When Sparrows Fly
One morning last October, I stepped out the back door off our kitchen. The sun had not yet risen and in the darkness of the early morning, my eyes were drawn to a small, walnut-sized form on the ground. Focusing and looking closer, I realized it was a baby sparrow that had fallen from its nest. It was visibly hurt; the best description I can give is it looked “crooked.” It was barely breathing and I thought I’d put it in a warm box and give it a comfortable place to pass away.
I later left to bring my daughter, Andreya, to school and figured upon my return the little sparrow would have died and I would have to dispose of its tiny body. However, this bird had other ideas. Our sparrow, later named Jack Sparrow by Andreya, had spark. He wanted to live.
Jack Sparrow didn’t thrive right away. It took him a week to begin healing from his injuries. I would pry his little beak open with a small pair of tweezers and force feed him soft boiled eggs, cooked rice and whatever else I could get him to eat. Once he began to feel better, he ate with relish and complained if his feedings were late.
But he remained very “crooked-looking.” I doubted he would ever heal to the place where we could release him, so I let myself get attached. Several times during the day, I would find myself sitting with Jack Sparrow at a table on the front porch. He would hop around my laptop and onto my lap chirping happily. I never thought there would be a day when Jack Sparrow would fly.
A Company of Friends
Jack enjoyed our company and the company of my African Grey parrot, Kevin. Andreya named Kevin after one of the “minion” characters from the movie, “Despicable Me.”
For those who know me well, it comes as no surprise that rescuing Jack Sparrow was not a difficult decision for me to make. While initially I didn’t think he would live, I was very pleased that he did.
We made an interesting company of friends: three humans, an African Grey parrot and a small sparrow.
Fly With The Sparrows
After about a month, Jack began trying to flap his crooked wings. As crooked as they were, he managed to flutter a bit from place to place. This helped him avoid injury when he was hopping around on the table and picking at my keyboard. Everyone was amazed that Jack not only recovered, but seemed to enjoy hanging around me as much as I enjoyed hanging around him.
I found myself worrying about Jack Sparrow whenever I was out. I hoped he wasn’t too hungry while he waited for me to return from work. His loud cries for food every time I walked in made me hurry to get another meal into him – it’s amazing how much that little bird could eat!
As he grew and got stronger, I encouraged him to fly. It was discouraging at first, watching him fail to gain height. He would just flutter to the ground or from place to place. But slowly, very slowly, as his injured body began to straighten out, Jack began to fly.
One day when Jack managed to land on the porch light (some 10 feet above the ground). I knew then that there was a chance for him to fly with the sparrows.
Jack Finds His Wings
The past two weeks I’ve been watching Jack fly stronger and faster on the front porch (which is screened in). He began to hang out with me less while his eyes stared out at the wild sparrows flying outside. Just outside the front porch, a couple of sparrows made a nest and began feeding their babies. Jack liked to fly to the opposite side of the wall where the nest was and would “hang out” with his new friends.
Yesterday, when I let Jack out to fly and exercise, he didn’t let me return him to his cage as he normally would. I put food out on the table, which he ate, but he didn’t want to have any part in going back to his cage. I knew what was coming but instead of facing it at that moment, I simply closed the front door and went to work for the day.
Several hours passed before I came home. I found Jack in the same humor: there was no way he would go back in the cage. So I did what needed to be done. I opened the front door off the porch and waited for him to make his move outside. It took some time, maybe an hour or two, before he noticed that he was free to go. I fed Jack one last time from my hand and the next moment, he found his wings and was gone.
I didn’t take into account until when he left how happy/sad I would feel when he flew. God had taken a broken sparrow and opened my eyes to the beauty of when sparrows fly.
Where We Have Fallen From
Jack wasn’t perfectly straightened out when he left. His wings remained a bit crooked and his chest was set a bit off to the side. But the scars of his fall from the nest didn’t matter, he had healed and was able to fly.
The scars we bear from our falls in life are there to remind us of where we have fallen from. Not only do they remind us where we have come from but they also remind us of Who bore their pain for us so that we could fly with the sparrows.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.Isaiah 53:5 NKJ
God is waiting to see His children heal, He is waiting to see when His sparrows fly.
In the 1990s, during the civil war in the Burundi, we were leading the first church we planted in the city of Bujumbura. War rocked on in the interior of the nation before it came to our city. When it came, it came without mercy. One morning while I was visiting friends whose house overlooked the city, we began to hear loud gunfire and explosions. I rushed to their back verandah where I saw smoke rising from the part of town where our church was located.
My heart sunk, what were we going to do?
By that evening, we had 16 church members who had fled the fighting near the church, staying with us at our house. They ended up living with us for nearly six weeks while we waited for the violence to end. For many days and nights we sheltered together while the world outside went crazy. Rockets were fired into the mountains behind us, tracer bullets shot over our house during the night and people fled for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.
But there was one man, one sparrow, Papa Marcel, who refused to leave his home.
A Piece of Shrapnel
Papa Marcel stayed in his home in the middle of the fighting. Nearly everyone else in the area fled, but neither him nor his wife would leave. During those days of violence, the only hope we had was found in our faith. We handed out copies of Psalm 91 to our congregation for them to use in prayer as death was trying to knock on as many doors as it could.
Youth gangs were ruling the streets and one day they targeted him, most likely because of his refusal to leave, and threw a grenade at his house. The grenade exploded over his room where he was on his knees, praying Psalm 91.
Because he was in the room, one would assume he was seriously injured or even killed, but that was not the case. The only injury Papa Marcel suffered was a piece of shrapnel lodged in his pinky finger. The shrapnel was never removed and his finger remained misshapen for the rest of his life. When asked about what happened, he would say that “it (the shrapnel) was left in my finger to remind me of how God saved me.”
He was grateful for the scar.
Many years later, still bearing the scar, Papa Marcel passed away. I wonder if he entered eternity with the scar? It would not surprise me if he did.
None of us will emerge from this life without scar. Jesus didn’t escape scar, and they remain with Him to this day (see John 20:27). But His scars speak of the work He accomplished for us. His scars speak of healing, hope and life.
I’ve broken a couple of bones in my lifetime. Each time I went to the doctor’s to remove the cast, the doctor said that the places where the bones have healed are actually stronger than where the bones weren’t broken.
Scars make us stronger.
This Is A Thing Now
Just yesterday after Jack Sparrow made his swift exit, I went out the front door to see if I could catch another glimpse of him. Maybe he would stay around the house? As I opened the front porch door, another two baby sparrows fell from their nest. They were the baby sparrows that Jack had tried to befriend. With help, I gingerly put them back in the nest. I hope that they will know when it’s their time to fly – it’s just not yet.
Andreya, quick with a reaction, said, “So this is going to be a thing now?”
Yes, I’ll take the sparrows when they fall. I’m ready to see them heal, to see their scars making them stronger. I’m ready to see when sparrows fly.
by Amy Carmichael
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?