I tried feeding some sparrows today. In the midday Phoenix heat of 106 degrees, I sat at a downtown outdoor table eating a Cold Stone Creamery waffle cone. A nearby sparrow caught my eye. He had his beak open and was panting to cool himself. I snapped off a tiny piece of my waffle cone and tossed it in his direction. He quickly hopped over and scooped it up and flew into a nearby tree.
It was maybe 5 seconds later when he returned with three friends all carefully eyeing me with beaks open for panting. They were maybe 8 feet away from me. I wondered how their friend had communicated with them to bring them my way. If it had been me I probably would have tried to keep my relationship a secret. Having received such a small crumb, I doubt I would immediately invite friends to join me in a second attempt.
I broke off a few more pieces and tossed them toward the sparrows. Cautiously, they hopped forward to get their morsels. They kept a nervous eye on me the whole time. I felt a strange sort of compassion for them. They all looked so hot with beaks open panting continuously. I tossed some more crumbs their way but only 5 feet from me. I wanted them to come closer.
Their stress level went up. Some hopped back and forth not daring to come so close to me. Finally one of them risked it and hopped closer for another crumb. When he made his move the others followed. I wanted to bring them even closer. I wanted them to eat at my table. Maybe even eat from my hand.
I could not get them to come closer than maybe 4 feet away. I spent 30 minutes trying. I fed them time after time hoping to build their trust but they just would not come closer. Their lack of trust was frustrating. Why wouldn’t they trust me? Hadn’t I proved myself faithful? Why couldn’t they sense that my only goal was to develop a relationship with them and feed them?
Experience must have taught them to be cautious. Maybe they had learned that you don’t get anything free. Maybe they figured I was trying to lure them in and trap them. Maybe they trusted before and got hurt.
I think that’s how some of us approach God. I’ve been hurt by men flinging tasty crumbs and claiming to represent God. Now, I flit about nervously getting close enough to eat the crumbs while wondering if they come with strings attached.
My desire is jump confidently into the hands of my God to eat without worry. I just wish I was better at recognizing His hands.