walk at a spot about half an hour’s drive from our house. We parked the car and were only about 20 m down the path when I saw something that looked like a dead bird. When I approached it though, I saw that it was actually very much alive: it was a young pigeon, but it was lying on its back and flapping around hopelessly in the dirt. It couldn’t seem to turn over. At first I thought it might just be stranded because it was on its back, so tried to put it right; but it immediately flopped back upside down and continued to flap its wings around to no effect other than to make desperate circles in the dirt. I picked it up, and saw that one of its wings had some sort of injury. It had been bleeding, and it was caked in dirt around the wound. We didn’t know how to look after it if we took it home, but we knew that if we left it there it had zero chance of survival. Two friends of ours at church are vets and live very close to us, so we decided to take it home and ask their advice. However when I rang on the doorbell there was no reply. I had decided to call the pigeon Bertie. From that moment Bertie’s life was in our hands.
Fortunately Google knows all about what to do with injured baby pigeons, and even more fortunately Google also knew that there happens to be a wildlife rescue centre about 10 minutes drive from our house. And even more fortunately still, the centre was open from 10 o’clock this morning (Sunday – church starts at 10.30). I also “just happened” to have the perfect sized empty box, with everything necessary to make a warm comfortable bed for Bertie (as you do), in the car. It definitely seems as though God was on the case.
So we made Bertie comfortable in the box, and went to bed hoping that we wouldn’t find a dead Bertie in the morning. We didn’t: in fact he was a lot more perky then he had been, having recovered from the obvious state of shock he had been in. So I took him to the rescue centre, they had a quick look at him and confirmed that his wing was injured, said he would be fine, that they would look after him and would “put him with all the other pigeons.” I even managed to arrive at church in time for the beginning of the service.
I left Bertie in the hands of the wildlife centre, happy that our little rescue mission looked like having a good outcome. But then I began to think about what a powerful metaphor the whole story was for God’s love and our mission to share it with others. Before God reaches down for us, we are just like Bertie, wounded and flapping around desperately in the dirt that is caked on wings that were made to fly. Unless we are rescued, our chances of survival are zero: we would flap around upside down in the dirt and into a lost eternity without ever knowing the freedom of flying into God’s eternal purposes. God in Christ left the heavenly realms and came to us; He parked his car here on Earth where He walks down the path where we have fallen, and if we will let Him He will step down lovingly and rescue us from the dirt, clean us up, heal our wounds, and release us to fly with “all the other pigeons“ that He has taken into his House.
We thought we needed our friends the vets to look after Bertie, but that wasn’t the case: we had everything that we needed for our part of the rescue mission, including the box and a warm soft lining him to lie on, as well as the availability of all the necessary information. And what I found even more amazing was that there is a specialist wildlife rescue centre just down the road, which has been there for years but that I knew nothing about, even though I call myself a wildlife lover. I can even top that: the first picture on their website of the work that they do was of a baby pigeon very similar to Bertie. All that was needed from us was the willingness to take that first step, to reach out, pick him up and bring him home.
We are on God’s rescue mission. There are “Berties“ all around us, created by their loving father to spread their wings and fly, but broken, wounded and upside down in the dirt where they will stay unless we reach out to rescue them. We don’t need an “expert“ to do the job: it has been given to you and me. And we don’t have to carry out the whole rescue, just our part; but everything that we need for us to do that part has been made available to us since before time began. God has already got their pictures on His website.
The fields are white unto harvest. Will we go?