The Lesson of the Cardinal

The enemy came under the cover of darkness.

The snake wound its way up the trunk of the ficus tree, slid into the baby cardinals’ nest, and killed them. No noise warned me of what was coming. No ruckus drew me to look on the patio and prevent the attack.

Only when I peeked through the kitchen window for a last glance at the babies before I headed off to bed, did I discover the scaled serpent wrapped around the nest. They hatched four days ago and now were gone.

Jim’s words haunted me. “I’m going to get rid of that so she won’t build there,” he said when the nest first took shape.

“No,” I protested. “Leave the mother alone.” The cardinal fascinated me, building  a home twig by twig. I “oohed” and “aahed” at the four blue-white eggs resting inside, no bigger than my finger joint. I marveled as mom stood on the nest’s edge and dropped bits of food into four outstretched open beaks.

But, too late I realized Jim was right. “Birds build nests in our front yard tree, Gloria, but twenty to thirty feet higher than your ficus. Where nothing can reach them.”

I felt like the Israelites who demanded a king. They wanted to organize like surrounding nations and allow kings to rule and guide them. Where was the harm? (1 Samuel 8)

The prophet and priest, Samuel, warned the Israelites. They didn’t need an earthly king to tell them what to do. God was their true king. Yet, the Israelites refused to listen, and nothing but trouble followed with a string of kings, many who led the people astray and into captivity.

I should have listened and stopped the nest-building when Jim suggested it. Blinded by my desire to house a mother cardinal and her babies on my patio, I didn’t see the danger. How could something so innocent be so wrong? Innocent from my limited view anyway.

So, I learned a hard lesson. Selfish desire can deceive. Lure me into thinking something is okay when it’s not. Thinking that something bad is good or that something dangerous is safe. Thinking that I’m in control.  And I’ll remember to thank God for jobs I don’t get, places I can’t go, things I can’t do. Wherever barriers, or detours or disappointments exist, there is God, too.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15, NIV)

©2012 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.


About Gloria Ashby

I'm a writer, speaker and teacher. I live with my husband in the DFW area, and close to our daughter and her family.
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